Chester Nez & Judith Avila Code Talker

Last updated date: December 6, 2021

DWYM Score

9.4

Chester Nez & Judith Avila Code Talker

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We looked at the top Biography & History Books and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Biography & History Book you should buy.

Update as December 2, 2021:
Checkout The Best Biography & History Books for a detailed review of all the top biography & history books.

Overall Take

This memoir tells the tale of Chester Nez, a Navajo man who was recruited by the Marines during World War II to create a secret military language that helped the United States achieve their victory over Japan. It is filled with moments of intrigue, bravery and honor.


In our analysis of 14 expert reviews, the Chester Nez & Judith Avila Code Talker placed 2nd when we looked at the top 6 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

His name wasn’t Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn’t stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strength—both physical and mental—to excel as a marine. During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare—and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

8.7
3 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.6
2,280 user reviews

What experts liked

The book not only tells of the development of the code, and the battles in which it was used, but shares the author’s life growing up on the Navajo reservation, and his life after the war. His humor, humility and wisdom make this worth reading.
- Good Reads
The best part of the book is that it isn’t just a book about war, it is Nez’s personal story. It is written in a conversational tone, almost as if he were in the room with you and telling you about his life’s trials and tribulations, and his conflict with his Navajo upbringing, war and life outside the Checkerboard.
- BookBub
It provides new insight into the development of the code and the Navajo cultural and historical background. This book will appeal to anyone looking for more background behind the code talker’s program through the experiences of one of its creators.
- Armchair General

What experts didn't like

While I appreciate Judith Schiess Avila's commitment to Cheter Nez's "voice" I found the prose repetitive and flat.
- Good Reads
A bit too much filler.
- BookBub
Although Code Talker does not contain detailed battle experiences or tactical details of messages transmitted, it makes the story of the code talkers personal through the lens of one man’s experience.
- Armchair General

An Overview On Biography & History Books

Historical non-fiction books tell the stories of past ages with realistic details and facts. Some center around historical events, like the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the Holocaust, while others focus on powerful figures from history, like Martin Luther King, Jr. These books often depict broader views of past societies and reflect on how the events impacted peoples’ lives and brought us to our present reality.

Meanwhile, books of historical fiction transport readers back in time with made-up narratives set in real places and eras of history. Information about the traditions, manners and social norms are accurate and authentic, as are much of the events and people described.

But in the case of historical fiction, the setting, plot, dialogues, characters and conflicts can be a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Thus, these works can bring readers to another time and place, but at the expense of some accuracy.

Historical non-fiction and historical fiction are similar genres, but purists generally prefer non-fiction historical books, including personal accounts (memoirs) that retell exactly how things happened.

When shopping for historical books to buy as gifts, think about what the recipient’s hobbies and interests are. For example, a child who wanted to dress up as Cleopatra for Halloween might be interested in Egyptian history. Someone who is really into making their own clothes might like to read about Coco Chanel, and a biography about Malcolm X might be perfect for a reader who wants to learn more about African American history.

The Biography & History Book Buying Guide

  • Historical books make great holiday gifts for readers of all ages. However, if you are buying for children, make sure the book is suitable for the age and reading level of your young recipient. If it is too complicated or describes upsetting historical events, you might consider finding a different book.
  • World War II history buffs love to read books that detail the entire war, as well as more focused ones about specific battles, key players like Harry Truman and other war heroes.
  • Read the reviews on the back covers of these books. Typically, such reviews are from literary critics or other authors. This is a great source of insight about the texts.