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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  233,157 ratings  ·  18,698 reviews
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 inhospit ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published October 16th 2007 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 2006)
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Julie Wetzel The book and the movie aren't really the same. The book is made up of eye witness accounts from the start of the zombie war all the way up to humanity…moreThe book and the movie aren't really the same. The book is made up of eye witness accounts from the start of the zombie war all the way up to humanity retaking the world from the walking dead. The movie was fun, but the book is amazing. Definitely read the book, but don't go into it expecting to get what the movie presented. And if you don't want to READ it, they did an amazing adaptation on tape, but a few of the stories were left out.(less)
Julie Wetzel No, this is not a horror book. There are zombies, but it's interviews from survivors of the Zombie wars. There are some suspenseful and emotional…moreNo, this is not a horror book. There are zombies, but it's interviews from survivors of the Zombie wars. There are some suspenseful and emotional moment in the books, but it not 'jump out and scare you' or 'blood, guts, and gore'. Definitely worth the read(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ellen
This book was initially recommended to me by several people in the office and since I love zombies and apocalyptic themes, well, I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations and I struggled to finish it. (I'm going to write this review under the assumption that the reader has some inkling about the story and how it's constructed.)

There are two issues that killed it for me. Firstly, most of the characters had the same--or similar--voice. Of course this is partly to d
...more
Jason Pettus
(My full review of this book is longer than Goodreads' word-count limitations; find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].)

Anytime I hear of some funny, gimmicky book suddenly becoming popular among the hipster set, I always squint my eyes and brace myself for the worst; because usually when it comes to such books, the worst is all you can expect to find, an endless series of fluffy pop-culture pieces designed specifically for crafty point-of-pur
...more
Penny
Nov 10, 2012 Penny rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of zombies/those curious about the whole zombie-loving craze
Recommended to Penny by: Two enthusiastic Barnes & Noble employees
I know what you're thinking. "Five stars for this book? Why???"

If you've been following my reviews then you know I tend to stress over how many stars to give a book, and I'm not one to hand out five-star ratings willy-nilly. I'm usually quite cautious when it comes to handing out that all-important fifth star. I'm stingy. That being said, every once in a while a book, that may or may not be amazing, comes along and wows me.

And now you're (probably) thinking: "But Penny, it's a book about zombi
...more
Kat Kennedy
At this current moment in time my husband and I do not actually have a working will. We are the legal definition of intestate. We have not yet made any preparations for our death and we only have life insurance/house insurance because his mother organized the whole damn thing (come to mention it she is also the reason we have electricity, water and a phone line - the internet though was all us because we'd die without it.)

So believe me when I say that we don't organize... anything. Except our zo
...more
Rebecca DeLaTorre
I just can't get on this bandwagon. The pseudo-government reports the book is written in handicap it in many ways. First, there are no protagonists to grow with, no story arc, no climax, etc. You know what's going to happen from day one--there was a world crisis involving zombies and at least some people live to tell the tale. The sure knowledge of the outcome deflates any tension and book feels flacid. The pseudo-scientific jargon is a poor imitation (my sister, a nurse, tossed aside Brooks' o ...more
Seak (Bryce L.)
Jul 12, 2013 Seak (Bryce L.) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Seak (Bryce L.) by: Everyone and their dog.
Shelves: audio, 2013, braaains
Update: See end of review for movie review.

I've broken my cardinal rule for reading books just before the movie comes out. This rule I've alluded to is the following - I don't read the book directly before the movie (at least 1 year before or it must be read after or just wait on the movies). The reason for this is that I want to enjoy the story through both mediums and if you read the book just before the movie, you've set yourself up to be a critic - analyzing everything and complaining about
...more
karen
this book is about zombies the same way the bible is about god. they are mostly background actors who are the reason other characters do what they do and occasionally they will rarrrr in and kill a bunch of people because they cant help it, but mostly they are an invisible presence, always to be feared but never given a voice.

this whole book takes place after the zombies have already destroyed most of the world and is a collection of the testimonials of hundreds (?) of different characters deta
...more
John Wiswell
Jan 08, 2010 John Wiswell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci fi readers, horror readers, fans of oral history
There are reasons to be wary of this book. The title is a little silly, and Max Brooks's Zombie Survival Guide was tongue in cheek. Hell, he's the son of legendary comedy director Mel Brooks. And zombies are creatures that gained popularity thanks to film, which is contrary to the nature of most good creatures. Vampires, ghosts, wizards, witches, dragons, orcs, goblins, angels, werewolves and even Frankenstein's undead abomination came from literature first, and entered film later. Film seldom c ...more
Alex Duncan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
mark monday
On the menu tonight: WORLD WAR Z

Amuse Bouche
Our rich Tartare à la Homo Sapien will astonish you with its hauntingly familiar flavors, its bright and vivid colors, and the truly gamey taste of terror, tears, and trauma. Fresh kill will never appear so carefully arranged and presented: prepare yourself for a buffet that appeases both the palate and the intellect.

Appetizer
A surprisingly hearty summer soup: tantalizing hints of summer flavors frozen solid, then slowly re-animated to surprise the un
...more
Amanda
Jan 26, 2013 Amanda rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: meh, blog
I have biblio-cooties.

There. I said it and I accept it. Because the majority of my friends really, really loved this book. And I fear they will reject me now that they know that it did little to nothing for me. I shall have to sit alone in the library, other readers keeping a wide berth for fear of contagion, but I cannot tell a lie and I stand by my pronouncement: Hi, my name is Amanda and I did not enjoy World War Z.

