2007: #96 – World War Z (Max Brooks)

Book #96 was World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. The back of the book reads:

“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

I listened to the audio version of this, and I think it was the perfect format for a book subtitled as an “oral history”. It was performed by a full cast, including Alan Alda, Rob Reiner, Henry Rollins, John Tuturro, Mark Hamill, and Max Brooks himself. While a few stories just seemed to provide information, others were riveting, especially those of Todd Wainio (a U.S. Army infantryman), Christina Eliopolis (an air force pilot), T. Sean Collins (a mercenary), and Jessika Hendricks (whose family flees to Canada because hey! Zombies freeze!).

Brooks has created a very thorough “what-if” scenario here, that not only deals with the effects in the U.S. but with what happens worldwide. The audio version is abridged and there’s just enough detail of the story left out that I’ll probably read the hard copy as well.

Page count: 352 | Word count: ?

2006 – When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Lawrence Block)

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