Wednesday, 28 August 2013

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

Hardcover, 342 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Crown (first published 2006)
ISBN 0307346609 (ISBN13: 9780307346605)

A really long blurb:
"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."

This is a brilliant book, whether or not you are interested in zombie stories. It was really interesting to read it as a social, political and economic assessment of what could happen if there was another world war, particularly when there was an interview with a character about North Korea's reaction to the war. It really made me think about what would happen to the world if suddenly society as we know it broke down and we were forced to survive by ourselves again. In particular, there is a section about America having to retrain the majority of its population as so many people are in service focused jobs which are useless in terms of living off the land.

The stories were sad, engaging, sometimes tense and often thought-provoking. Occasionally I'd find myself tapping my feet, willing them to run faster! However, often I wanted to know more about what happened during the rest of their fight against the zombies as the characters stories would focus on specific incidents but left me wanting more at times.

I really enjoyed this book but often wanted to know more about the characters and sometimes found it hard to keep track of where the character was and remember their back-story. Especially as at the end some of the characters were revisited but a couple I didn't remember at all until I searched back through the book. Thanks to Josh for lending it to me :)

8 out of 10

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