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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Counter-factuality
Many of the reviews of the book here are by readers expert in the ways of the Zombie Apocalypse. I approached the book as a novice on that topic but as someone interested in the constructions of counter-factuals (often called alt.hist)- histories of the road not traveled. Brooks has clearly absorbed a lot of influences to present what I found a rather good...
Published 21 months ago by Charles Vasey

3.0 out of 5 stars An original take on the zombie novel which falls short of greatness
World War Z is a highly original take on the zombie novel as it tells its story through a series of interviews with a variety of people who tell their stories of what happened both before, during, and after the zombie outbreak. There is a large range of characters, from military personnel to a blind Japanese gardener.

The advantage of this book is that it...
Published on 13 April 2013 by Crazy Jamie

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Counter-factuality, 26 July 2013
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Many of the reviews of the book here are by readers expert in the ways of the Zombie Apocalypse. I approached the book as a novice on that topic but as someone interested in the constructions of counter-factuals (often called alt.hist)- histories of the road not traveled. Brooks has clearly absorbed a lot of influences to present what I found a rather good "history". The basic armature is current Government responses to dangerous diseases, and Ebola seems nearly as alien as the zombies. On to this he has grafted some very interesting concepts of how current hi-tech weapons might or might not work against the infected, especially an enemy incapable of fear. Then we have the response of Governments to both the threat and the collapse of the highly specialised just-in-time economy (the New Deal model being applied here). One of the weaknesses of alt.hist is that it has to be believable to an audience with many different views of what is probable, but one of its strengths is it gets people engaged in debate about that credibility.

I thought this a fine piece of counter-factual work, well up with Sinclair Lewis's IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE (better known to many of us in its SF version "V"). I hope other counter-factual novels will make it through the gap Max Brooks has opened.
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202 of 231 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing account of humanity's greatest conflict, 22 Dec. 2006
Dr. P. J. A. Wicks (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: World War Z (Paperback)
I read Max Brook's previous book "The Zombie Survival Guide", and enjoyed most of it. I liked the realistic assessment of just how things might go down in the event of a zombie crisis, and it was the perfect book for know-it-alls like me who when watching a horror movie yell "aim for the head!!!" at the screen. It took de-zombification to the next level with very practical tips; shotguns and chainsaws might look cool in video games but once you're out of shells and out of gas you're screwed. Contrast that with a shaolin spade or a genine katana however... Anyway, where I felt that book was less interesting was the appendix in the back listing various zombie encounters throughout history. The problem is that all outbreaks follow a similar pattern; mysterious illness, reanimation, fear and ignorance causing more harm than the zombies, discovery of how to defeat them, then resolution (or total ahnhilation of the population involved). Right? Well that's not particularly interesting for isolated outbreaks in Papua New Guinea. But what if we had a big outbreak today; with cheap air travel and people smuggling and loose borders and human rights laws and the internet and thermonuclear stealth bombers... we'd be fine right?

Maybe not. Where Brooks excels is highlighting the worst elements of human society in its initial response to the outbreak. The Chinese try to cover it up, big pharma tries to make a buck out of it, the government release a safety video and then go about winning the next election, and if your kids get worried just bang them on Ritalin and Prozac. When the swarms finally attack mainland USA and western Europe, everyone is caught totally unprepared. Suddenly sweaty executives who've never done a day's manual labour in their lives are having to live rough in the woods with no Blackberry and no lattes in sight. Isolated pockets of trigger-happy gun nuts have their apocalyptic survivalist fantasies brought to life, and the governments of the world have to make some hard, hard choices.

But as bleak as this sounds, the individual stories of heroism and daring demonstrate why it is that humanity ever got this far in the first place. In a not-too-subtle swipe at the way the military is turning into a video game, all the "advanced warfighter" strategies of battlefield technology, GPS, infra-red goggles, armour piercing bullets etc. are all rendered utterly useless, and it turns out the most useful weapon in the arsenal of the world's greatest superpower is the little shovel that their grunts carry as an entrenching tool. Whack a zombie over the head with it, repeat as necessary.

Although it's become somewhat of a cliche to draw parallels with modern "anti-terrorist" warfare, the rise of the zombies has one major echo with today's suicide bombers and jihadists; there is no fear of death, no centralised infrastructure, and very little point deploying tanks against them.

All in all Brooks has created a convincing alterate universe which is well informed by accurate geopolitical knowledge, group psychology, military doctrine, and genuine humanity.

