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When Zombies Attack, Be Prepared - Read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks -Book Review

Updated on October 20, 2016

A Book Review of World War Z explaining how to survive the Zombie Wars

In World War Z: An Oral History of Zombie War, author Max Books does not let us take zombie attacks as lightly as when he wrote The Zombie Survival Guide. The Zombie Survival Guide was written somewhat tongue in cheek, on the premise of helping the unsuspecting public survive when zombies attack or, to put it another way, survive a zombie pandemic. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars takes us into the lives of the survivors of the global spread of a peculiar virus that results in the Zombie Pandemic - the proliferation of zombie attacks some time in the future, all but annihilating humans.

Add the recent news of flesh eating people and you begin to wonder if a Zombie Pandemic could be a plausible end to our society, especially when you examine the detailed storyline of the zombie attacks on the population in World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. Chilling!

The story is a fictional telling of what happens to individuals, communities and governments when zombie attacks. The interviewer is a UN observer/reporter who travels the globe after the pandemic has begun to wane. He interviews those few humans who survived the cataclysmic events that appear to begin in China. The interviews are skillfully crafted, making the zombie pandemic and the emotions of the survivors very real. Because of the way Max Brooks has written World War Z, if it happens as he imagined, the spread of the virus and the resulting zombies would make the threat of a Bird Flu epidemic seem like a cold.

In the book, author Max Brooks' survivors horrifyingly portray the zombies as mindless masses of human flesh, in various states of decay, their only intent: to eat any and every living thing they can find. To the interviewees in Mr. Brooks' book, the zombies exhibit herd mentality, but show no collective or cooperative thinking. The zombie's only instinct is to eat. One even wonders why they eat. There is certainly no cell rejuvenation; they continue to deteriorate to the point that they are almost unrecognizable as ever having been human.

When zombies attack humans, zombies exhibit no fight or flight response to danger. If there is danger as percieved by the men and women who survived the pandemic, they report that the zombies show no recognition of it. Zombies exhibit no desire to preserve or perpetuate the zombies as a species. It's "every zombie for itself."

To the victims turned survivors of the global event, the zombies are a relentless, disgusting, gruesome mass of "walking," moaning flesh that only vaguely resembled the human being they once were.

Civilians turned activists, turned warriors and, finally, turned survivors find very little that actually destroys a zombie. However, in most cases, it is the government inaction of each country that is civilization's initial undoing, that causes the loss of so much life and the proliferation of so many zombies. Mr. Brooks demonstrates so well how the lack of imagination and innovation of a government here, the secretiveness of a government there, throw in the manipulation along with the world population's almost collective willingness to believe without question and you have the recipe for a successful zombie pandemic and ensuing zombie war - zombies the victors and humans the losers.

There have been zombie books and even zombie movies for years. I have not necessarily been fan, always finding them more comical than anything. However, Mr. Brooks successfully removes the comedy in World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and leaves us wondering what would really happen if there was a zombie apocalypse. How fast would the systems disintegrate, how ineffectual conventional thinking would become when zombies attack? How well could the world survive the breakdown of every safeguard? There are no real zombie weapons. Why should there be? Until now, there have been no zombie attacks. The weapons must be invented, but only after the admission that the zombies do exist and that current weapons and warfare don't destroy them.

Scene from Night of the Living Dead, one of the few zombie movies that doesn't disintegrate into comedy.
Scene from Night of the Living Dead, one of the few zombie movies that doesn't disintegrate into comedy. | Source

When Zombies Attack, Will You Survive?

The survivors in World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War are incredibly real as we read their interviews and learn their story of survival. The hero interviewer could have been speaking to any one of us who may have the stamina, ingenuity, and most of all, the luck to survive. The survivors lose everything, but still continue. Their tales are chillingly real. You care about what has happened to most of them and wonder what would happen to you.

Not surprisingly, World War Z: An Oral History has been scripted for a movie, originally due out in 2012, coinciding with the Mayan date of what some believe will be the apocalypse. However, the release date has apparently been changed to summer 2013. The hero, the UN reporter is portrayed by Brad Pit. I look forward to a movie in which the zombies will be as chilling and ominous on the screen as they were in the book. Reports have all pointed to a very troubled set, with director and star at odds and numerous rewrites. I hope that the integrity of the book remains.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War made the scenario for the zombie pandemic - zombies vs. humans - seem credible and terrifying. When Zombies attack, humans die, then humans come back, adding to the zombie population, only to go on and attack other humans. Do zombies exist now? I don't think so, but read Max Brooks' book and you may begin to think that a zombie virus could spawn real life zombies and when zombies attack, the humans had better be ready!

