Apocalypse Week: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Zombies, Zombies Everywhere

It goes by many names: “The Crisis,” “The Dark Years,” “The WalkingPlague,” as well as newer and more “hip” titles such as “World War Z” or “Z War One.” I personally dislike this last moniker as it implies an inevitable “Z War Two.” For me, it will always be “The Zombie War,” and while many may protest the scientific accuracy of the word zombie, they will be hard-pressed to discover a more globally accepted term for the creatures that almost caused our extinction. Zombie remains a devastating word, unrivaled in its power to conjure up so many memories or emotions, and it is these memories, and emotions, that are the subject of this book.

This record of the greatest conflict in human history owes its genesis to a much smaller, much more personal conflict between me and the chairperson of the United Nation’s Postwar Commission Report. My initialwork for the Commission could be described as nothing short of a labor of love. My travel stipend, my security access, my battery of translators, both human and electronic, as well as my small, but nearly priceless voice-activated transcription “pal” (the greatest gift the world’s slowest typist could ask for), all spoke to the respect and value my work was afforded on this project. So, needless to say, it came as a shock when I found almost half of that work deleted from the report’s final edition. …

World War Z (WWZ) is the book that began the zombie invasion of publishing. You may thank or curse Max Brooks, depending on your feeling about the genre. Actually, WWZ is the follow-up to Brooks’ 2003 book, The Zombie Survival Guide. Where that book was a twist on more practical manuals, however, WWZ is a much more serious novel than one might expect.

In this “future history” a reporter travels the world to interview key individuals who fought in the zombie wars after a virus surfaces that sweeps over populations in an epidemic, leaving huge numbers of zombies roaming the earth. The clever premise provides much food for thought about how individuals and governments respond to unexpected emergencies … or fail to respond. Brooks uses this vehicle not only to tell an excellent story but to skewer both governmental policies and lambast the powerful who take advantage of any situation for their own gain. This is a real page turner that resulted in many late nights as I watched civilization collapse and wondered what was found that allowed victory over the zombie hordes.

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