Finally, I should state that this is the only book I've ever read where, having finished it, I turned back to page one and started over.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what you'd expected - an exceptionally good read, 28 July 2014
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This review is from: World War Z (Kindle Edition)
World War Z is a different kind of book. In fact it is unlike anything I have ever read. If you disliked the movie - then the book is especially for you - as it is nothing like the movie by the same name, except maybe some of the overall scenarios. This is Max Brooks' 2nd Zombie book, though I did not read the first, as it seemed more technical/Zombie fans genre oriented.

In contrast World War Z is a collection of interviews conducted & edited by the story teller, which started as a document for the UN (to better understand and appraise the zombie war), and ended as a book due to its fabulous human content. Each interview tells a personal story of the interviewee’s involvement in the Zombie war, some not even as combatant but mere bystanders.

At the end of the day, World War Z is an underlying critics of western society. Everything that went wrong during the Zombie War is something that has to do with the modern age laziness and self-oriented culture, and everything that signalled the turning point in the war (and thus mankind’s salvation) has been achieved through cooperation and 'togetherness'. it's freaky to think how fragile the western civilization is, but come to think of that, no detail in WWZ is un-plausible and no scenario is impossible.

This book will make you reflect a lot on western society, whilst some stories/interviews you'd wish would go on and on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's about humans, the zombies are metaphor, 20 Nov. 2013
Denis Vukosav - See all my reviews
'World War Z' by Max Brooks I read after his first book - Zombie survival guide, both in few days I'm pleasantly surprised.
Although I'm not big fan of zombie genre, Brooks first entertained me with Guide so I gave chance to this one as well.
This second book is even more interesting and sometimes it was hard to put it away.

In some way this book is continuation of humans-zombies encounters list brought in Zombie survival guide but this last encounter would prove fatal for human race and almost for planet Earth itself - World War Z describes outbreak of the living dead spread worldwide in some near future. Only good news is that for the time humanity is (almost) completely on one side versus almost invincible enemy.

Little uncommon is way in which Brooks wrote this book, it's in a form of interviews with people (conducted by Brooks?) who participated in that war. Each chapter is written in first-person interviews from people who lived and (most of them) survived WWZ from outbreak start to war end. Interviews are unlinear, not sorted chronologically, they are made all over the globe and soon we will found out that 20 years have passed since "hell breaks loose".
Good news in the end are that humanity won the war, bad news are that lot of people died, and for some news we are not certain are they bad or good and that is fact all world is changed for good because that was the only way to win war.
Book interview format emphasize realism although villain is completely fictional, but what is most interesting is that hard lessons humans learned first months of war could be completely actual/true if such crisis would arise in real world.

Almost lost our only world from enemy which is nearly undefeatable through many emotional and tragic events, heroic or completely unnecessary stupid acts, we as humans together with our animal friends rose again and reclaimed what is ours.
On the other hand, for some people book is lacking of love stories and such clichés for which I'm grateful because in my opinion that would lower realism and horror which engulfed people during those dark ages which is well described by author.

As conclusion, World War Z is good realistic book about human behavior in difficult time and zombies could be apprehended as personification for peril which is almost invincible. After first zombie book which was good satire, in second Brooks took same villain but wrote entirely different bitter story about what it takes to be a human and to survive in difficult times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A written record of the zombie war, 16 Sept. 2012
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: World War Z (Paperback)
A somewhat different take on post apocalyptic fiction and zombies, this is a book that tells of how humanity got by following the outbreak of a plague that turned people into zombies.

[Not a spoiler]

We won.

But it was a long hard struggle, and like all wars, things didn't go back to the way they were before afterwards.

The book is presented as being a record of conversations with people who were involved in the fight against the zombies, which they had with a united nations researcher who was writing a report into the conflict.

Thus the introduction is presented as part of the book, and is the observer telling how the book came to be.

It runs for three hundred and forty two pages, and is divided into eight chapters. The chapters follow the conflict in chronological order, from initial outbreak to initial reaction, early conflict, how humanity survived, the eventual turning of the tide. And the aftermath.

Each chapter contains a varying amount of write ups of conversations that the observer had with various people, from all over the world. They are presented in the format of a written record of what the interviewee said, with any interjections or questions from the observer being presented in a different format.

Each conversation has a short note beforehand, also in a different format, which tells of where the interviewee was and what they were doing when the conversation took place. These have an interesting effect because they give the reader a glimpse of what the world is like post the end of the conflict.

It's an engrossing read because it presents a very believable picture of how the world might react to something like this. And it's very thought provoking as a result. It's not a fast read from the off but it's a very absorbing read.

The pace changes slightly from around the midway point as you get into interesting chapters that detail the way humanity adapts and survive. And it remembers this is a global conflict because it shows us what happened in many different countries.

