Saturday, 20 January 2018

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

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Title - World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author - Max Brooks


It began with rumours from China about another pandemic... Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the 10-year fight-back against the horde, World War Z brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of civilisation.


If you’re a big lover of Zombie media (which is most people these days) you probably went and saw the Brad-Pitt-athon that was World War Z. I know I certainly went to see it.

Y’all. What a waste of source material. My God.

I picked up a copy of World War Z a couple of months back from a charity bookshop called “Healthy Planet”, who let you grab any 3 books and take them free of charge, and ask for donations if you want to or donations of books (I’m a big believer in their cause, by the way, if there’s a Healthy Planet near you then please donate!). I wasn’t really sure what the structure of the book was going to be, having only seen the movie, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it took the form of interviews with survivors of the Zombie War after the fact – it lent it this detached, documentary-like feel that instantly engaged me. The imagery was so vivid, both in the accounts of the interviewees and the occasional interjection from the author describing the subject’s mannerisms as they give their interview, that I truly felt as though this had been a real event and these were the harrowing survivor’s tales of people who had been through hell.

Yeah, the movie did not give me that feel. I promise I’ll stop ragging on it now.

Max Brooks divides the book into several parts, covering the entire war chronologically, beginning with tales about the first infections with isolated cases of Zombies cropping up across the world. The novel then moves on to discuss how the Zombies took the world completely unprepared, the measures that needed to be in place to prevent their spread but weren’t, and how it degenerated into a full-blown war. Tales of surviving soldiers talking about the last stands they fought in, where their comrades were dragged screaming to the ground by the living dead, withstanding everything but a precise headshot, chilled me to the bone, and Brooks gives an incredible sense of the desperation the world at large must have felt through these eyewitness accounts.

I remember one story regarding a battle to hold a bridge in Southern Asia where the Zombies stretched as far as the eye could see, the hopelessness of the interviewee as he talked about his commanding officer sacrificing himself to hold the line, and I reached for my phone to look up the event on Wikipedia to hear more about it before I realised it was fictional. I am not a smart man.

It’s hard to discuss the book in too much depth without giving the plot away, so I’ll say this. If you like Zombie related fiction, and you want to be immersed in one of the best examples of worldbuilding I’ve come across in a long time, then this book should move way, way up your “Yeah, I’ll read that at some point when I’ve got time” list.

(The movie sucked).

Product Details 
Paperback, 334 pages
Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd
Language: English 
Author's Website:
Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble

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