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Code Talker

Nez, Chester

(Book - 2011)
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
Code Talker
Penguin Putnam

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, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.

In this memoir, the eighty-nine-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.

Baker & Taylor
A retired Marine and Navajo Indian describes his experiences as one of 29 top-secret code talkers during World War II and how his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation prepared him for his service. 30,000 first printing.

Book News
This memoir explores the life and times of Chester Nez the last surviving Navajo code-talker of World War II. The personal narrative recounts the development of the unbreakable Navajo code and the daring and courage of the Indian men who helped win the war in the Pacific. The work includes a collection of gloss black and white plates and will be of interest to general readers as well as war historians interested in codes and cryptography. Co-author Avila is a code talker scholar with the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

A retired Marine and Navajo Indian describes his experiences as one of twenty-nine top-secret code talkers during World War II and how his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation prepared him for his service.

Publisher: New York : Berkley Caliber, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0425244237
Branch Call Number: B Nez N
Characteristics: viii, 310 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Avila, Judith Schiess


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"During World War II, Japanese codebreakers successfully cracked many of the Americans' encrypted communications -- until the U.S. Navy developed a code based on the Navajo language. Marines who were native speakers of Navajo safely transmitted and received messages about operations in the Pacific theater until the end of the war. In Code Talker, one of these Marines, Chester Nez, relates his life story, providing details of his traditional Navajo childhood and his reasons for enlisting, the fierce engagements on Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and other locations, and his postwar life." Biography and Memoir November 2014 newsletter

Jun 18, 2014
  • ReadingWriter rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reading this book was made more poignant when the author, Chester Nez, passed away at the age of 93 recently. He was one of the original
"code talkers," who changed the course of WWII by using the Navajo language as the basis of an unbreakable code.. It was a difficult book for me to read due to the details about the war, injustice to the Navajo people and tragedy in his own life, Yet, his spirit shines through in the easy, conversational prose, and I felt as if I were listening to his stories in person. Reading the fascinating details about how the code was developed, and what the Marine code talkers accomplished in very difficult situations, was inspiring and a real way to honor what they did.

A hard book to read, but when if you really want to understand you get a grasp of the writing. A great book for history learning.


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