It ends the way real wars do. Not with last minute daring assaults on the evil overlords base. But with hard conflict. An eventual ending. And many ramiications afterwards.

It does contain some strong language and gruesome and possibly distressing moments.

And it's not for those looking for zombie action or horror.

But it's a novel way of presenting a story of this nature, which makes it a great read and well worth five stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, Memorable, An Absolute Must Have, 6 Feb. 2015
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Delivery and Packaging: Delivery speed was exceptionally fast arriving well before estimated delivery date. Packaging was suitable and very good for the type of product.

The product itself; As someone who is not a particular fan of the zombie genre itself. I have to say I really enjoyed the narraitve style and writing of this book. The interview/documentary/report style really offers a unique perspective of many different peoples and cultures and thier experiences. It chronicles from patient zero to the aftermath of the breakout of the zombie war. This is a great book whether you are realitvely new to the zombie genre or a veteran reader of zombie novels I would say this book definitely has something to offer/appeal to all readers. Having also listened to the audiobook adaptation as well as having read the book I would say this is great across various media's depending on your preference. In the case of some narrative tales in this book I would say that Audiobook is actually a better way to enjoy this book as it captures the emotions and experiences of the characters a lot better than if one was simply reading the book.

Now for those of you who are curious as to how this book compares to the film adaptation. I would say if you enjoyed the film you wouldnt necessarily enjoy the book as the film is World War Z in title only. The zombies in the book are a lot more the traditional concept or public perception of zombies. I.e slow moving and the way it transmits the zombie pathogen is a lot more terrifying as it can go unnoticed easily until you hit the later stages so again it's interesting to read about that in the books. In the film adaptation, the report/documentary style is completely absent and the zombies are more that of 28 days later. I go into some detail about the differences merely to convey that the book is vastly different from the film and in terms of enjoyment of this particular title this information can make all the difference in your decision to buy this book.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely I think this book is a great addition to any book collection as the narrative style etc is excellent and I think this book has something to appeal to readers of all types be it your new to the horror genre or already a fan. Eitherway this book is a most certainly a must read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars seems to express some of the anxieties of the age, 18 Jan. 2014
Post a global apocalyptic zombie pandemic, through a series of interviews, survivors recount their tales of early warnings, ghoulishness, blame, gore, panic, gore, warfare, ghoulishness, triumph and gore. We get to hear stories of futile people smuggling, public denial, corporate medical scams, traumatized children, traumatized soldiers, useless technology, redundant middle-classes, domestic strife, Hobbesian nightmares, heroic self sacrifice, bizarre quislings, ferals and survivalists, relentless zombies, decaying zombies, urban zombies, rural zombies, frozen zombies, underground zombies, underwater zombies, splattered, zapped and chopped zombies. We get to hear a lot about weapons, Machiavellian military strategies and even several pages on anti-zombie military dogs!

Like all great apocalyptic novels this book seems to express some of the anxieties of the age: how does one fight any enemy that does not require supply logistics, cannot be reasoned with, cannot be demoralized, feeds off your own ranks, and is not centrally coordinated and therefore can be individually but not collectively decapitated? Are we talking zombie pandemic here or Al Qaeda?

I found this book difficult to get going with (simply because I prefer my apocalyptic scenarios to be more plausible in origin), thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing for the middle 300 or so pages, but a bit of a drag to get to the end of (I knew we were going to survive and the scenarios were beginning to get a bit tedious - dogs and sewers in Paris). Mostly the book conveyed well the relentless menace and social and political implications of slow moving zombies taking over the planet.

Overall, an easily read and enjoyable book that was resurrected (groan) (groan again for zombie groaning) from a lifeless scenario (more groans) by the vivid and thoughtful account of its unfolding. Which is more than can be said for the film which has only the general scenario in common with the book and that looks as if it has been made by a committee for the confederacy of dunces.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books and vastly superior to the film!, 21 Sept. 2013
John Milton (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Having seen the film version relatively recently, I thought it appropriate to review what is one of my favourite books and point out that, in short, the printed version is vastly superior and immeasurably different from the screen adaptation, which bears little resemblance to the book other than in name.

For those of you who aren't aware, WWZ is set ten years after a zombie apocalypse has all but destroyed humanity on the planet. The novel takes the form of personal accounts of survivors from all over the world and their own recollection of events, given to a United Nations agent. I really don't want to give too much away so will leave it at that!
Max Brooks, the author of WWZ, is undoubtedly a massive fan of the zombie genre and in particular, the movies of Romero. Much like Romero's zombie flicks, WWZ is on the face of it, a great tale of the walking dead. Brooks apes Romero in that throughout the novel, there is the ever present not so thinly veiled social commentary and attacks upon present day governmental policies from around the world.

