A fabulous memoir by Chester Nez, with Judith Schiess Avila. This is history at its best. Nez grew up in the Checkerboard region of the Navajo Reservation of New Mexico in the 1920's. He was given the name "Chester Nez" in kindergarten in boarding school and was forced to speak, read, and write in English although he didn't yet know the language. As a teenager, the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor spurred him to enlist in the Marines (Native Americans did not yet have the right to vote at that time).
During World War II, the Japanese had broken every code the Americans used. The Marines turned to the Navajo recruits to develop and implement a code based on their native language. They created the only unbreakable code in modern warfare and helped assure victory over Japan in the South Pacific. Chester Nez was one of those man who developed the code and used it in battle. This is his story.