Chester Nez, the only surviving member of the original 29 Navajo code talkers, shares the fascinating inside story of his life and service during World War II.
©2011 Chester Nez and Judith Avila (P)2011 Tantor
"A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation." (Kirkus)
Absolutely would listen again. Simply for the truth of the way things were for native americans.
Chester Nez, because of his honesty
The landing on the beach.
Wonderful story telling for the reason of honest history by one who lived it.
Being an old Marine out of the Vietnam War I could appreciate what was done that was one tough assignment for all listen and learn history at its best
On the sacred mountain remembering his brothers
Almost like being there Audiobook close your eyes or just listening a world of difference Love my AudioBooks!
I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.
I very much enjoyed "Code Talkers", especially as a mild interlude to "The Wheel of Time" which I've been non stop listening to thru 5 big long audiobooks...I really needed a break and this was perfect.
Most are at least familiar with the story of the Navaho Code Talkers of WWII however this book goes deeper into the story of the young Navaho's, many of whom came directly off the reservation as farmers and sheepherders, listened to a Marine tell them about the secret critical mission Navaho and English speakers were needed for and were at the recruiting station the next day. Most didn't have time to talk to their families as most families didn't have phones.
As backstory, Mr Nez goes lightly into his personal history as a boarding house student who was punished for speaking his native language, the way his family lived when he was a child in the 1920's and 1930's and the treatment of native Americans during that time-this is lightly touched on and not a big part of the story but it's important for the listener to have an understanding of the situation.
I highly recommend this audio book for all ages, especially for teens who need to hear about young heroes who, when the country declared itself at war with Japan, wrote that they were warriors and wanted to defend their country as its first citizens-even though the government had mistreated them for over a hundred years.
This book explained how the USA was able to use a homegrown and little respected national Resource to maintain our national Freedom.
Inspiring, interesting, fascinating
Chester's use of his heritage, the Sing, to deal with the trauma of war
It was amazing to see how these men grew despite difficulties at the Indian Schools then used that strength to benefit others
The first time I learned about code talkers was over a hot, humid summer in Missouri, during basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. One of my drill sergeants was part Native American, and he proudly told the story of the unbreakable code Navajos created in World War II.
Event though Sgt. Duke wasn't one of "the dineh" he was carrying on the Navajo tradition of telling fascinating stories, just as Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila do in "Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII" (2012).
The extended title of the book sounds almost too formal, but it is precise in a way Nez must have insisted on. At the end of WWI, a US Army battalion in France used Choctaw soldiers as ad hoc code talkers. Seminoles served as code talkers in Europe in WWII, while Navajos served in the Pacific.
Nez was one of the original 29 men, fluent in Navajo and English, recruited from schools and reservations in Arizona and New Mexico, to develop a top secret code. The military was desperate: the Japanese had broken every other code, and machine encryption using a one-use code took hours to encrypt and decrypt. Navajo was ideal: it was rarely written at the time (it was well after WWII that the Navajo Nation even agreed on an alphabet); it was extremely difficult for non-native speakers to learn; and Navajos were raised to memorize long stories.
"Code Talkers" works exceptionally well as an Audible book, especially with the way this story is told. Nez and Avila weave Navajo customs and traditions, such as a medicine bag, into 'a day in battle life' narrative, Nez served as a code talker at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Angaur and Peleliu - without ever being allowed to take leave. Nez was about to ship out to Iwo Jima when someone pulled his jacket and realized he'd accumulated enough points to be honorably discharged.
Nez shipped stateside for a few months of medical care, and then went home to his family and their land. He started to have nightmares, haunted by the 'chindi' (evil remnants) of the hundreds of dead enemy soldiers he'd seen. Nez - and the estimated 400 to 500 other Navajo code talkers - kept their work secret, even when tormented by wicked memories.
"Code Talkers" has a lengthy description of Navajo sings - including The Enemy Way, a traditional Navajo cure. Nez went through an Enemy Way shortly after his service ended. More than 20 years later, when his work was declassified and he faced too many questions, he went through another Enemy Way ceremony, followed by a Blessing Way. Absolutely fascinating - and, as Nez would have said himself - they worked because he expected them to work.
David Colacci is an accomplished narrator. Well, that's an understatement after 160+ narrated titles. I don't know if his Navajo pronunciation was correct or not, with the exception of the handful of Navajo words I've heard spoken by native speakers - and those sounded right to me. But, as good as Colacci is in this Audible, I wish Tantor had found a native Navajo speaker to narrate this. The actual language is just that important. This is the first time I'm giving a Colacci audible less than a 5, but it's not a Colacci Issue: it's a producer problem.
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Perhaps this is premature, but if I could stay engaged long enough to finish my listen I might come back to this review and revise it. A fascinating subject by an authority on the material---so why is it so remote? I wanted to know this man because of the respect I have for his willingness to fight for a country who betrayed his people so violently. I'm only a third of the way into it, but the only thing I learned was that the Navajo's language was not unusual enough (HUH? How many Japanese do you know speak Navajo?) that the Codetalkers had to create another language to carry out their duties...more later if I stay awake while listening.
They wisely advise the reader at the jump that they do not guarantee absolute accuracy and parallel reporting with historical text. Whenever Chester's memory differs from historical record they make a non-inside note.
Book is about half personal memoir and half war memoir. The opening chapters deal with his childhood and some of his peoples history which may be told in better detail in other books but it helps the impact of the wartime narration. Later chapters nice through emotional sounding events a bit too hastily for them to have much effect but his personality is still present.
Recommended. For those curious the narrator sounds just fine at 1.5x speed.
This is an excellent memoir of Chester Nez. Not an historic overview of the Code Talkers, though there's some of that, but the life and memories of one of the original 29. The pre- and post war material is helpful.
This Audible production included a phrase to the effect of "this ends disc... the audiobook continues on the next disc," which I found amusing.
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