For me, one of the best parts of the novel was the variety in characters and their development. A serious problem I have with horror movies is the generic choice of lead characters; usually being a group of attractive young Americans who get picked off one by one in fairly predictable fashion. In WWZ, we have the stories of soldiers, former terrorists, politicians, film directors and civilians and how they dealt with the zombie war and aftermath.

Prior to writing WWZ, Brooks authored `The Zombie Survival Guide'. I am relieved to say that I had NOT read TZSG before reading WWZ. As fun as TZSG is, to my mind it is a companion book and its sections are capable of being dipped in and out of with little regard to flow and is very much more of a manual for survival than a novel!
Conversely,WWZ, in short, is fantastic. Brooks has obviously spent an awful lot of time thinking about zombies and all those "what if" scenarios but on a far grander scale than many fans of the genre could possibly imagine. His writing style is straightforward; character development well thought out and the book as a whole lends itself well to screen adaptation. It is of no surprise that there was a bidding war over the screen rights to this novel.

Simon Pegg, star of `Shaun of the Dead', described WWZ as "An absolute must have" and I would submit to you that he is spot on. I had hoped that Brad Pitt would do the movie version of this tremendous book justice but it was not to be.

My recommendation would be to avoid the film and instead, make sure you crack the spine on this book and spend some time immersing yourself in Brooks' vision of earth following a zombie outbreak!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a well written apocalyptic story!, 15 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: World War Z (Kindle Edition)
This is the first time I read a book that's been turned into a movie (classics aside). And I did it on purpose. The movie is not in theatres yet but I saw some trailers and found them rather silly. So I thought: what is the book like? The answer is simple: GREAT!
The book's narrative is constructed of short interviews or stories narrated by survivors of the war. They were conducted for a report for an international community. Since the report is void of emotions and concentrates on facts and figures, author publishes them as a book for all to read. This is an ingenious way of telling a story: it has credibility of first hand accounts and enough emotions to make it personal. Each story is short, proceeded by a brief info about where it was recorded and what is the situation of the survivor who tells it. Ingenious. What is more important, it is not a story of a one man or group of people. It is a story of all humanity told by its members from various paths of life, countries, of different religions and beliefs. This makes it credible, well balanced and extremely readable.
Some bits are not for the faint hatred, some are tat boring, just like in real life. One thing that I'm certain of, although I saw only trailers and not the whole movie, that wave of zombies, that tide of bodies that you can see in the movie engulfing everything on their way... Somebody should have had explained to the director what a metaphor is. Or to the scriptwriter. Man, that thing just does not exist in book. On the contrary, it is even scarier, more overwhelming in its slow but unstoppable progress...
From the beginning, since the book is written after the war, we know that it ends in a good kind of way, well humanity survives, just... So as a reader you can relax and enjoy studying the story, origins, developments etc. it's a good book for anyone who likes biographies, non-fiction and real-life stories. Even if it is sci-fi.
And by the way... I will go to see the movie. Just to see what else they changed. Although I don't hold high hopes...
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2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, I didn't like this at all., 28 April 2013
Martin Belcher (Hampshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: World War Z (Paperback)
I have to be brutally honest and say I didn't enjoy this book at all. I love zombie fiction, it's my favourite sub-genre of the Horror area. This book left me cold and feeling like I was not involved in it at all, I just didn't like the concept and how the book was written and set out.

Unlike most other Zombie books, this one did not seem to focus on characters, it mainly concerns itself in portraying a global war against zombies and how this effects each area of our planet from Europe to Asia, South America to North America and lots of countries in between. I guess therein lays the fault and is the reason it left me cold. You feel like you are in a travelogue and watching a 24 hour news channel like CNN or Sky News rather than reading a book about people. Too much politics, countries harbouring grudges against each other and submarines and weapons for my liking. I can switch on my TV and watch the BBC news to get plenty of this, I don't want to sit down and read about it. It distinctly lacked a human element, a feeling that you can empathise with a character and follow them. The only redeeming part of the book that I can say was good was a section featuring a man hiding out in his apartment in a large Japanese city and how he escaped the zombies by dropping down the high rise block by using sheets tied to the various balconies, I thought to myself, right it's getting better and then that part ended and we were back to hum drum....

I am very disappointed and I am surprised at how many readers have raved about this book. Sorry it's not for me. As a little postscript, I sincerely hope Hollywood have made the film due out this summer a bit more interesting than the book!
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