"Nez's fascinating memoir details...[keeping] U.S. transmissions safe from the Japanese during WWII...[R]eaders will be captivated by stories of Nez's childhood and his days as a Marine."
"You don't need to be a fan of World War II literature to appreciate this memoir by Chester Nez and his co-author Judith Schiess Avila, a code talker scholar."
Associated Press (AP)
"A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation."
Kirkus Reviews (The World's Toughest Book Critics)
"From Guadalcanal through Bougainville to Peleliu, Nez relates a riveting tale of jungle combat and his personal struggle to adapt to civilian life following the most cataclysmic war in our nation’s history. Gripping in its narrative, Code Talker is history at its best."-- Colonel Cole C. Kingseed, U.S. Army (Ret.), co-author of Beyond Band of Brothers
"A fascinating inside look at one of WWII’s most closely guarded secrets…This is an important book, a previously untold piece of our history."-- Marcus Brotherton, author of Shifty's War
"You don’t need to be a fan of World War II literature to appreciate this memoir…a fascinating melange of combat in the Pacific theater, the history of the Navajo people and the development of a uniquely American code."-- The Associated Press
"A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation." -- Kirkus Reviews
From the Author
My friend, Navajo code talker Chester Nez, died on June 4, 2014, at the age of 93. He was laid to rest in the National Cemetery in Santa Fe. To honor him, New Mexico flags were flown at half mast. Police closed the 55 miles of freeway leading from his funeral in Albuquerque to the cemetery, so the funeral cortege could pass. Drivers, pulled to the side of the highway, stood by the road saluting, while 400+ motorcycle honor guards followed the casket. A fine farewell for a humble man who was not even issued a birth certificate back in 1921.
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I first met Chester in January, 2007, and recorded his stories for three years. Writing Chester's memoir changed both of our lives for the better. I gained a second family and a deeper understanding of a culture different from my own, and Chester was thrilled that readers would learn how he and his fellow Navajos, the WWII code talkers, helped their country win WWII.
This is a story that remained a secret for too long. I hope that you will enjoy reading our book as much as we enjoyed writing it!!
The book's dedication says a lot about Chester's desire to have all code talkers recognized:
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.