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)
The story is fascinating and simply spoken. I knew of The Code Talkers but not of the dangers they faced. Of particular sociological interest and biases in this country, they came home from Dangerous and honorable service in the marines and did not have the right to vote.
I loved Chester's simple way of communicating his life experiences, interposed with Native spirituality, neither glossing over bad parts nor glorifying their horror. The complex relationship between a Navajo and the US Government is complex and sticky, and I never once considered it, even though we have similar concerns with First Nations people here in Canada.
His narration neither dramatizes nor monotone, he was a fantastic narrative choice for this book.
Well worth your time, money and/or credit; I like this man's outlook, his faith, his courage.
An often overlooked part of American history
Unbroken, because it covers the same time period. Both men were shaped by their work in the war, although in drastically different ways
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
I can only marvel at Chester Nez' amazing memoir of growing up on the "checkerboard" as a young Navajo boy, his simple, but happy life with his family, the Navajo customs, his peaceful existence. Then he went off to boarding school, where he developed a tough outer skin and learned English, an education that, unbeknownst at the time, would later serve him well. My husband and I listened to Code Talker on a long trip to visit our kids, who live out of state. He's a retired Army Sergeant Major and we both LOVE the military and all who have served our great nation. This book especially touched us. Chester gave up all that he knew as home to serve a country that basically had displaced and taken over the Navajo nation in the past. There's none of that in this book, not a hint of bitterness. The Navajo approach to life is a simple one of love and beauty. Chester's service as a code talker in WWII caused him to break with many of his Navajo customs, such as touching dead bodies. He dealt with what we would call PTSD today, after his return following the war. The thing that I appreciated most about Code Talker is that it is the ENTIRE story of Chester Nez. It is his childhood, his service in the war and his post war experiences all the way until old age. And a marvelous story it is.
This was an engaging book. We not only get a very interesting history of the Code Talkers of WW2, we also get lots of great insight to the lives of Navajos in that same period. Both are very interesting, and the main character is likeable and has such a great story. The reader was very good as well, and captured the friendly tone of the author quite well. I found the whole book very good.
I very rarely read nonfiction but stories I had heard of the Code Talkers were so intriguing that I really wanted to read this book. The book was incredibly interesting as Mr. Nez shared not only his story of being a code talker but also of his upbringing, how his Navajo traditions and beliefs often conflicted with his military duties.
This is a great story filled with pride, sadness and compassion. A wonderful memoir rich in tradition and history.
This is a cross between a history book and an autobiography. They did a great job of making it interesting. The pace was so slow I listened at 1.5 speed. Definitely recommended.
Retired high school English teacher. I liked and worked with the at-risk student. Interested in about everything, but I love a good story.
Because of the secrecy surrounding the services of the Code-Talkers after WWII, these faithful soldiers didn't get the recognition they deserved. It's more than past time for this book and it's a pity that it shows up after the death of Chester Nez.
Chester Nez shares his story of growing up near a Navajo reservation of New Mexico. He pursued an educator to better himself but the education provided was designed to suppress his native language and culture. Fortunately, it did not succeed. The very complex and unwritten Navajo language proved the basis for an efficient and unbreakable code that saved 1000’s of American lives and speed the end of the way.
While the story of the Navajo “code talkers” is history, this book is not a history book, providing little of the larger picture of WW II or even Navajo life. Instead it is one’s man’s view of these realities that he and others faced on the reservation and the battlefield. While appreciate hearing it in his words, restricting the story to his experience reduces the depth of the story.
Chester shares unapologetically of his Navajo upbringing, with its focus on balance and harmony with nature, and its impact on his attitudes and actions. He shares also of the mistreatment he faces which also prepared him for the sacrifices he faced. Yet he does not dwell on these scenes much.
While I found the pace of the book slow at times, it is a story worth hearing (I listened to it at 1.25x).
While it differs from others, it was for me another story of the “greatest generation,” of those that lived through the very great challenges of 1930’s and 40’s, doing what they had to do. Despite the prosperity and ease of the day, I am prone be ungrateful and complain when I have less of these things than others or when work or life expects more of me than I would like. I find stories like this help me get over myself and move on with life.
Profoundly grateful for Audible books on my commutes and for my workouts!
This book gave great insight not only into how Chester Nez served his country, but also into his thoughts, feelings, and culture. He lived a life that is far different than anything I can imagine, and his outlook on life is inspiring. Although I wouldn't normally call this genre my favorite, this book clearly stands out. I bought this book on a daily deal and it was a $3-something well spent.
Chester Nez had a hard life. He talks about the most tragic events with care and gives you a sense of their weight and the impact they had on him. Throughout his hardships he maintains a sense of respect and pride for his country, his culture, and his family. This is especially shocking at times when those facets of his identity seem at odds.
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