World War Z, By Max Brooks


Brooks, M. (2006). World war z: An oral history of the zombie war. New York: Crown.

Paperback $14.95, Kindle $9.83, 342 pages

ISBN: 9780307346612

Author’s Website and Interviews:

Online Reviews:

Annotation: It has been a decade since the zombie war almost decimated mankind now tales of survival serve as warnings for future generations.

Summary: The stories narrator, a United Nations Postwar Commissions agent, recounts interviews from war survivors from around the world. The identity of patient zero is revealed to have been a young Chinese boy whose infection spread rapidly due to an illegal organ trade. This is the first documented case and creates public exposure. As the disease rapidly spread globally, it ushers in the onset of what is called the “Great Panic.” After numerous attempts at defeating the zombies fail, Paul Redeker, an intelligence consultant, comes up with the idea to create various sanctuaries which house survivors in order to lure the zombies to them which leaves the rest of the area free to reorganize and strategize ways to eradicate them. This becomes a global plan. With a renewed sense of survival and success, the U.S. government organizes their forces in the Rockies with newer high tech weaponry designed to kill zombies more effectively.

Evaluation: I had a really hard time getting through this book. Although the writing was extremely descriptive I found it rather dry. The interviews from individuals around the world were very similar and I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over. I think I couldn’t connect to the book because their was no protagonist to relate to or champion for. There were no climactic events as the overall plot of the storyline is outlined within the first few pages. It is a mere retelling of events from the zombie war and serves as more of a warning text for future generations. On a positive note, I thought the writing style itself was good, extremely descriptive and left a chilling picture of the aftermath of the war. I generally tend to shy away from books that depict scenes in a graphic and gory nature but I found it was necessary for this book to understand the gravity of the war. Although Brooks does a great job of detailing how the war impacted government and the military, the story did not have enough excitement to hold my interest and I found myself only able to read a few pages at a time.

Genre: Horror (Apocalyptic)

Appeal Factors: Very descriptive writing which creates a very realistic tone for the book. The book presents a human factor which makes the war seem plausible and the stories of loss more devastating. Plot-driven, fast-paced, and graphic.

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

The Zombie Autopsies by Steven Schlozman

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Beyond Exile by J. L. Bourne

Dying to Live by Kim Paffenroth

Thunder and Ashes by Z. A. Recht


New York Times Bestseller

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Gore and horror: Focus on a passage that depicts the war in graphic detail. This will help get the reader’s imagination going and instill a little fear in them.
  • If/then scenario: If the United Nations Postwar Commission has taken steps to ensure that this type of war/outbreak doesn’t happen again, then shouldn’t the world be able to rest easily knowing the problem has been eradicated. Is there fear it could happen again? If you were a Siberian solider whose comrade had just been bitten and infected, then you would have to make the difficult choice of pulling the trigger? Could you do it?

Book Discussion Questions:

1. Why do you think Max Brooks decided to tell the story from a more global point of view? What does this say about the global politics?

2. Do you notice any differences between the stories the men tell versus the stories of survival the women tell? Do you think gender factors heavily into the storyline?

3. Does the use of multiple character perspectives about one event complicate the story or make it easier to understand since you are getting a global perspective of what happened?

4. Did Brook’s writing style convince you that a zombie apocalypse was plausible? Provide examples.

5. Do you think the various government agencies referenced in the book did enough for the war effort? Did it vary from country to country?

6. How did the war impact religion around the world?

I have always been a fan of books about zombies, vampires, and other supernatural creatures. After seeing the movie version of this book, I felt like I had to read it in order to compare how closely the movie mirrored the book. I was initially drawn to the book because it recounts survival stories from around the world so I thought it would give me a more comprehensive picture of the war’s devastation and the aftermath that followed. I love a good scare and was interested to see how much gore and horror I could handle. With the inundation of television shows and movies about zombies and zombie apocalypses, this book was just another way to get my zombie fill and help fill in any mission pieces the movie didn’t include.