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.
"A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation." (Kirkus)
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Interesting Listen for WWII Buffs
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.
a fascinating book