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Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII Hardcover – September 6, 2011
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"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)
“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: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters
“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
“A remarkably affecting first-person account of the Navajo Marines who served their country with distinction through some of the worst battles of the Pacific theater.”—The Washington Times
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Memoir of the last original code talker, Chester Nez as told to Judith Schiess Avila
This is a story that truly has something for everyone. History, touching human drama and Native American experiences woven brilliantly into a beautifully written story that restores your faith in the strength and courage of humanity.
Sometimes a hero bursts upon the scene like Superman leaping over a tall building in a single bound. But sometimes a hero puts one foot in front of the other to face the trials and challenges of life with courage, faith and quiet dignity.
Chester Nez spent most of his life as one of those unknown heroes. His footsteps took him from the Navajo reservation where he was born to the school where he was forbidden to speak his native language. When he left school to join the marines those footsteps took him to the shores of Guadalcanal in World War II.
Using the Navajo language he became a member of the team that developed the only code the Japanese were unable to break. This system enabled the US to communicate plans that helped bring victory earlier and saved countless lives.
But there was no welcoming parade for Nez when the war was over, he returned to face the prejuidice of living as a minority. The role of the code talkers remained secret for decades.
After meeting Nez, Avila also put one foot in front of herself for four years to bring his unique personal story to light. The years spent interviewing Nez, researching and polishing this story were well spent. Her first book is considered to be an "important work" by historians and a "great read" in general.
The human interest of this compelling story makes it a perfect choice for anyone simply looking for a good book.Read more ›
Semper Fi, Chester ... I can only hope that some day I may have the honor of meeting you.
Then, the next thing you know, the government is relying on you to develop a code within that forbidden language. A code so difficult to crack that even members of your own culture who speak the language will not be able to understand what it means.
Chester Nez describes it best:
"The officer wasted no time. He looked around the room at each of us, the twenty-nine carefully selected Marine recruits, and told us we were to use our native language to devise an unbreakable code. I read expressions of shock on every face. A code based on our language? After we'd been so severely punished in boarding school for speaking it?"
Chester is the last living representative of the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II. The code language he and his fellow recruits developed and used in battle was one of the most closely guarded secrets of the war. Historians agree that without it, the outcome of the war would have been completely different.
This month, Chester published his memoir, based on 80 hours of interviews with Judith Schiess Avila. Chester's story, not to mention his ability to stay calm while interpreting, is definitely worth reading.
Paul C Covel
USNR Gator Navy
USS San Marcos LSD 25
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are looking for a one of a kind history book this is it. There really is only one book written by a Code Talker and this book he explains how the famous talkers where... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Toe Tag
If you ever had a book that kept your interest and you hated to put it down then this is the book for you. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Fred Dunajek
I loved this book. I just wish the government hadn't waited so long to honor them.
They did what no one else could and should have been acknowleged much sooner. Read more
This is a great movie but it leaves out the other tribes that highly contributed which were Choctaw and Cherokee as well. Read morePublished 16 days ago by gingerlead
I purchased this after finding out about this gentlemen and what his people did to help win World War II. Read morePublished 25 days ago by J. Phillips
Good story but did not care for the writing style. It's written as a memoir but the voice I kept hearing was the coauthor's. In only a few places did I hear Mr. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Howlin Bob