Saturday, July 27, 2013

World War Z: An Oral History of The Zombie War - Max Brooks

Title: World War Z: An Oral History of The Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks
Publisher: Crown Publishers, 2006 (Hardcover)
Length: 342 pages
Genre: Adult; Apocalyptic Fiction
Started: July 20, 2013
Finished: July 27, 2013

From the inside cover:

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing he often raw and vivd nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, "By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn't the human factor the only true difference between us and the 'living dead'?"

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

I'll admit, I love me a good zombie story. I haven't seen the movie yet, but apparently it's vastly different from the book so it doesn't really matter here.

This book isn't written like your typical survivor story; it's almost laid out like a cross between a documentary and an inquest, a series of vignettes where the author interviews survivors ten years after the war. The interviews are laid out in close to chronological order according to their content, and some accounts overlap a bit depending on the subject. Some readers won't like this format because it doesn't follow one or even a few individuals solely throughout the war in a linear fashion, rather many accounts are pieced together to give an overall impression of the events from many areas of the world from various types of people (military, medical, political, everyday people). I personally liked how the author handled it, it's appropriate in this context and it reads like a documentary (I'm a huge documentary fan).

If you're looking for something zombie-like akin to The Walking Dead, you won't really find it here. While there's definitely some good edge-of-your-seat sections, the book moreso deals with how governments, nations, and people in general react to an unimaginable crisis. You could insert any huge catastrophe (biological warfare, nuclear war, natural disaster) in place of zombies and it would still make sense and be an awesome novel.

Excellent format for the content, and a very satisfying read.

Thoughts on the cover:
Pretty basic, but it works.

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