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.
While the Japanese could figure out many World War II American codes and transmissions, they could not crack the Navajo Code Talkers. Nez was one of the original Code Talkers serving with the Marines. Here, with Avila (New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities Chautauqua Program), a Code Talker scholar, he tells of a hard New Mexico childhood in the Great Depression; the discrimination against Native Americans; how the code was developed from a language with no written background; his dangerous wartime experiences on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, and Peleliu; and his postwar life. The big picture of the Pacific Campaign is only selectively mentioned; instead there's lots of detail of personal effort, suffering, and boredom, summoning the true flavor of the war and a portrait of those who made a valuable contribution to the war effort. The appendix is a 1945 "Navajo Code Talkers Dictionary" from the U.S. Navy, also available online. VERDICT Accessible and compelling, this is recommended for general readers as well as World War II history buffs. --Daniel K. Blewett (Reviewed October 1, 2011) (Library Journal, vol 136, issue 16, p90)