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on 8 July 2009
A very comprehensive book which manages to fit in all the relevant information you may require (when, not if, zombies rise up and plague the land) without being too lengthy or tedious.

I easily became engrossed in the subject of the book, as it was written in a very digestable manner and found myself thinking about remote locations I could flee to and defend when the inevitable happens. My wife has asked why I have suddenly sharpened all the gardening tools and have a cupboard full of corned beef tins. They were cheap dear, and you never know.

I keep meaning to independantly research all the outbreaks he has chronologically detailed towards the end of the book as a way of staying in touch with reality. Then again, I might be disappointed to find out that they never happened and are just a product of the author's fertile imagination. Perhaps I'll never know, and should keep one eye on the slate roofed sheep hut I know of far from any paths in the Lake District.

Well worth a read for any Zombie fans, and I would also recommend it as an interesting twist on the apocolyptal-survivalist theme.
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on 22 August 2007
This book starts off amusing. I bought this book because a friend mentioned it once. I had no idea what to expect.

After reading the first few pages, I was amused. I thought it was funny how the author was taking it so seriously - after all, it's zombies!

Then I read a bit more, and I thought hmm this is kind of a bit boring now, because it's obviously not written (directly) as a humorous book. I read a few more pages and put it down, but within an hour I was back reading it again. Eventually I simply couldn't put it down.

As soon as you mentally make the jump from realising this isn't a (directly) humorous book, to this is a very insightful and fascinating book, both chilling and at the same time exciting, you'll find compared to normal fiction it offers a unique feeling of intrigue, awe and fear. Sure, zombies are slow and easy to kill, but one nibble and you're a gonna.

Once I had finished the book, I (regrettably) gave it to a friend, after animatedly telling them some of the fascinating and unprecidented facts about defense against the living dead. I couldn't stop talking about it!

I am tempted to buy this book again because it's a great book to go back to and re-read sections of. I also bought world war Z after this, which is almost equally good reading (I'd say this book is slightly more interesting though).

This book is not a horror book. It is a practical and logical step by step guide to survival. If you like to think and analyse dangerous situations, this book is for you. If you like to be surprised and intrigued by some of the ingenious methods of survival, this book is for you. If you like zombies, this book is for you. If the thought of 'what if zombies were real, what would we do?' sounds even vaguely interesting, this book is for you.

Buy it. It's not expensive. It will provide you with plenty of entertainment.

To address the issues of some other reviewers:

I didn't find the author to repeat himself any more than was necessary. Each chapter was clearly defined and I didn't find myself skimming through later chapters to skip things that had already been mentioned.

The fact that the stories at the end of the book were believable is testament to the author's ability as a writer to predict human behaviour to the point of making his writings completely belivable. This is also apparently in World War Z, which develops the stories further.

I wouldn't say this book is a waste of money. It entertained me for many hours, and what I took away from it entertained me for many more. Afterwards I read it I often found myself thinking about it, as well as mentioning it to friends. Rare for any fiction book.

The back part of the book is apparently the best. While I have no comment about whether it's true or not, I read that peoples sheer enjoyment of that section is apparently what spawned the other book, world war Z.

I agree that this book could have been taken with irony. I was expecting it and as I wrote above, when I found it slightly boring when it didn't appear. As soon as you take the book for what it is, you can quickly begin enjoying it again.
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on 20 April 2007
Beautifully blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction, this book is an absolute must. I say this because I could barely bring myself to put it down for the entire time I was reading it.

Reinventing the zombie origins, Brooks ascribes the cause of the 'undead plague' to a virulent virus named Solanum, which attacks the brain and allows it to keep functioning even after the organs have shut down and the body begins to decompose. Feeling no pain, and having no awareness of the world around them except for the food on offer, Brooks' zombies are a modern evolution of the zombies on display in Romero's 1968 cult classic, Night of the Living Dead.

Brooks breaks down all the elements that you'll need to survive should a zombie outbreak occur near you. Covering how to stock your house in case of attack, defending it should it become your besieged fortress, going on the run if it all goes wrong, to going on the offensive to take out the undead, he's incredibly thorough about everything from weapons to transport, locations and worse-case scenarios. He even includes a section on how you can survive in the face of a full-scale Zombie Apocalypse. Ray Mears would be proud.

At the end of the book, Brooks points to apparent 'historical' occurrences of zombie outbreaks as a way of showing how the growing threat is being covered up or mishandled. It's testament to his skill as a writer that you can almost believe that they're completely true.

