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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
World War Z An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks
Brooks, the author of the determinedly straight-faced parody The Zombie Survival Guide (2003), returns in all seriousness to the zombie theme for his second outing, a future history in the style of Theodore Judson's Fitzpatrick's War. Brooks tells the story of the world's desperate battle against the zombie threat with a series of first-person a...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780307346612
ISBN-10: 0307346617
Publication Date: 10/16/2007
Pages: 352
Rating:
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 390

4.2 stars, based on 390 ratings
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

GeniusJen avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 18
Although WORLD WAR Z is, without a doubt, fiction, it's also so much more than that. You can call it a satire; what you can't call it is a totally made up story that could never happen in the real world.

Told in an interview style, WORLD WAR Z is the story of the Zombie War that nearly decimated Earth. From the Great Panic to VA Day, every possible voice is heard from--politicians, soldiers, divers, dissidents, deserters, and the everyday, average Joe who found himself fighting for his life and way of existence in the face of the undead.

Max Brooks has a very unique writing style, a very loud "voice" that draws you into his story from page one and never lets go. Although there's never been an actual war against an insurgent tide of undead, there have been plenty of wars and squirmishes throughout history that the author had to draw from. From the Vietnam and Korean wars, from World War I & II and the fight against Hitler, from Desert Storm to the current fight against terrorism in Iraq, Mr. Brooks has managed to pull the best--and worst--from everyone involved and use it in his fictional account.

There's no doubt that WORLD WAR Z is an amazing, addictive, wonderful read. It's also emotional, disturbing, and thought-provoking. Although I may not worry, per se, about an upcoming fight against zombies, I do worry about the world that my children, and future grandchildren, will be left to inhabit after I'm gone. In that respect, this story is frightening. It's scary to think that the world, whether it be the mighty democracy of the United States or the iron fist of Russia or China, would not be prepared to defend themselves against a global attack from something outside of their human enemies.

Kudos to Mr. Brooks for such a great read. Fiction or satire, pure speculation or hard fact, WORLD WAR Z is one book you don't want to miss.
althea avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 774 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
By now, I'm sure all zombie fans, and most people, have heard of this book. With an acknowledged debt to Romero, Brooks sets up a scenario familiar to zombie fans: the zombie apocalypse has occurred. The living dead spread over the entire planet, and although humanity is now ascendant, and recovering from the plague, life is not as we knew it, after long, hard battles worldwide. In order to give an historical perspective on what has come to be known as "World War Z," the author presents a series of interviews between himself and survivors of this war from around the globe.
I had a few doubts, at first, about this non-traditional format for a novel, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well Brooks made it work. It was consistently absorbing and exciting, and the many varied characters were all believably realized. As the best zombie stories usually are, the book's focus is really on social commentary. In portraying how each country, or various individuals, respond to the zombie threat (from altruism or bravery to cowardice, ill-planning, or just the opportunity to make a quick buck), Brook really gives an overview of world politics and current events.
I've heard that the book has been optioned for a movie (not surprising, I suppose, since Max is Mel Brooks' son), but I don't really see how it would work as a film. However, I would highly recommend this book.
sevenspiders avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 73 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
Max Brooks' World War Z turns zombie-lore on its bloody, severed head and presents it in a brand new way. Humanity has already won the war on Zombie when the book begins, the struggle for survival has been triumphant. But Brooks is out to tally the physical and spiritual losses humanity endured by interviewing survivors from every continent.

The voices of these survivors, from Cuba, China, America, South Africa, Britian, Canada are real, believable and unique. They are civilians, soldiers, politicians, and doctors. With amazing detail, the humanity of the stories shines through even the bleakest experiences.

Ultimately, Brooks succeeds in more than writing a good story; he creates a world, a world of his own vision that mirrors our own in all its horror and glory.
Leigh avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 377 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
An entertaining, thoughtful, well-researched collection of interviews about a fictional war with the undead. The author clearly put a lot of thought into this, as cultural, economic, and historical references were considered when examining the scope of the zombie attack on civilization, how each nation fought it, and how eventually, humans overcame the threat. Excellent, quick read with much to say about humanity.
reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I could not put this book down! I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre, and it is hard for writers/film makers to add something new. This book examines how the zombie invasion affected different cultures around the world, and how each group of people or characters had to overcome the attack. It is cleverly written as an oral narrative through many different characters who you instantly like and cheer for. The book reveals many political subtexts in the overall context of the story - Cubans taking in American refugees, how Communist China and the North Koreans respond, to name a few. It is definitely a refreshing take on the zombie genre.

Apparently the rights to this book has been bought by a Hollywood production company and will be made into a movie!
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c-squared avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 181 more book reviews
I don't usually read zombie books, or even horror novels in general, but this one sounded different enough to interest me.

The premise of this novel, written as if it's nonfiction, is that roughly 20 years ago, a disease broke out (probably originating in China) that, after the victim has died, reanimates said victim as a bloodless, flesh-eater who can only be stopped by destroying its brain. This enemy became known as zombies or ghouls (shortened in military speak to Zack or Gs). The world war that broke out between the zombies and the living lasted roughly 10 years, and now another 10 or so years have passed. The author has traveled around the world, interviewing survivors from various countries, backgrounds, and roles, all of whom offer different perspectives of the war. His original purpose was to create the "United Nations Postwar Commission Report," but distilling all the interviews into black-and-white facts didn't feel right to him, so he put together this book as a supplement.

