The author begins the account with a short history lesson about the Navajo culture and its background. This gives validity to the tale that unfolds of how the Navajo members of the Marine Corps contributed to the victory in the Pacific. The Navajos and their supporters worked hard to convince the Marine generals that their code and their commitment to the war effort were worth taking a chance on. The account of the hardships they endured, from the credibility of their code to the lack of acceptance, makes for interesting reading. Throughout this account, the author candidly explains the many barriers that had to be overcome in order for this valuable component of the war effort to become a reality. This should be a good addition to any nonfiction collection and a valuable research tool for students who are working in this period of history. It should lead to better understanding of the contributions of the Navajo nation to the victory realized by the U.S. in the Pacific, and it will be of interest to reluctant readers because it is fast paced. KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior high school students. 1992, Walker, 114p, illus, bibliog, index, 23cm, 92-11408, $8.95. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Deane A. Beverly; Reading Teacher, Pawcatuck, CT (retired), November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
Gr 5-9-- A fascinating account that sheds light on a little-known contribution of the Navajos during World War II. A civil engineer who spent his childhood among them suggested that their language be used as a perfect unbreakable code. The result was one of the most secret and important aspects of U. S. intelligence work against the Japanese--Navajo code talking. Aaseng details the process by which native-speaking volunteers developed, learned, and used the complicated coding process to send and receive vital information even when the Japanese were intercepting the messages. He gives many examples of the dangers and prejudice the Native Americans faced in the armed services, as well as the special hardships they endured because of their cultural differences. The short, readable chapters are illustrated with photographs from the National Archives and the Library of Congress. This is a book that will appeal to a wide range of students--those interested in army intelligence and cryptography, and in World War II or Native American history. It should prove helpful for reports, but is interesting enough to recommend for recreational reading. --Yvonne A. Frey, Peoria Public Schools, IL
Aaseng's account of the Navajo code talkers who worked as part of the American military during World War II is sure to attract war buffs and students researching native American accomplishments. The author provides background on the military's use of cryptography, then describes how the Navajos were recruited to create an unbreakable code that allowed the marines to transmit information quickly and accurately. In addition to learning about Navajo participation in the war, readers will acquire a surprising amount of information about Indian culture and lore, living conditions on reservations, and how the Navajos were accepted by the military. Students enjoy Aaseng's books because they are interesting and easy to read, and this book is no different. In fact, it may even earn the author new fans. Illustrated with black-and-white photos; a bibliography is supplied.
“Few books so concisely summarize the Japanese advance and the American response to it, while none provides the same depth of insight into the conditions faced by these Navajo. . . . An important story, compellingly told.” Kirkus (pointer review)
“A fascinating account that sheds light on a little-known contribution of the Navajos during World War II.” School Library Journal