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Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By…

Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code…

by Chester Nez

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Fascinating story that needs to be told, but by a better writer. Since it is Native American Heritage Month it seemed like a good idea to read this (I've also had it for several years, oops). It is the story of one of the Navajo Code Talkers from his childhood to military service and the formulation of the code. 
It seemed like a fascinating story but unfortunately the author is terrible. I wasn't sure if it was me perhaps not being in the mood for a book like but it appears from the other reviews I'm not alone. At best the book is extremely uneven. His beginnings (including his childhood, being sent to boarding schools and the like, etc.) were interesting and I was sad to see that yes, his experiences were pretty much what they were reported to be: children forced to speak English only, faced with bullying from both teachers and older students (although in Nez's case it appears it wasn't as terrible as it could have been), etc. 
Admittedly books about military service and history rarely excite me and that was the same here. The create of the code was probably among the more interesting bits for me vs. the battles and descriptions of wartime injuries and deaths (it's not graphic but it's obviously part of the story he's telling) but again, unfortunately the author is just not up to snuff in telling this tale. 
However, it is an important part of history (which Nez and his fellow Code Talkers were not allowed to discuss until 1968) and an interesting juxtaposition. The same country that took away their land, took advantage of his people (and other Native nations), and continues to have a bad record in treating Natives turned to Nez and fellow Navajos to save the country and the world during World War II. 
I'm not sure I'd really recommend this book except as a library borrow but it is a part of history and the contributions of Nez and fellow Code Talkers should not be ignored.  ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
A fine personal history of the code talkers. I especially liked the part when he got home from the war and had to figure out how to assimilate himself back into American and Indian culture. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
First hand account of the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII. Excellent read! I had never heard of the Navajo Livestock Reduction done by our government in the 1930s, which Chester Nez lived through and still volunteered to serve. Amazing journey. ( )
  revslick | Aug 23, 2015 |
Listening to the audio was very much like sitting at grandfather Nez' feet and hearing his life story. The story line is focused, but the language is repetitive and unoriginal, which made for some fidgitys.

But I was glad to have heard the bulk of it, as Nez' contribution to the war was significant, and he certainly deserves a respectful listen. So I didn't squirm or roll my eyes in his presence.

I learned a lot more about the Pacific war theater than I have been exposed to before, and that was also a good thing.

I will probably move on to other accounts of this aspect of the war, and sample some of the fiction as well.

PS: What a brilliant communication coding concept! ( )
  2wonderY | Jun 4, 2015 |
Joy's review: Well, just about everyone else in the book group really enjoyed this book. The story is of a very interesting life: Navajo boy grows up herding sheep, goes to boarding school where his mouth gets washed out with lye soap if he speaks Navajo, becomes a Marine and helps develop the Navajo code that is uncrackable during the war, goes home to a state that does not allow him to vote. That's what the group liked. I just found the conversational style of the book quite dull and would have preferred to read it as an article in Smithsonian or such. ( )
  konastories | Feb 25, 2015 |
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This book is dedicated to the 420 World War II Navajo Marine code talkers - men who developed and implemented an unbreakable communications system that helped ensure the American defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific war.

When the war ended, other combatants were free to discuss their roles in the service and to receive recognition for their actions. But the Marines instructed us, the code talkers, to keep our accomplishments secret. We kept our own counsel, hiding our deeds from family, friends, and acquaintances. Our code was finally declassified in 1968, twenty-three years after the war's end.

This book may be my story, but it is written for all of these men.

May they and their loved ones walk in beauty.
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"I'm no hero." Chester Nez chuckles.
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Book description

His name wasn't Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn't stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strength - both physical and mental - to excel as a Marine.

During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, the created the only unbroken code in modern warfare - and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425244237, Hardcover)

The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos.
Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty-nine Navajo code talkers, Chester Nez is the only one still alive. The original twenty-nine were the men who first devised the code, then proved it indispensable in combat.

In this memoir, the ninety-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation - the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:21 -0400)

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Chester Nez, the last surviving member of the original twenty-nine code talkers, discusses his life growing up in the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo reservation, and shares the story of how he helped the United States develop and implement a secret military language based on his native language during World War II that became the only unbroken code in modern warfare.… (more)

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