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)
This book is the autobiography of one of the original Navajo code-talkers--the original group who invented the code that baffled Japanese cryptographers during World War II. Because the code remained classified until 1968, it's only recently that these men have received due credit for their remarkable achievement.
From life near the reservation in New Mexico, through a boarding school experience that can only be described as Dickensian, the story highlights the remarkable toughness and generosity of spirit of these young Navajo men. It's hard for most of us to imagine a childhood that involved being shipped away to boarding school--and at the end of the year, at the age of 8, with a 5-year-old sister in tow, having to walk home for three days with only a bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and being expected to find water along the way. But this toughness would stand Nez and his comrades in good stead during the war.
It's not surprising that these young men actually expressed delight at the quantity and quality of military rations.
I'd recommend this to anyone interested in the Pacific war, in the Native American experience, or in codes and cryptography. It could only have happened because a rather cruel experience produced people with just the right skills, who had the generosity of spirit to fight for a country that hadn't treated them well. Nez is in his 90's now, and is the last survivor of the original group. I'm glad that his story got written down.
I loved this book. The native americans have been mistreated and treated unfairly, but when they had an opportunity to do so, they stepped forward without hesitation and made one of the biggest contributions to winning the war over Japan . I loved hearing the story of the life of this humble man. His story made me want to learn more about the navajo culture.
I had heard of the code talkers when the news was first released about their activities but had not given it much thought until I picked up this book.
They really WERE heroes. I had imagined them at a desk, talking into microphones. In this story I learn they were in the rot of the jungle, carrying rifles and fighting for their lives (and mine.) Most of my family were Marines that fought in that area so I thank them for their help in bringing those members of my family home.
Told in a simple but very true voice, this story is fascinating. Chester's childhood as a traditional Navajo was a happy one of following the herds of sheep and goats until he was sent to boarding school. The school was very hard but he learned English and it was his dual fluency in Navajo and English that allowed him to be one of the original Code Talkers who developed the Navajo code that was one of the most valuable weapons the marines had in the Pacific. Using the code machine it could take 30 minutes to transmit and tranlate a message that the code talkers could sent in 20 seconds. Chester served as a code talked on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guan and Peleiliu (the worst battle of the war one marine general said). His life was one of hardship and bravery but he think he only did what was expected and says that Navajo feel one should not praise behaior that is expect. A moving, thought provoking story.
The narrator's voice suited the story beautifully. I easily imagined I was hearing Chester speak.
Tell us about yourself!
Yes, this is a fantastic story and the performance was excellent.
I cant think of one. The style was very plain, which suited this book. I could imagine this being a conversation with the author
I enjoyed learning about some of the traditions
I was eager to get back to this story each time I had to take a break
I just finished this today and have already recommended it. The first hand history. The openness of writer sharing his life story with us. His ability to paint pictures with his words is a true gift.
I love everything about this man. I love that Chester Nez forever put it all down for us. He never stopped giving of himself for his country for us to his very last days. I love that he shared so openly about his childhood. I was in awe of his sharing and description of the Navajo traditions that helped heal him from some of his war experiences. His ability to tell his story keeping the oral tradition of The People alive just overwhelms me. His battle descriptions were hard, but needing to be heard and somehow really came through to me, they were not over dramatized or elaborate, but I really, truly heard and felt the fear and the determination.This book helped me put together pieces of the some of the WWII puzzle, I never quite grasped before.
No, I have not.
I would like to say, for any boomers out there who may not have understood their fathers, please listen to this story. If helped me understand my father even though his war was was not in the South Pacific and he was not Native American. Chester Nez filled some blanks in for me, it may be one of the most important books I have read.I am once again filled with gratitude and awe. Hearing Chester Nez speak his beautiful language at the end repeating the very first code he spoke all that time ago made me weep.
Chester Nez lays out an inspiring journey that took him from his Native American homeland to a key strategic role in World War II, and on to a life in pursuit of the American dream. One of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've listened to in over a decade as an AudibleListener. Narration was super too.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
How is it that some of the people treated most badly in this country end up being some of the best heroes and patriots?
I know an American woman of Japanese descent who spent years in an interment camp while her two brothers served very honorably in the US Armed Services. She was never bitter, but she has only recently told her story, even to her family.
Here we have Chester Nez, a boy forced to attend an abusive boarding school, which would forbid him his language, change his name, and denigrate his culture. Yet he - and other Navajos - responded to a call to serve this country that so undervalued his people. He performed extraordinary deeds in the Marines and agreed never to divulge the extent of his service. Amazing.
This account is told simply and in a most straightforward style. The war sections are interesting, but the book also includes a fascinating account of the early years of this Navajo boy and then his years after the war. The combination makes for more than a story for WWII buffs; it's a true American tale.
I for one am so glad that Chester Nez finally decided to tell his story. I learned a lot from this book - I recommend it to others.
Montana wanna be
This is a tribute to the outstanding contribution the Code Talkers made to the war in the Pacific. Great job of integrating Navajo culture and history.
I was looking forward to learning about the Navajo Indians and the unbreakable code that they created. I admire them and am proud that they received medals of honor.
The book, however, is often boring and I feel that you must like history in order to be able to enjoy it. There were so many facts in the book, that it was not entertaining.
After listening to the audible, I wish that I had purchased the book instead. I have learned that the book includes the Final Dictionary of code words and more than 30 personal photographs! You can't enjoy those on audible.
David Colacci did an excellent job narrating the book.
I am not disappointed that I listened to it because I feel it is important history about the Navajos and their dedication to winning the war and protecting our soldiers. The book, however, as mentioned above would have been better if only I had time to sit and read.
The highlight to me was in the end where we were able to hear the original code talker, Chester Nez, being interviewed and listen to him speak a code in his native tongue.
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