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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War [Hardcover]

Max Brooks
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 12 2006

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 the often raw and vivid 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 enemy we now refer to as ‘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.

Eyewitness reports from the first truly global war

“I found ‘Patient Zero’ behind the locked door of an abandoned apartment across town. . . . His wrists and feet were bound with plastic packing twine. Although he’d rubbed off the skin around his bonds, there was no blood. There was also no blood on his other wounds. . . . He was writhing like an animal; a gag muffled his growls. At first the villagers tried to hold me back. They warned me not to touch him, that he was ‘cursed.’ I shrugged them off and reached for my mask and gloves. The boy’s skin was . . . cold and gray . . . I could find neither his heartbeat nor his pulse.” —Dr. Kwang Jingshu, Greater Chongqing, United Federation of China

“‘Shock and Awe’? Perfect name. . . . But what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t! That’s what happened that day outside New York City, that’s the failure that almost lost us the whole damn war. The fact that we couldn’t shock and awe Zack boomeranged right back in our faces and actually allowed Zack to shock and awe us! They’re not afraid! No matter what we do, no matter how many we kill, they will never, ever be afraid!” —Todd Wainio, former U.S. Army infantryman and veteran of the Battle of Yonkers

“Two hundred million zombies. Who can even visualize that type of number, let alone combat it? . . . For the first time in history, we faced an enemy that was actively waging total war. They had no limits of endurance. They would never negotiate, never surrender. They would fight until the very end because, unlike us, every single one of them, every second of every day, was devoted to consuming all life on Earth.” —General Travis D’Ambrosia, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

Frequently Bought Together

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War + The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead + The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks
Price For All Three: CDN$ 46.96

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Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Brooks, the author of the determinedly straight-faced parody The Zombie Survival Guide (2003), returns in all seriousness to the zombie theme for his second outing, a future history in the style of Theodore Judson's Fitzpatrick's War. Brooks tells the story of the world's desperate battle against the zombie threat with a series of first-person accounts "as told to the author" by various characters around the world. A Chinese doctor encounters one of the earliest zombie cases at a time when the Chinese government is ruthlessly suppressing any information about the outbreak that will soon spread across the globe. The tale then follows the outbreak via testimony of smugglers, intelligence officials, military personnel and many others who struggle to defeat the zombie menace. Despite its implausible premise and choppy delivery, the novel is surprisingly hard to put down. The subtle, and not so subtle, jabs at various contemporary politicians and policies are an added bonus. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

"The Crisis" nearly wiped out humanity. Brooks (son of Mel Brooks and author of The Zombie Survival Guide, 2003) has taken it upon himself to document the "first hand" experiences and testimonies of those lucky to survive 10 years after the fictitious zombie war. Like a horror fan's version of Studs Terkel's The Good War (1984), the "historical account" format gives Brooks room to explore the zombie plague from numerous different views and characters. In a deadpan voice, Brooks exhaustively details zombie incidents from isolated attacks to full-scale military combat: "what if the enemy can't be shocked and awed? Not just won't, but biologically can't!" With the exception of a weak BAT-21 story in the second act, the "interviews" and personal accounts capture the universal fear of the collapse of society--a living nightmare in which anyone can become a mindless, insatiable predator at a moment's notice. Alas, Brad Pitt's production company has purchased the film rights to the book--while it does have a chronological element, it's more similar to a collection of short stories: it would make for an excellent 24-style TV series or an animated serial. Regardless, horror fans won't be disappointed: like George Romero's Dead trilogy, World War Z is another milestone in the zombie mythos. Carlos Orellana
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down Sept. 15 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books that I have read in a long while. Its descriptions of a zombie holocaust and the worldwide response to it is realistic.

The book is a collection of short stories told as a post war interview of survivors.

Stories range from all over the world(including outer space)a young soldier who recounts the disastrous battle of Yonkers where "shock and awe" tactics failed in the face of mindless undead hordes to the actions of the Chinese submarine commander.

What surprised me is the great amount of sympathy the reader gets when he reads some of the heart breaking tales in the book and even some of the ironic and even surprise twists that you get after some of the stories(eg. the twist at the end of the one about the inventor of the Redekker plans leaves a lot of questions and is quite unexpected).

