World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

I thought I’d write my first post here about the book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks. I only recently read World War Z, but it was originally published in 2006. Before I get started talking about the book itself, I’d like to mention a couple of things about how I read books. (This is my first post, after all.)

World War Z

I like to read hardcover editions of books. I’ll read paperbacks if I have to, but for me, a real book has a hard cover and a certain amount of weight. Mass market paperbacks (the kind you buy in the airport) have print that’s almost too small to read, and trade paperbacks vary pretty widely in construction. It’s the hardcover books that I like to hold in my hand and read. And don’t even get me started on the Kindle or the Nook or any of those related projects. I’ve got no interest in reading books on such a device. I spend enough time in front of a computer when I’m working.

Anyway, back to World War Z. If you haven’t read it and don’t know anything about it, World War Z is a post-apocalyptic novel about a zombie apocalypse. Although it’s not really a novel at all; it’s actually a collection of short stories written in a style very similar to that of Studs Terkel. If you don’t know who he was, Studs Terkel is famous for writing books based on oral histories of Americans. In other words, he’d interview people who’d lived during certain historical events and times, and then he would publish those interviews in a book. Working and The Good War are probably his two most famous books.

Anyway, the narrator of World War Z is a Studs Terkel type who is interviewing people who lived through the zombie apocalypse. The stories come from everywhere in the world, including China, South Africa, Israel, and the United States, among others. Some stories describe what went on in the halls of power during the zombie war. Others describe what ordinary people went through during the zombie war. And some chapters describe some of the battles from the perspective of the soldiers who participated in those battles.

Zombie movies have traditionally been used as metaphors for other societal problems. This goes back as far as George Romero’s original zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead. World War Z participates in this tradition, with sly commentary about survivalists, the rich, and the government. The characters in the book seem authentic, and the prose is well-written. World War Z is a fine novel that I enjoyed very much, and I look forward to seeing the movie when it comes out.


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