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World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Max Brooks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,345511317 (4.02)3 / 589
Title:World War Z
Authors:Max Brooks
Info:Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (2007), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:Sci-Fi, Horror, TBR

Work details

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (2006)

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English (498)  French (6)  Spanish (3)  Danish (2)  Italian (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (512)
Showing 1-5 of 498 (next | show all)
This was one mind-blowing, brutal and absolutely glorious zombie book! Oh My God, people, you all have to read it. Please, I beg you...

Max Brooks did one genius thing, - he made this story a documentary, literally a series of interviews with the survivors of zombie war 20 years later. When you read these interviews you think of people who tell you of their experiences, their pain, horror, guilt of leaving someone behind or killing a loved one or fighting their way out through guts and gore as real live people. They have characters, they have spark, they just spring before your eyes.

The scope of these interviews is humongous, from so many parts of the world, different ages, races, backgrounds, from mercenaries to children... Some of the interviews were even cut in half, the second half we would suddenly find at the end of the book and the emotional impact would be so much greater.

I couldn't put World War Z down, I even had a couple of very intense zombie dreams and as there was so much to absorb I was reading this book very slowly. It was one of the best zombie stories I've ever read not because it was about zombies but because it was about the resilience of human spirit.

“They say great times make great men. I don't buy it. I saw a lot of weakness, a lot of filth. People who should have risen to the challenge and either couldn't or wouldn't. Greed, fear, stupidity and hate. I saw it before the war, I see it today. [...] I don't know if great times make great men, but I know they can kill them.”

Two words, an EPIC READ. Recommended to the fans of Mira Grant. The film will come out next summer, and from what I can see they are going to absolutely ruin it. So... Go read the book! ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |

[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]


Years after a devastating zombie apocalypse almost destroyed humanity, a man tasked with creating a formal report on the “Zombie War” finds himself with a ton of personal stories and nowhere to put them. So he decides to compile them into a book that tells the history of “World War Z” from the perspectives of a number of individuals from around the world.

What follows is an organized group of interconnected and related personal tales about various experiences before, during, and after the “Zombie War.”

It begins with multiple people sharing their experiences in the days before the “Great Panic,” the time in which the world governments should have acknowledged the zombie outbreak but refused to, inevitably leading to the crisis that almost destroyed humanity.

It continues with the “Great Panic” itself, everyone fleeing everywhere even though there was nowhere to go, governments falling apart, civil wars starting left and right, and people just…dying (and then coming back as zombies).

Then the world finally manages to reorganize itself and start fighting back, creating new tactics and new technology to combat the zombies and starting long campaigns to purge their countries of the menace.

And finally, at the end of it all, we have a very different world — a world that’s rebuilding itself, a world with different major powers, different countries altogether, different beliefs and goals. We have a world that is horrifically traumatized but is still back on its feet, in most places, and is gradually trying to restore the stability of the prewar days.

There you have it — World War Z.


My Take

I know my “plot” section sounds a little vague, but given the way that World War Z is written, I can’t possibly go over the whole plot. Why? Because the book is written as a series of interviews with a number of people from different countries, who all tell stories pertaining to their country’s experiences and their personal experiences. There’s simply way too much to summarize. You’ll just have to read it to get the whole picture.

That being said, what a great book! I don’t know why I’ve never read this book before now. It’s fantastic! Brooks’ unique storytelling structure was perfect for his subject matter. In about 350 pages, he manages to encapsulate a complex and colorful global war, all the while keeping the story fresh and interesting by utilizing the personal experiences of the different characters. There’s drama, death, action sequences, victory and defeat, nostalgia…the whole package.

And Christ, I can’t imagine the sheer amount of research that went into this book. Its truly history at its finest hour. Brooks takes real-world current events and blends them perfectly into his hypothetical zombie scenario, and a lot of what occurs in the book is terrifyingly realistic — you could imagine about 95% of what happens in World War Z happening in real life if there ever was a zombie apocalypse. There are no fantastical or rose-colored embellishments in this book. It is brutal and honest.

Now, I have seen complaints about people not liking the storytelling style, but I, for one, loved it. And I can’t imagine a better way to approach subject matter like this. If Brooks had just picked a single character or a couple of characters and told a standard third-person story about their harrowing journeys, sure, it might have been a good book — but it wouldn’t have been history. The title of the book is “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” not “World War Z: Three Peoples’ Experiences in the Zombie War.” I think Brooks created the perfect story structure for maintaining both an interesting narrative and the “history” feel of the novel.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. I thought this book was a masterpiece, both structurally and plot-wise. It was perfectly researched and perfectly executed, in my opinion.



