World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

January 31, 2007 at 11:13 am | Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide – a work that tells you what to do in the event of an outbreak of zombies – continues this theme in World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. To be sure this is an entirely fanciful notion, but Brooks approaches it in all seriousness

It is the near future (it is unspecified exactly when) and the book is set in the aftermath of a global outbreak of zombies. The book takes the form of a series of interviews with some survivors of this international crisis – politicians, doctors, soldiers, sailors and civilians, a picture builds up of humanity facing its greatest crisis in history.

Starting from patient zero in China and initially characterised as a form of rabies, the book traces its spread throughout the world. The contagion is spread by the bites of the infected, who can only be killed by a shot to the head. The infected have no organisation and no mental functions, only the desire to feed.

They are the enemy, they are relentless, and they add to their numbers with every victim they take. Like a good disaster movie, this book takes you to the brink. You could just dismiss it as a zombie story, something entirely fictional, but it does raise questions about the nature of the spread of disease in the world today. Air travel means that outbreaks of infection are no longer localised. In an age of SARS and bird ‘flu maybe we can draw some lessons from Brooks’ apocalyptic fable.


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