January 20, 2008

World War Z

I just finished a fabulous book--World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. Now I'm not particularly into zombies and probably never would have picked up this book if it weren't for the ringing endorsement of one of my all-time favorite writers, David Sedaris. Kevin and I went to see Sedaris at a reading in Riverside and at every tour he does, he recommends a book. An early book steered us wrong, so I didn't dive immediately into World War Z (that and I'm not so much into zombies), but did get it very recently on whim. Boy am I glad I did.

World War Z is, as the title says, an oral history of the Zombie war. Set in the near future, 10 years after the Zombie war (so probably 15 years from now or so), World War Z is a collection of short blurbs from different people involved in the Zombie war. And since the zombies rose from the dead (apparently due to a virus) and nearly took over the entire world, that would be just about everyone. Most of the interviews/oral histories in the book are from people in the military or the government (or both) but there are some civilian witnesses who themselves are quite fascinating.

World War Z was published after an important book, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, which was also highly recommended by David Sedaris. I have not read the Zombie Survival Guide yet (rest assured it's next on the list) but I did pick up some important tips from World War Z. And since I'm not into zombies, there were a lot of things I didn't know before. For example:

-The only way to kill a zombie is to destroy its brain
-Once you are bitten by a zombie, you are infected and can expect to reanimate following your death
-Zombies are not smart and cannot use tools
-Zombies want to eat you
-Zombies congregate to noise, much like sharks to blood
-Zombies freeze in the winter but reanimate upon thawing
-Zombies survive underwater, so swimming is not a good idea

And so on and so forth. I am sure the Survival Guide goes into all of these and more in great detail, so I expect to be fully prepared soon.

World War Z chronicles the advances of the military as they battled the zombies and spends a great deal of time on the psychological impact of the Zombie war. He also covers the aftermath and what happened to surviving coutries (some who very gently nuked eachother, some who became completely religious states, some who resorted to public stocks and whipping on town squares for discipline). And somewhere along the way, Brooks makes a statement about our current political and military situation.

It wasn't until further reading that I learned that Max Brooks is actually the son of filmmaker Mel Brooks, who has produced some of the funniest movies ever. It's clear where he got his sense of humor from.

World War Z is kind of a combination of Stephen King's The Stand and Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Much like David Sedaris, I highly recommend World War Z.

Posted by Shelby at January 20, 2008 04:52 PM

excellent! I can look this up on my goodreads profile. Speaking of which, our local NPR station is doing their pledge drive and offered a gift of a yearlong subscription to the New York Review of Books. A single visit to that website made me feel oh so literary and made me want to read all day.

Posted by: Anita at January 25, 2008 12:50 AM
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