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by Nathan Aaseng

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-8027-8182-9
Publisher: Walker

 The gripping story of the Native American volunteers who provided a unique military service during WW II to the very government that had oppressed their people. Using their own language, specially trained Navajo transmitted messages that the enemy could neither read nor falsify, greatly facilitating military operations in the Pacific. The background information here is particularly effective; few books so concisely summarize the Japanese advance and the American response to it, while none provides the same depth of insight into the conditions faced by these Navajo. Particularly interesting are how hard it was for them to convince other Americans that they weren't Japanese, and how some of the talkers attributed their safe return to blessing ceremonies conducted on their behalf by Navajo healers. Aaseng also shows the importance of coded communications to military operations, giving examples of how the early cracking of Japanese codes led directly to some crucial victories. After the war came white ignorance and neglect: the talkers were not officially thanked until 25 years later. An important story, compellingly told. Map; many b&w photos; source notes; bibliography; index. (Nonfiction. 9-14.)