15 September 2010

Max Brooks - World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (and a bit on his other book too)

  • Author: Max Brooks
  • Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
  • Publisher: Can't remember
  • ISBN: Dunno
I grabbed a copy of WWZ last week, cause I'd been meaning to have a read of it for a while, and I had a few bucks. ZOMG, I should have gotten this book years ago.

The premise is essentially that the book is a collection of interviews with survivors of the recent zombie apocalypse that ravaged the earth. It's been 10 years now, and a journalist who had previously compiled a report for the UN on the facts and figures of the war had all of these personal stories left over, stories that the UN weren't really that interested in.

So, the guy compiles these interviews and recollections into a chronological history of the rise and fall of the zombies. The book reads like a pop history book, much in the vein of We Were Soldiers Once, And Young by Hal Moore and Joe Galloway, which is a memoir and oral history of The Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam 1965. It's a great way to tell history, because it is human and therefore authentic.

And that is the key to the success of Max Brooks' storytelling in this book. It is hugely authentic, with an emotional edge that almost tears you apart inside as you read it. Despite the subject matter, it is surprisingly not very gruesome. And it's decent attempt at global coverage makes this one of the few instances in which the authors Amero-centric outlook just about bearable.

I highly recommend this book, it is definitely one of the best that I have read this year.

And then it happened.......

On the basis of this book, I also had a look at The Zombie Survival Guide by the same author, which I would suggest you probably skip. Aside from the odd 'cute' rewrite of history (in which the Roanoake Colony mystery is explained by a zombie plague, for example,) it is essentially a wacko American survivalist manual with the words 'Commie Bastard' replaced with the word 'Zombie. It's not worth reading, even for a laugh.

I look forward to seeing what else Max Brooks can come up with. One out of two so far, but I think there might be great things to come from him, especially if he writes another oral history style piece, but I will be interested to read some straight fiction from him.

The end.