November 30, 2006

World War Z

There are no spoilers in this post.

If you read one book on zombies before the end of the year, make it World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks.

For those of us who were "lucky" enough to live through the Great Panic, that crisis and the war that followed may seem like a blur now. So much was going on all over the world as each country tried to deal with the walking dead and the destruction they left in their wake. You can thank Mr. Brooks for his efforts in traveling the globe getting interviews from some of the people who made a difference, some of the people who did whatever it took to survive.

That's the premise of World War Z. Max was assigned the task of gathering information for a dry report about the Great Panic, but he had accumulated so much more personal material from his investigations that he was compelled to compile it into a book.

It's told in a series of interviews that begin by describing how the world first reacted to the discovery that something really screwy was happening to the natural order of things. This made the book very easy to digest, although there are so many differing characters in the interviews that the author himself comes through more than distinguishing personalities in the interviews. It didn't get in the way of enjoying the book much, but it did strain the illusion. But in this format you don't expect too much character development.

The effort Brooks put into answering the big "What If?" question is most impressive. How would the world react? How would the "disease" spread? He comes up with unexpected and realistic details that lend real credibility to the book. As the interviews continue, the effort acquires the feeling of some bizarre government simulation that was conceived by geopolitical, epidemiological and military experts.

Even if we never face a zombie infestation, Max Brooks is telling us something about the global connections that we can't escape, the fragile nature of our societies, and the drive within us to shake off defeat and rebuild. A zombie infestation is more exciting than the bird flu, but I suppose you never really know what surprises nature has in store for us.

Patti recommended this book to me, and I'm glad she did. I really had trouble putting it down.
Posted by James at November 30, 2006 12:18 AM
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Nice book report!

As I mentioned to you, while I was reading this book, I found myself shaking my head and saying, "The government didn't anticipate that?", after which I had to remind myself this is a work of fiction. This book really and truly reads like the oral history it is purported to be.

I want to thank Mr. Brooks for writing such a good book that many nights, I read until my eyes became dry and ouchy. Thank goodness for my Refresh Plus eye drops!

Posted by: Patti M. at November 30, 2006 8:37 AM

If anyone wants a free copy of the book I have 3 in my office from the publisher ... just send me your info to

Posted by: Keri at November 30, 2006 9:04 AM

That sounds awesome. I would like to read it.

Posted by: Julie at November 30, 2006 8:54 PM

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