My husband keeps saying that it's only a matter of time before Nature takes care of the overpopulation problem, be it some type of super flu or whatever. Obviously, a zombie outbreak seems unlikely, but otherwise, this book hypothesizes what that type of catastrophic event could look like, in chilling, fascinating detail.

Edit:
Second reading (for book club): March 11-18, 2013
I still really enjoyed this book the second time around, but trying to see it through the eyes of my book group members, Brooks includes a fair amount of gore (really not anything compared to the average zombie book, though...at least what I'm guessing the average zombie book contains since I don't usually read that genre) and a lot of f-bombs and their various little friends. Unless you've been strong-armed into reading this book by members of your book group (another woman actually suggested it, I just seconded), you're probably prepared for these two elements.
ProstheticLips avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 25 more book reviews
As others have said, this book is more of a series of interviews with survivors, and their different accounts of events as they unfolded. The same characters only appear like once to twice; in general, the fictional interviewer meets with each one, gets their story, and records the relevant details.

I really enjoyed this; it is COMPLETELY different from the movie, since a movie has a hard time representing this same format, but the movie starts earlier. In the book, the apocalypse has already happened, and we are hearing stories of the survivors (where the movie starts as people are hearing about the outbreak).

I definitely enjoyed the interview format, and since I sometimes just read at lunch, it was easy to get to a stopping point, as the interview stories are usually pretty short.
reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 5 more book reviews
It started off slow until I realized how this was building up to all the different people who had "dealt" with the war in their own specific ways. From soldiers, to doctors, to refugees, to your everyday joe...definitely a good read! So not like how people say the movie is (haven't seen it). Definitely kept my attention after the first chapter.
reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 1009 more book reviews
I am not a reader of horror, but I thought this was very well done. The realism made it even creepier for me. Rather than a traditional novel format, it's a series of interviews between the UN report writer and those who were somehow involved in the zombie war - military, mercenary, smugglers, leaders and regular citizens. It's a pretty amazing thought experiment - which countries would use the nuclear option, what would happen to the astronauts in space, who gets sacrificed, what weapons are most effective, how do the governments of countries reform in the aftermath...
jumarob avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 7 more book reviews
Anyone who likes the Walking Dead series will like this book. It focuses on the human aspect of a world wide plague. I had a hard time putting the book down because I wanted to see what the next country came up with to deal with the problem of a never ending tide of zombies crashing against their walls and inevitably rising up within them. I can't wait for the movie!
abaisse avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 21 more book reviews
The title says it all: this is an ORAL history of the zombie war. The book is composed of many short "chapters," each of which is supposed to be a direct transcription of a recorded interview with a survivor. There are two problems with this format. First, it makes the book somewhat difficult to follow. The interviews tell a story that is essentially in chronological order, but they jump from Canada to China to India to Cuba, from a battle to a government meeting to a group of survivors camped in the woods. Add to this the fact that most of them are very short - only a few pages - and it's very easy to get lost when you put the book down for awhile.

Second, while the prose is excellent, it is exactly that - prose. We do not speak in the same way that we write, and these interviews do not read like someone talking, they read like someone writing. If you read them aloud, they do not sound like natural conversation, which is what they are supposed to be. As I read the book, I tried to imagine myself giving the interview and listening as the interviewee spoke, but Brooks's prose kept getting in the way.

Overall, the story was exciting, interesting, and engaging, and clearly Brooks did a great deal of research to make it as accurate and believable as possible. The format is unique - you must give him credit for that - but I can't help but think that I would have enjoyed the book more if it had been written as a straight novel.
stormchaserblue avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 43 more book reviews
The premise of this bestselling book is that we have survived the zombie apocalypse, but are still haunted by what happened when the dead began to rise. This book is a compilation of the stories of several survivors. The tales of how it began, the great panic, when we stopped ignoring what was right in front of our faces, and tells what happened around the world, and above it, to average people who rose to deal with the challenge of dealing with the living dead. The personal accounts describe the changing religious, geo-political, and environmental aftermath of the Zombie War.
Max Brooks is also the author of The Zombie Survival guide that gives the reader complete instructions on how to deal with the living dead. Survivalists and disaster preparedness are themes throughout the novel. Several interviews in the novel, especially those set in the United States, focus on fictional policy changes to train the surviving Americans to rebuild the country and fight the zombies.
The book was bought in 2007 and was supposed to start filming in 2009 but there have been delays. I will defiantly watch this in the theaters if its finished before the next zombie uprising.
babyjulie avatar reviewed World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War on + 336 more book reviews
I don't have the words to review this. I already know I wouldn't do the book or the author justice so I'm going to leave it alone.
I will say that this man is brilliant. This, IMO, can be read by just about anyone... and loved. I never thought for a second I'd fall for it like I did.
He's a master at a what he does. That's no exaggeration - he's truly a master.

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