Ivon Blum is a retired Los Angeles lawyer who has been researching and writing about the American Southwest for more than 20 years. His novel, River of Souls, about the Santa Fe Trail, was well received. He's visited the Tewa and Navajo in their hometowns and fly-fished many of the rivers in New Mexico and Arizona. He's a member of Wester Writers of America. When he writes about Canyon del Muerto, Shiprock, or old Fort Defiance, he is no stranger.
Code Talker: A Novel of the Navajoby Ivon Blum
Across between "The Sands of Iwo Jima" and "Cheyenne Autumn," Code Talker is a noble exploration into the human need to survive and belong. It is the story of Talking Boy Gorman, a U.S. marine and a Navajo Indian code talker-radioman at the battle of Iwo Jima during WWII. His story is juxtaposed with the tragic struggle of the Navajo People and his own ancestors for survival at the hands of the U.S. Army just 80 years before. Talking Boy lies wounded and alone as the marines fight to take Mt. Suribachi. Pain drives his urgent need to discover why Vargas, his own bodyguard, wants to kill him amid the raging battle. As a child in government schools, he and his Navajo friends were severely punished for speaking their native tongue now so desperately needed as an unbreakable code in the war against the Japanese. In a letter in his mind, he asks his sweetheart, Penny Joe, "how come I change flags so easily." Their inspired correspondence as the story progresses grows them from friends into lovers. Through his morphine induced wanderings, Talking Boy recalls the sing-song words of the old stories of generations of his family who struggled against the U.S. Army's attempted extermination of an entire people before and during the Long Walk. Juanito, his great grandfather, cries out, "I shall surrender, never." Juanito's own half-brother, Carlos Montoya, an Army officer, murders Hunts Quail, his great grandmother, just as she is giving birth to his grandfather on the endless trail into Navajo oblivion. Juanito kills his half-brother. He's lost his beloved wife but gained a son and a new will to survive. The graphically portrayed battle for Mt. Suribachi provides a detailed look at one of the bloodiest battles of the war and, in addition to Talking Boy, some of the heroic marines who fought and died in it. The wounded radioman's experience offers a convincing look at how the Pacific war might have been lost without the Navajo language Code Talkers. Talking Boy hears the sing-s
- Outskirts Press, Inc.
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)
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Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite "Code Talker" by Ivon Blum takes two critical periods of history and writes a parallel process novel. Native American Marine Talking Boy Gorman is trained as a Navajo code talker. His job is to confuse communications intercepted by the Japanese during World War II. As the story unfolds, the unit is at Iwo Jima on D-Day in February of 1945 and Talking Boy has just been seriously injured. This brings a series of flashbacks in which the demise of the Navajo Nation is occurring during a period of time in 1861 when the US Government attempted to eliminate the Native American population as a threat to an expanding nation. That part of the story is told through the eyes and ears of Juanito, a Mexican/Native American man who attempts to find his identity through going back to the tribe of a Native American woman he has rescued from potential slavery. As he remembers the stories told to him by his family, Talking Boy begins to understand the motivation of his ancestors who fought to the end rather than surrender a heritage that was theirs. For history buffs, "Code Talker" is a fascinating journey into a past in which a parallel process seems to occur between two time frames. Both Talking Boy and Juanito have unresolved issues as to where they belong and what appears to motivate them. At first, they react to hate and later, they come to realize they are but players in a greater drama. I loved the way Blum interwove the two stories and how Navajo history and spiritual beliefs come to life in the characters portrayed in the Navajo Nation. The book's messages will stay with you long after you close the book.