It's an unlikely premise but at least having read this book, you can feel confident that you'll know what to do if the dead ever begin to rise. After all, as the good books says - use your head, and cut off theirs.
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on 30 March 2011
This book was written before World War Z so I have been able to compare things on both books in inverse order (I've readed first WWZ).

This book tries to be a "serious" guide to defend yourself from zombies. As simple as it sounds :D

It is sometimes funny, and has a bit of black humour on it, but mostly tries to be as serious and applied as possible.

It gives all sort of advices, from how to defend your home to how to establish a contingency plan, how to "attack" and raid zombie-infested zones, tactics, and some historical zombie attacks (backgrounds for the supposed guide ;)

So basically we can say the book is 85% a manual of "how to live fighting zombies on a daily basis" and 15% a collection of zombie short-stories themed in the past.

The guide is really well documented, so much that a movie director wanting to do a zombie movie could use this guide as a manual of "how to make a zombie movie". Some tactis explained are funny but clever ones.

Some of the stories are really well thought and even scarier than the future depicted in World War Z (the one of the slaves ship is my favourite), and look like the seed that Brooks planted for WWZ (or maybe was a "playground" to see how well could he tell small zombie tales?).

If you enjoyed World War Z, or just like zombie movies, go grab this book before the apocalypse comes!
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on 26 December 2007
I've always been interested in zombies for some reason ever since watching the newer Dawn of the Dead (according to this book those zombies are completely unrealistic, and the zombies in the old Dawn of the Dead are much more accurate). So I saw this book and purchased it. I have read this book several times over now, and I never lose interest in it. The way it's written makes you think there is a 100% genuine chance that your neighbours are going to shuffle up the drive, wailing as they go. The book describes so many different aspects of zombie survival, including the behaviour of a true zombie, ways of turning a home in to a mini fortress and even goes into great detail on each different type of gun, and how effective it is against your undead foe. Whenever I walk around my house now, I subconsciouly check that the residents of my street are not undead (which is particularly hard because most of them are 80+). Sad, I know, but that's what this book does to you.

It actually made me double check I knew where the key to the cupboard where I keep my shotgun and cartridges was.

I'd recomend this book to anyone, whether they're interested in zombies or not.
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on 30 December 2005
Like many others, Horror is my favourite Genre of not only films but books. The type of Horror I like is the idea of Zombies - the dead rising from the grave to wreak havoc and feasting on the flesh of the ignorant humans populating the earth - and soon the earth is theirs. Max Brooks aims to educate the reader with how to handle a Zombie pandemic and protect themselves from these blood curdling ghouls. The book itself states that ''it is a book that could save your life'' and it sets itself out to do so. The writer does not give any hints that any of this is 'make believe' and merely satirical which we know it is and gives the impression he is being 'deadly' serious and this is what makes this book so effective. From teaching us of the deadly virus Solanum to zombie attributes, to weapons and clothing and to zombie outbreaks in history- IT HAS THE LOT!
This companion is a MUST for any self confessed Zombie lover or avid horror fan. Max Brooks has indeed created a MONSTER!
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on 18 December 2010
What can I say? This book is amazing. As I have an unhealthy obsession with Zombies anyway this book is perfect in every way.

With Chapters such as 'Myths and Realities' which expels classic myths and puts them into perspective into the real world right up to 'Weapons and Combat Techniques' which prepares you for real world solutions and your call at arms to the undead infestation. This book gives you confidence where you thought there was no hope.

No longer will I fear for my life when roaming the deserted streets wondering if there is a zombie waiting round the next corner. I can now walk around, fully equipped and safe in the knowledge that I am prepared for ANY situation that occurs.

Zombie hordes beware!!!
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on 9 September 2007
When I was at university my housemate and I would often ponder what would we do right at that moment if a zombie outbreak occured - what weapons would we choose? where would we go and hide? and the like. This book is fantastic for any other like-minded people! It is an actual step-by-step survival guide in case of a zombie breakout and covers every eventuality which makes it really funny - the author sounds insane because it has been so seriously written - this man has gone into some serious thought about every aspect of a zombie apocolypse and it cracks me up.

Someone "borrowed" this from me and never returned it and I'm actually buying it again now - that's how good it is!
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on 24 September 2007
This book is perfect for anyone, like myself, who walks into a room and instantly scans for anything that could be used as a bludgeon on an undead attacker and for anyone, like myself, who has a plan for any scenario when zombies finaly do rise. This book answers all the questions you have asked yourself and even some you would have never thought of. My long term zombie plan went straight out of the window when i read this book. With the help of Max Brooks and his amazing book I have an all new plan that i am certain will hold up in any class of outbreak.