After you have read this book review, I think it will be worth it if you read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War...just in case.

A convincingly scary read.

copyright 2012: Cynthia Turner

Zombie vs. Vampire

Vampires are very popular today, but zombies have their fans, which do you prefer? Cast your votes.

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The movie World War Z starring Brad Pitt is now playing on cable TV regularly.


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    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      Hi LABrashear. I can sure understand not wanting to read the book since you have a similar storyline. When you have finished your manuscript, give World War Z a read especially if you are going to see the movie. I'm going. I hope that it will be entertaining and worth the wait.

      Thanks for reading...again. I'm glad it held up the second time around. Take care and let me know what you think of the move.

    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 4 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      Hi Cyndi10-

      I re-read this before I realized I had already read it...if that makes sense. It's still a great read and I am so excited about the movie coming out. I still have yet to read the book (I have a story very similar and do not want to taint my story with ideas from Brooks' story.) Great read the second time around!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Delores, good to hear you're ready. My son is, too. I'm not sure I'm there yet, :-)

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Ever since the original Night of the Living Dead, zombies have scared the dickens out of me. But I took a zombie survival quiz somewhere online some time ago, and aced it! So I am ready!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      You will enjoy this! Read it before the movie comes out later this year. Thanks for leaving a comment.

    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 5 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      Great review! Now, I want to read the book. I like the whole zombie thing. There is just something cool about a mass of rotting flesh out there doing it's own thing. :) Loved this.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      I am anxious to see what the new movie will be like. As you can see, I liked the book and I hope the book doesn't lose the horror that comes through in the book. I appreciate you taking a look at the review.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ....believe me there are some zombies wandering around here at the Hub - lol lol - my favorite zombie film/allegory is still George Romero's Dawn of the Dead so naturally I appreciate the theme and the words behind this most awesome hub presentation.

      lake erie time ontario canada 7:29pm

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Prasetio, Thank you very much for reading my hub. I am even happier that it was one you enjoyed!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      You have done this very well. I love this hub. Thanks for writing and share with us. Rated up!


    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Hello Jeff, thank you for reading the review. There are many "consumers" around the globe. It is unfortunate that the massive consumption can be so mindless, like our Zombies.

      I am happy to read your hubs, especially The Beast of Yucca Flats.

    • moiragallaga profile image

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Very good hub Cyndi10, well written and interesting to read. Nice choice of topic too. Max Brooks' approach to the genre is pretty good. My fascination with the post-apocalyptic environment which zombie movies and literature usually occur in lies more in how it happens, what caused it and how do survivors deal with the situation.

    • Jeff Hileman profile image

      Jeff Hileman 5 years ago

      Hi enjoyed this Hub too. I think the analogy is the globalist view, that we citizens are useless eaters. consuming the resources,they see as belonging to themselves as having blood right ownership.

      If you go to my profile, Please read MSTK3000 The Beast Of Yucca Flats. Also hope you find something interesting and that you will enjoy at my profile. Happy new year.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Hello Cynthia, I never thought of the analogy, but you may be onto something with our Western obsession with excessive consumerism. That couldn't have been a good dream if it was about Zombies, though they do seem to gaining in popularity. Have a Happy, Creative New Year!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Hello Profit, I'm so glad that you liked the article. It is supposed to be for entertainment, although who can ever really be sure? :-)

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      I had a very strange dream about zombies the other night, so this is a timely hub for me to read! Zombie's seem to be overtaking vampires in popularity, with so many books and films, so the concept must be touching something deep in our psyche's. Maybe its because their voracious, but ultimately pointless eating mirrors the relentless consumerism of our western society? People always buying more stuff, but never being satisfied and being turned into a sort of 'zombie' by mindlessly staying on the merry-go-round?

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading the review.

    • Sean Robert profile image

      Sean Robert 6 years ago from Menomonie, WI

      I thoroughly enjoyed this!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for your comment, Frank. Hopefully, World War Z as a movie will as good as if not better than Night of the Living Dead.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 6 years ago from Shelton

      Cyndi10 this was so entertaining :)