I thought Brooks captured each character’s voice very well. All of the personal narratives in the book sound unique and, to the best of my knowledge, accurately reflect cultural differences. Brooks had no probably jumping from a Japanese perspective to a Russian to an American to a Cuban and back again. He didn’t slack off on making sure all his character’s experiences reflected their personalities and their geography – nothing was repetitive in this book. Brooks did a wonderful job giving the reader as broad and varied a view of the “Zombie War” as possible.


Is It Worth Reading?




4.5/5 ( )
  ClaraCoulson | Nov 16, 2015 |
Very fun read. Great commentary on society and what happens when it is facing extinction. Tons of delightful quotes and lots to think about. ( )
  brikis98 | Nov 11, 2015 |
I first started my zombie reading with DBDA. It moreless set the standard for my expectations of the genre.

I prefer the zombie apocalypse from the perspective of a individual or smaller group in a defined environment (i.e. The Walking Dead). I found World War Z's approach of going all over the world for background on the apocalypse just too much. I could not finish reading the book. However, I subsequently listened to the audiobook. It was bearable in that medium, but marginally so. ( )
  usma83 | Nov 4, 2015 |
I really liked the interview style narrative of this book. I saw the movie first but I don't think the two can even be compared as the same story. This story was different from the typical zombie book/ tv show/ movie in that it gave a look into the post-zombie apocalypse and how not just one or two individuals responded but on a worldwide scale. The book embraced the tough decisions that individuals, leaders, and nations would have to face in that type of situation and reading it feels like an actual recent-history book (not in a boring way). Overall I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it whether you've seen the movie before or not. ( )
  TrekkieChick29 | Oct 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 498 (next | show all)
And while all the action and drama is top notch, it would just be a mechanical exercise if it weren’t for the sociological commentary inserted. It may be out in the open but Brooks does not beat you over the head with it. I love how he shows how both the general public and governments deal with zombie crisis, mainly with denial. If you want, zombies are simply a symbol for the entire real world such as climate change or a dwindling supply.
added by paradoxosalpha | editDaily Kos, billssha (Jul 4, 2011)

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Max Brooksprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elias, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keränen, HelmiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petersen, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ramírez Tello, PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reiner, CarlNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reiner, RobNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tran, DavidCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Henry Michael Brooks,
who makes me want to change the world.
Bana dünyayı değiştirme isteği veren
Henry Michael Brooks için...
First words
Introduction - It goes by many names: "The Crisis," "The Dark Years," "The Walking Plague," as well as newer and more "hip" titles such as "World War Z" or "Z War One."
Setting - Greater Chongqing, the United Federation of China
Chapter One - The first outbreak I saw was in a remote village that offically had no name.
'Fear is the most valuable commodity in the universe' Turn on the TV what are you seeing? People selling you products? No. People selling you the fear of you having to live without their products' Fear of aging, fear of loneliness, fear of poverty, fear of failure. Fear is the most basic emotion we have. Fear is primal. Fear sells. pg 55 (edit)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307346617, Paperback)

“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.

Eyewitness reports from the first truly global war

“I found ‘Patient Zero’ behind the locked door of an abandoned apartment across town. . . . His wrists and feet were bound with plastic packing twine. Although he’d rubbed off the skin around his bonds, there was no blood. There was also no blood on his other wounds. . . . He was writhing like an animal; a gag muffled his growls. At first the villagers tried to hold me back. They warned me not to touch him, that he was ‘cursed.’ I shrugged them off and reached for my mask and gloves. The boy’s skin was . . . cold and gray . . . I could find neither his heartbeat nor his pulse.” —Dr. Kwang Jingshu, Greater Chongqing, United Federation of China

“‘Shock and Awe’? Perfect name. . . . But what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t! That’s what happened that day outside New York City, that’s the failure that almost lost us the whole damn war. The fact that we couldn’t shock and awe Zack boomeranged right back in our faces and actually allowed Zack to shock and awe us! They’re not afraid! No matter what we do, no matter how many we kill, they will never, ever be afraid!” —Todd Wainio, former U.S. Army infantryman and veteran of the Battle of Yonkers

“Two hundred million zombies. Who can even visualize that type of number, let alone combat it? . . . For the first time in history, we faced an enemy that was actively waging total war. They had no limits of endurance. They would never negotiate, never surrender. They would fight until the very end because, unlike us, every single one of them, every second of every day, was devoted to consuming all life on Earth.” —General Travis D’Ambrosia, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

An account of the decade-long conflict between humankind and hordes of the predatory undead is told from the perspective of dozens of survivors who describe in their own words the epic human battle for survival.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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