Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Code Talker

Joseph Bruhac uses the storytelling style to have the main character, Ned Begay, tell of his experiences as a Navajo code talker in World War II to his grandchildren. Bruhac does not want the reader to forget that Native Americans were often forced to drop their language and customs to be accepted as part of the society of the United States. During the war, the Navajos were asked to use their native language to radio battlefield information and commands in code -- this was a secret until 1969. The Japanese were never able to break this code!

Ned, who is only 16 when he joins the Marines, sees action on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Iwo Jima; he is injured on Guam. Other Marines are assigned to keep him safe, but that is not always possible. The narrator's experiences in battle change him, but he takes pride in being able to use his culture to protect the United States. This is a good book for anyone interested in the history of World War II.

For more information look-up Navajo code talkers, World War II fact sheet, or Navajo Code Talkers (from the U.S. Mint).

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