Even after two readings, I was left with the feeling that I would like to know more about the world of world war z...Its a feeling rarely found in many a book...
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read Oct. 12 2006
This book is essentially a description of a future war with hordes of zombies told via interviews and news clips. Of course, for the narrative, they all take place well after the event, but the collection is enrapturing. Sometimes, some of the best parts of a movie about zombies, are the news clips and interviews the characters see on TV/hear on the radio, and that's basically what this book is all about.

From the interviews with soldiers fighting drug lords in Central Asia and doctors trying to stem the 'disease' in China, to action reports from the front lines of troops fighting the zombies to average citizens telling their tales of survival, it is a collection of anecdotes that are sometimes humourous, terrifying, or just plain intriguing.

A good solid read that kept me turning the pages until late into the night.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what to expect June 11 2013
By Dennis Madison TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
While I've had a passing interest in the recent Zombie popularity I never read a Zombie book or saw more than one episode of Walking Dead. The only experience I've had was the original Romero Night of the Living Dead film.
I'd seen World War Z on Amazon before and always considered picking it up, but when the movie came out and the price dropped to $9.99 I decided to pick it up not even sure what to expect. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. The narrative of interviewing participants in the war was a little tough to follow at the beginning, but once you got used to the fact that this was a story of the war and not the people I came to really appreciate this form of story telling.
It was one of those books I was anxious to read and was sorry to see end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Different style, but quite a unique perspective Aug. 9 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I fully admit to my bias as I am a huge fan of zombies. It was destined to be a winner for me from the start. It actually is a collection of short stories, various perspectives throughout the world. It is not a typical horror story (though certainly some of the storytellers have had their share of scares.) I really have to admire how many of the stories were unique yet were held together by a cohesive world. One that the author did an excellent job detailing, as it unravels for the reader from Patient Zero to Victory Day.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The stories are very engaging Sept. 1 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent set of stories. Much better than the movie. The movie is good, but shouldn't have been called the same as the book, but I understand it's a marketing thing.

The stories are very engaging. Highly recommend this book.

Good job Mr. Max Brooks.
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4.0 out of 5 stars movie and book June 23 2014
Never have I seen a movie that is so totally different from the book that I can't see one similarity but luckily both were great. Movie worth watching. Book worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Liked the book June 4 2014
By M. N.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Read it many years ago and was really let down by the movie. Seriously, what happened to all the different characters?
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5.0 out of 5 stars NOT a traditional novel Oct. 29 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Even though I'm not a fan of zombie fiction, I absolutely loved this book, perhaps exactly because it's not an average zombie fiction. There is no group of survivors from diverse backgrounds holding together in some secure hiding place, not here. World War Z is a meta look at zombie apocalypse, a look from the global perspective. How it started. How people around the world reacted to it, how it spread, how it was contained and ultimately eradicated. Instead of going in depth into experiences of one particular group, World War Z covers dozens of different perspectives and events. It's more like a history book than a novel, and it was a huge pleasure, as a history buff, to look at zombie outbreak from global perspective.

If you are a fan of traditional kind of a zombie story, or if you liked the movie, I DO NOT recommend this book for you. But it is a very original, well-researched and ultimately very satisfying read, and I definitely recommend it overall.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting
Completely different from the movie. Interesting to put it together like a series of interviews/short stories like that. Well done.
Published 1 month ago by Trevor
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
VERY well written. I really enjoyed reading the stories told through different characters. Can't wait to see the movie. Highly recommend it.
Published 1 month ago by Violet
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Very good, Good condition. Do it Do it Do it i dont have anything else to say do it do it
Published 10 months ago by Xavier Charest-Morin
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the movie
How many times have I said a book is better than the movie? Almost always.

This is not your traditional zombie story, but an anthology of the experiences of survivors... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Ron White
1.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea
I admit it... I purchased this book due to the hype behind the movie and was very disappointed. It's not what I expected in the least with it being more of a compiled report from... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Chris Lahay
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie!!!
I Wanted to read this before the movie was released. Like most times, The book is better than the movie!!!
Published 11 months ago by irishkeiran
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read!
Bought this book a couple of years ago before the movie was produced. It's definitely better than the movie.
And plus I got the book on sale from Amazon! Read more
Published 12 months ago by Lina Mae
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this a lot - slightly formulaic in places
Enjoyed this a lot. The plot drew me in and the slow creeping nature of it all combined with fact paced individual elements were good. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Henry Armitage
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