Now we just have to wait.
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on 30 November 2007
"the zombie survival guide" is really and truly a survival guide that tackles the question of how to survive if zombies were to unleash themselves upon the world. it is deadly serious, thoroughly researched and very carefully thought out. in fact, "thought out" has connotations of something that is invented, a fancy - so that isn't perhaps the right turn of phrase. planned, is better. yes, planned. max brooks has a plan - and its in this book.

brooks covers everything imaginable - the only things that he doesn't cover are those which one could find in other sources, like first aid etc. every eventuality, every consideration, every variable with regards to zombies has been considered. he covers weapons, terrain, combat techniques, battle strategies, transport, preparation guidelines and defending your stronghold. with each section he looks into the variables and the pros and cons of each option.

i was seriously impressed by his planning as i was reading the book and then there was one point that i got to when i realised "whoa, he really has thought of everything". it was in the chapter when he discusses how to maintain a stronghold and one of his points was "entertainment". he describes how every group must find out about the skills (whatever they be) of the group members and encourage them to learn songs or write skits or whatever, and perform them, the reason being that it is of vital importance for relaxation and morale. brooks really has thought of everything.

the end of the book contains a chronology of suspected outbreaks of zombie attacks, to provide a quasi-record. it also provides guidance on what to do (and what not to do) in a zombie attack.

i tell you, if one follows everything in this book then one has a serious chance at survival.

but, as good as this book is, as a read it left me a bit cold. to be frank, i found it a bit boring.

thats an odd thing to say, isn't it, considering how good it is and how much i love zombies - it doesn't seem to make sense. but the fact of the matter is the book is simply too dry. too factual. "yes, of course it is" you say, "its a survival guide". but, i guess, even though i knew it was a survival guide in my heart i still expected to be entertained.

brooks goes to tiresome lengths to cover everything and there is a stage, when one is halfway through the book, when one pretty much knows what he's going to say in most sentences. thats because the logic has already been established by then - the basic advantages and disadvantages of every strategy. the rest one can pretty much work out for oneself.

also, the book repeats itself. once the reader understands the advantage of a certain terrain then there really is no need for any further mention of it - but brooks devotes an entire chapter on how to use terrains when one is on the run or on the offence. granted, there are some differences as to how one uses it in defence, but something which could have been tacked on in the "defence" chapter or been a few pages in length, becomes several pages. and especially when one reads about bloody tundra or the dangers to safety in city streets for the third time, one's patience wears very thin indeed.

but then, i think if this is a failing, it is a failing because brooks is too thorough, too careful. he considers that one has read what has gone before, but for the most part he has written the book so that every section can be a self-contained piece of guidance. and so if there is a problem, it is perhaps not with the way brooks wrote the book, but with the way i read it. in retrospect, this is definitely a dip in and dip out kind of book. a coffee table book. a book for that moment when you think to yourself "i wonder which hideouts would be safest?".

although, as i sit here and write this, i think why couldn't there have been a little humour, a bit of horror, a bit of fun? is that so wrong? but i guess thats part of the book's whole angle - that it takes its premise so seriously. if it is humorous, then it was so dry that it totally passed me by (although, i must say, i couldn't help but find the illustrations funny. however, every time i did laugh i found myself feeling like a little boy, laughing at pictures in the bible or something).

the other thing to say is that while this is almost exclusively advertised as the "perfect companion to `world war z' " i must tell you that this is not true. yes, it might be interesting to pick up the survival guide and look and gauge how effective a weapon a character has chosen is, or read about a hideout that a group has chosen, but when i read it i didn't pick the guide up once. for one thing "world war z" is totally self-contained. the advantages and disadvantages behind the characters choices are given or inferred, because the book is a retrospective telling and the narrators all have the benefit of hindsight. the other thing is that the book is written for you, the individual, and how to survive by yourself or within a group, but a lot of the book looks at official organisations and how they dealt with the crisis.

so, while it is an interesting companion piece, it is by no means essential. at the very least i can tell you that you definitely don't have to "read it before you read `world war z' " as i told myself i had to. the best way to enjoy it is to grab whenever curiosity takes you. for that, this book is perfect. if you're like me and have spent any length of time seriously contemplating how to make a castle habitable, then this book is for you. if you have a question, theory, or if you're just curious as to how to kill zombies underwater (you hadn't thought of that one had you?! (well, i hadn't)), then theres a good chance brooks has the answer!
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