August 11, 2021 7:36 AM EDT

In his acclaimed 2005 novel, prolific author Joseph Bruchac, winner of the Native Writers Circle of the Americas’ Lifetime Achievement Award, brings to life the extraordinary story of the Navajo code talkers of World War II. Bruchac’s narrative following fictional Navajo Marine Ned Begay weaves more than two decades’ worth of research into a dramatization of the real story of the group who helped the Allied forces win the war by using their tribal language to send secret, uncrackable messages across battlefields in the Pacific theater. Thought-provoking and action-packed, Code Talker is narrated by Ned, now an elderly grandfather, recounting his struggles as a young man called to fight for a country that marginalized him throughout his entire life. Bruchac deftly sheds light on the harrowing circumstances that Indigenous people faced during an already arduous time period. In his own words: “I tried very hard to neither glorify war nor demonize the enemy, but to see it all through Indian eyes, which is a very different way of seeing.” —Megan McCluskey

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