In the brutal fires of war, two men come together from different worlds. Joe Enders is a haunted warrior plagued by guilt, the only man to survive a terrifying bloodbath on the Tarawa Atoll. Ben Yahzee is a "codetalker," a gentle, proud Navajo who transmits secret military code created from his Native American tongue — a language the Japanese enemy cannot decipher. One Marine fighting his demons and another battling prejudice and his own inner fears, together their lives are joined in the most horrific hell of the war-torn Pacific.
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About the Author
Max Allan Collins is the author of the Shamus Award-winning Nathan Heller historical thrillers. His other books include the New York Times bestseller Saving Private Ryan and the USA Today bestselling CSI series. His comics writing ranges from the graphic novel Road to Perdition, source of the Tom Hanks film, to long runs as scripter of the Dick Tracy comic strip and his own innovative Ms. Tree. Collins is also a screenwriter and a leading indie filmmaker in his native Iowa, where he lives with his wife, writer Barbara Collins, and their son, Nathan.
Read an Excerpt
Guadalcanal Was No Page Out Of A Travel Brochure. True, with its blue-green spine of mountains, the luxuriant darker green of its jungle, and the faded greens and browns of grassy plains and ridges and coconut groves, the Island -- as the U.S. Marines in the summer and fall of 1943 came to call it -- could fairly be described as a tropical paradise.
But to the Marines, Guadalcanal was just an ugly goddamn perimeter about five miles long and three miles wide. The Solomon islands, lying a few degrees south of the equator, provided their American guests a wet hot climate; frequent rains and unremitting beat turned this paradise into a steamy, pestilence-ridden hell, decorated with kunai grass as tall as a Marine and as sharp as a K-bar, a jarhead's fighting knife...the two main uses of which were vicious infighting and opening food tins.
Guadalcanal was a real tourist trap, all right -- foul, fetid swamps, humid jungles alive with insects as big as lizards and snakes, and lizards and snakes bigger than that. Crocodiles awaited at the mouths of rivers, and malaria-infected mosquitoes attacked the invaders, whether American or Japanese, without prejudice. Few of the Marines on the island avoided malaria, not to mention other tropical diseases, and almost every fighting man fought fungus infections as well as Japs.
The men who battled...and survived...on Guadalcanal -- and the number of those clashes can only be estimated -- would carry these injuries and tropical diseases into further fighting and, the lucky ones, into post-war civilian life. They would fight their battles againand again in sickness-tinged fever dreams.
Some of them still do.
On the morning of September 8, 1943, the First Raider Battalion under Colonel "Red" Mike Edson went ashore at Tasimboka. The enemy -- convinced a major landing was under way -- fled the scene, leaving supplies behind that the Americans, who could damn well use them, confiscated. Soon the Marines re-embarked, sailing to Lunga Point, their pockets stuffed with tins of Jap meat and bottles of sake; upon arrival, the Marines learned that the enemy was on its way to them, hacking through the jungle, with reclaiming their captured airfield in mind.
Marine manpower was too limited to maintain a continuous perimeter on the Island, and all the troops could do was guard the more obvious approaches to the airfield (renamed Henderson Field in honor of a Marine pilot killed at Midway). Corporal Joseph F. Enders was part of a group of reinforcements brought in that night along the beaches of Lunga Point, on September 12, when a horde of Japanese attacked.
His lieutenant had been killed in combat the night before. None of the sergeants made it off the landing craft, leaving Enders in charge of his first command -- a godforsaken beachhead on the ass end of nowhere, draped in a thickness of fog, as if all the smoke of the war's battles had been wrapped up in one big ball and dropped on that sorry stretch of sand.
A dark, lanky loner, with a sharp-featured face and sorrowful eyes, Enders -- like many of the men under him -- had a touch of malaria that hellish night. He would survive the bloody battle in a dense fog penetrable only by bullets; but the memories would be similarly draped in fog, and would return to him again and again in the months ahead, to where he could no longer distinguish between them -- dream and memory, memory and dream....
The fog floated, so thick you could almost grab onto it; the world was a blur of gray, with only the sounds emanating from deep within its mysterious non-landscape achieving any clarity -- and then merely dull, hollow sounds: boondockers slogging across sand, the clank of gear, the sucking in of breath.
Only the occasional gunfire attained sharpness in this smeary world -- like the tracer rounds, burning incandescently through the enveloping gray, like tiny ghastly Fourth of July rockets. Enders perceived them as if in slow motion, one to his right, then another to his left, no time, no need, to duck ... no name on these bullets -- not his name, anyway, not yet....
His men were behind him -- that much he knew...and little else...as he raised his Thompson submachine gun and blasted into the fog, fanningly returning fire in the direction of those tracer rounds, hoping to God (or the devil if need be) that the unseen enemy might catch that burning lead, not some poor leatherneck bastard who'd wandered off course in the haze.
Enders seemed to be firing forever, the weapon's recoil slowed, bullets inching from a white-hot barrel. Was he in a dream? Or just in that nightmare of combat that threatens, at any instant, not to wake you screaming, but rather put you to permanent sleep?
A shriek pierced the fog, as sharp -- sharper -- than the sound of bullets, some of which had found purchase in the chest of a Japanese soldier who'd materialized out of the fog, so as not to die unnoticed, it would seem.
The shot soldier's scream banished that slowed down sense of the corporal's, sharpening Enders's perception, as more Japs materialized, phantoms appearing out of the fog, in their uniforms the color of brown wrapping paper, their kepis with sunshielding swatches waving at their necks like white flags, only these bastards were hardly surrendering. They were shouting, "Banzai!" and "Die, Marine!" as the glint, the icy wink, of flashing bayonet blades danced like lightning in the gliding vapor.
His Thompson chopped several of them to kindling, but one demon, coming at his blind side, lunged forward, Enders catching the bayonet glint too late to react in time...
... but the blade was not fated for him. The Jap had instead jabbed the spike of steel into Private Tommy Kittring's shoulder, as he stepped up alongside the corporal. Kittring (of Atlanta, Georgia) frowned, as if he'd been stung by one of those damn malaria skeeters, and his gaunt, boyish face...so near Enders ... did not register pain, not immediately.
Windtalkers. Copyright © by Max Collins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
amazeing. absolutly amazeing. so darn good im afraid to watch the movie just incase they ruin it. LOVED IT...
Windtalkers is a good book for people who enjoy war and drama. Two Navajo Indians 'codetalkers', their body guards and marines set out to Saipan and go north to concour Japan, fighting useing their language, their weapons and their wits. Facing problems the whole way through, some still stand through the gore, the fighting and the horror of war.
This is a great book detailing US Marine efforts during WWII to send protected orders to GI's during the Pacific campaign. The answer was to create a form of communication based on an unwritten language ¿ Navajo. Before the windtalkers, the Japanese were able to break every US code and gain advantage in battle. Windtalkers provides insight into the dedicated Navajo professionals who served their country with pride and distinction and those assigned to protect the code at all costs. Japanese decoders never broke the code and the program was so successful that it remained classified for 25 years. Book was so captivating that I could not put it down until I read it in one sitting!
this is a great war novel. i read it in a weekend because i couldn't put it down.
this book is not hard,boring,or to long!!.It is fun and exciteing.It has a few bad words but hay, if you were in they're possitions you would too.It's not to bloody and bad.there is some funny parts but the rest is bravery.you should read this amazing book.
The major drawback of this book is that the author does not explain the military lingo --I was in the Air Force so I'd imagine that a military neophyte would be more lost than me! The plus side of this novel made me really appreciate the efforts of the American Indians.