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A classic piece of horror and apocalyptic writing
I was one of many who heard about Max Brooks' satirical guide book The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. Being a huge fan of George A. Romero's Dead series of films and just the zombie subgenre in general, I was intrigued by the release of this guidebook. From the first page to the last I was impressed, entertained, and hooked on Brooks' serio-comic take on how to survive a zombie outbreak. One section of the book which really caught my interest and has remained a favorite to reread over and over was the final one which details the so-called "historical" instances of past zombie outbreaks throughout history. From as far back as Ancient Egypt and Rome up to the late 1990's. My only gripe about that section of the book was that it was all-too-brief. I felt that it could've been made longer and even would've made for a fine book on its own. Maybe I wasn't the only one to have wished for such a thing to happen for it seems that Brooks himself might have...
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What an amazing book!
Like several other reviewers, I read and enjoyed Max Brooks' 'Zombie Survival Guide', but I was skeptical as to whether he could strike gold twice in a row. Much to my satisfaction, the answer was yes.World War Z isn't so much a novel as it is a collection of very personal recollections of people who have lived through - literally - hell on earth. In a way, it reminded me of news footage of these walls you see where, during a civil war, or natural disaster, people go and leave notes for loved ones, hoping someone, anyone, will see them. Every time I see something like that, it strikes me as hopeless and desperate, but at the same time noble and uplifting. In short, what makes us human. This book gave me the same reaction. I preordered it from Amazon, received it this morning, and finished it about an hour ago. I wish I'd rationed it out a bit, because I didn't want that feeling to end - the feeling of reading the accounts of some of the bravest souls who (n)ever...
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“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War
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
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Where Were You When the Zombies Attacked?
I understand why so many people loved this book, but it didn't entirely work for me. The central conceit - that the book is a series of interviews with key survivors of the Zombie Wars - is good, but it makes for a very episodic read.In it's effect, the book is more like a collection of short stories than a single coherent narrative. Yes, all the interviews are telling the same "story," but the characters and settings never overlap - you get scores of unrelated narrators sharing their own tales of horror.Thus, there's no build up of suspense or tension over the three-hundred plus pages of this book. Each "short story" has its own dramatic arc. Some work better than others. But, with rare exception, you could delete any one of the chapters in this book without affecting the others, or, conversely, you could add twenty more chapters without changing the outcome. A lot if it is interesting, but it all feels kind of arbitrary.Lastly, without continuing...
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