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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Max Brooks , Various
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 16 2007
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE 

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


From the Hardcover edition.

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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War + The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In the wake of the great zombie war, Brooks's fictional alter ego travels around the world to ask tough questions of individuals and leaders about their experience and actions before, during and after the undead menace decimated the human population. Brooks remarkably identifies and articulates the nuances and unconsidered realities of what a zombie war would look like. This intriguing "oral history" stands apart from his previous zombie-related book, The Zombie Survival Guide, as Brooks uses the postwar culture here to provide political and social commentary on a wide range of real-life individuals and institutions. An all-star cast including Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Jürgen Prochnow, Henry Rollins, John Turturro, Rob and Carl Reiner, and many others deliver their parts with such fervor and intensity that listeners cannot help but empathize with these characters. Max Brooks acts as the interviewer, providing an inquisitive but stagnant demeanor. The abridgment keeps the story tight but struggles with the interviewer's narration during interviews. When Brooks interrupts characters to indicate that the person rolled his eyes or appeared apprehensive, his comments are often moot because the performers are already portraying such body language with their tone.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected Feb. 14 2009
Format:Paperback
This book is far better than any book about zombies has a right to be. A collection of stories, featured documentary style from the survivors of the fictional zombie affliction that nearly destroyed mankind. While the zombie war was fictional, it reads very real throughout this book. You feel as if these stories come from real survivors of a real catastrophy. Funny, clever, horrific - you get it all here. Surprisingly very very good.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
After reading and discussing this book with others, I now find there is a significant subculture surrounding Zombie lore, that I wasn't familiar with.

I bought the book sight-unseen (not a huge zombie afficionado), thinking that it would be good popcorn for a vacation; I was exceedingly surprised at what I was reading.

The zombies are there for sure, but they are really tertiary plot devices to the fantastic narrative, and the personal stories and scenarios that Brooks uses to tell the tale. Because the book is completely anecdotal, there isn't a traditional plot - yet you keep flipping page after page to see what insight (several aha! moments) and character might pop up next.

The only criticism I might have is the highly 'ordnance heavy' sections (Brooks likes his weapons I think), but even then - it is a war, and it interesting to see how traditional tools of destruction are unable to match the "Z's" tenacity.

Kudos Brooks! An excellent work, engaging and innovative. A must read for anyone that has ever wondered "if they move so slow, why don't you just run away?".

TMS
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good May 29 2008
Format:Paperback
For starters, I'm not a fan of zombie movies. However, my dad had left this book lying around one day and started to read it. It was one of those few books that grabbed my full attention from start to end. I thought it was a very good read. I do read a lot and finish most books, but this was one of those few books that I've read cover-to-cover in a while without getting bored during the process.

It is told as a report on the Zombie Wars, written in first-person accounts of the war that took place in a not so distant future. I enjoyed how the author unfolded the story, with different patches coming together and eventually creating this huge world.
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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
Format:Hardcover
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 Zombies of the Blogosphere Oct. 7 2010
By Jonathan Stover TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Oh, zombie, where is thy sting? Brooks' novel was a sensation a few years back, in part because it unfolds the story of the great Zombie war within a fictionalized oral history modelled on Studs Terkels structured oral histories of World War II, the Great Depression and other major American events. It's a clever conceit, though moving from narrator to narrator (and country to country) works against the development of suspense at points, much less horror.

More than 40 years after George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead started our never-ending fascination with zombies, the rightness of some of Romero's choices related to the wrongness of some of the choices of other zombie chroniclers only stands out more. Brooks goes with what's now become the almost cliched viral/rabies model of zombieism -- zombieism is spread by bite or by zombie body matter getting into an exposed cut or otherwise somehow getting into one's bloodstream. This probably seems like a good idea, but the number of pandemics in human history spread through these means is, roughly, zero. It's just not that effective a means of viral or bacterial propagation, which is why we don't all have rabies right now.

Romero, of course, never explained what was actually causing zombies in his first two zombie movies. More importantly, there was no 'Patient Zero' style beginning point -- one day, everyone who ever died and had enough flesh left on his or her bones to allow for mobility rose from the grave. And everyone who died after that, regardless of cause of death, would also rise from the dead. Now that's a disease vector that could overwhelm civilization!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I have seen the movie first, and found it ...
I have seen the movie first, and found it average. But that book, if only they could just have stick with it when making that movie...
Published 1 month ago by Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars The stories are very engaging
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. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lloyd Christmas
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 2 months ago by Trevor
4.0 out of 5 stars Different style, but quite a unique perspective
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. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Chris Welbourn
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 3 months ago by Violet
4.0 out of 5 stars movie and book
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.
Published 4 months ago by Spinko Rama
5.0 out of 5 stars Liked the book
Read it many years ago and was really let down by the movie. Seriously, what happened to all the different characters?
Published 4 months ago by M. N.
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 11 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 11 months ago by Ron White
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT a traditional novel
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. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Nameless
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