Code Talker by Chester Nez & Judith Schiess Avila

Genre: modern history
Secondary genre: war
Format read: audiobook
Content warnings: violence, racism, cruelty to animals
Rep: Native American (Navajo)
Rating: planchet-4

Navajo is a very tricky language. It’s said that one has to be born into it to speak it fluently because there are so many subtleties in pronunciation and meaning that an outsider just can’t pick them all up.

This is why the US government selected Navajo as the basis for it’s code during WWII.

Code Talkers is the story of Chester Nez, one of the original Code Talkers, from his upbringing just outside the Navajo reservation in New Mexico through his service in the Pacific theater, to his life after the war. It covers the many hardships and abuses visited on his family and his people by the government, and the fierce sense of patriotism that still lived in him. It is told in his own words, recorded by journalist Judith Schiess Avila.

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve learned how bad things are for Native peoples in the US and Canada, even today. I was unprepared for the events at the beginning of this book, and that fact that Chester and his compatriots remained fiercely loyal to the US, despite everything, I think shows a strength that I would not have.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more about life for Native Americans or the hidden history of WWII.

For more information on conditions in American reservations, I highly encourage you to look at the Navajo Water Project, which the readers of my main blog voted to sponsor as our 2019 charity.