December 31, 2012

Review: "World War Z" By Max Brooks

I didn't include this book in my list of favorite reads in my "2012--My Year In Review" list that I posted, but I probably should have.  It must be something about the time and age that we live in that the zombie apocalypse has become something of a cult phenomenon--witness all of the zombie books being published and read, and AMC's remarkably popular TV series "The Walking Dead"--and I must confess that I am a 'card-carrying' member of the zombie cult too (which, on its face, is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I've said in months ;-).  Anyway, World War Z was a morbidly fascinating and well-written fictional account that purports to provide an 'oral history' of the efforts of the world's living to contain and eradicate the world's undead.  Max Brooks (Mel Brooks' son) wrote this book as a collection of interviews among the survivors of the horrific war against the zombies, and certainly pays an extraordinary amount of homage to the late Studs Terkel. 

As crazy as it sounds, this was an easy and entertaining book to read, largely because of Brooks' organization of the novel.  It starts with a chapter describing the initial outbreak and spread of the virus that leads to the 'zombification' of billions of humans across the entire globe.  The remaining chapters include the personal accounts of the survivors as they try and combat the horror of the mounting threat of the zombie hordes, and then the formulation and implementation of a global strategy to reclaim the planet from the undead hoards. 

Personally, I liked the use of the personal interview and vignettes of story-telling rather than focusing on a first- or second-person accounting of this horrific tale.  And while the notion of zombies taking over the world may seem a bit far-fetched (I hope?), there was plenty of 'food-for-thought' about the way governments and individuals might react if there were global threats associated with nuclear or biological terrorism, or even the short- and long-term effects associated with global climate change.  The human propensity for inhumanity to other humans is well known, and is maybe even more terrifying than that of the zombies described in Brooks' World War Z.  I'll be interested to see how the upcoming blockbuster movie starring Brad Pitt handles the material in the book when it is released during summer 2013.  World War Z, the book, gets four out of a possible five stars from me.



  1. This book surprised me with how good it was. I've read it twice and I'm itching to read it again. I agree that the structure works so well for the story, better than a single perspective would. I'm tentatively optimistic for the movie

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