In the past, I have ripped into books I disliked with a gleeful, almost mania
...more
Joel
ME JUST SIMPLE ZOMBIE BUT NO UNDERSTAND WHY LIVING SO PREJUDICED AGAINST DEAD TOLERATE SUCH HATEFUL BOOK BOOK PRESENT TOTAL ONE-SIDED CASE OF FAKE WAR MAN VERSUS ZOMBIES PORTRAYS ZOMBIES AS MINDLESS AND HAS NO COMPASSION FOR FEELINGS HOPES DREAMS DESIRES OF RECENTLY ALIVE LIKE SMELL THE PRETTY FLOWERS ON GRAVE AND WHERE DID LEG GO USED TO HAVE TWO AND WHAT DOES BRAIN TASTE LIKE SO SUE ME AM CURIOUS ANYWAY BOOK GOES AROUND WORLD SHOWING MAN FIGHT ZOMBIES AND ALL TIMES MAN EITHER KILL ZOMBIE WITH ...more
Jason
ZOMG!

The first time I ever saw that chat acronym my brain immediately registered zombie. Is that weird? I mean, I figured out pretty quickly that the acronym is nothing more than a joke, a mere play on words (so to speak) made at the expense of lazy n00bs whose left fingers slip off the shift key in an attempt to type, “OMG!” But somehow that initial association has stuck with me, as even now when I see someone type it (and usually it’s Ceridwen, Queen of Internet Memes, doing it ironically), I
...more
Paul
Jun 04, 2013 Paul rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my 15-year old former self
Shelves: novels, verysleazyfun
update...update...

To everything there is a time - a time to reap and a time to plant, a time to listen to Schoenberg and a time to listen to Lez Zeppelin, the all-girl tribute band, a time to read Marcel Proust and a time to read about zombie apocalypses. That time, for me, passed some years ago. I shouldn't've picked up this novel but I was seduced by shedloads of great reviews on this very site.

Although my copy has a front-cover blurb by Simon Pegg, it's his very own great little zom-romcom Sh
...more
Carol.
Oct 31, 2012 Carol. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if you want your brain challenged, then eaten
Shelves: apocalypse, zombies, audio
Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Not at all the typical zombie book, and not at all what I expected. Published in 2006, the issues and underlying plot points are as pertinent today as then. What would happen in a real zombie apocalypse? Given current politics, economics, cultural trends, and geography, I'd be willing to bet it happens closely to Brooks' vision.

World War Z is structured along the lines of a documentary, a collection of remembrances about the world-wide zombie war. Divided by ch
...more
Stacia (the 2010 club)
Doing something in reverse bit me in the butt this time. I started the book but didn't get very far in before seeing the movie.

What I thought the movie was going to be :


What I actually got :

Damn, those zombies were fast.

Yes, I am only doing all of this to amuse myself, for the rest of you probably see my self-perceived cleverness as silly. But World War Z the book was a series of interviews, so of course my mind goes right to Brad Pitt's other role having to do with interviews...what was I to do
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Apr 15, 2013 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the living and the dead alike
"This book is so good that you might even come back from the dead to read it. " The Zombie Weekly

"More satisfying than gnawing on your neighbours leg bone and meatier than the cast of "the Biggest Loser USA". " Moan Magazine

"A great insight for any living dead who want to out think the living er living" Corpse Chat

"I was so amazed by this i ate my own arm" Ghoul Housekeeping

"Settle back with some chips, crack open a skull for a bit of brain dip and enjoy world war z" ZQ Magazine
Brownbetty
This book is like ordering ice-cream and receiving a punch in the mouth.

I've been wanting to read this book for a while, since it seemed right up my alley; I love a good apocafic, and zombies are always fun. I made it to page 69 before putting it down with great force--I would have thrown it, except it was a library book.

This book is, as advertised, about the global zombie apocalypse as told by the survivors. You don't stay with a narrative voice very long; each one speaks to the 'interviewer',
...more
Stephen
6.0 Stars. One of my All Time Favorites. This book took the well-worn concept of "the world is being taken over my zombies" and turned it into a global, thriller that looked at both the beginning, middle and end (?) of the struggle from a series of different viewpoints that explore the social, political, environmental and financial effects of such events. Superbly done and I can not conceive of a better standard for the genre. Oh yeah, and it is a real page turner and is NEVER boring.
Matt
Zombie stories have been told in many different ways and teach us many different things. Some zombies are slow and teach us about the dangers of mass consumerism. Some zombies are fast and teach us about the dangers of infectious diseases. Sometimes the zombies take the backseat to a small group of unlikeable zombie-infestation survivors who sit around bickering, making poor decisions, and having circular, intro-level philosophical arguments until you are praying that the undead will rip their t ...more
Swaps55
Aug 03, 2007 Swaps55 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. You don't have to like zombies, you just have to be able to stand them.
this book. is brutally fantastic. i'm not sure if i've ever used that particular combination of descriptors before, but it fits. this is the same guy who wrote the "zombie survival guide," though i will have to rely on the husband to tell me how much of that manual informs this book, as he has been reading that one. both books were his christmas presents, btw, and i had no real mission to read either, but i started idly flipping through world war z out of boredom, and the next thing you know i h ...more
Maciek
World War Z is an interesting project. A self proclaimed Oral History of the Zombie War, the book is presented as a collection of oral interviews with key survivors of the global war against the undead, conducted and compiled by the unnamed narrator (an agent of the UN's postwar commission). Contrary to the geocentrism of most novels concerned with the end of humanity, Brooks is concerned with a World War - his interviewees come from various countries, and their combined testimonies all provide ...more
Aubrey
This book is such a product of its times, it's laughable.

I have a soft spot for zombie wars that are laid out in realistic fashions. A prime example is the show 'The Walking Dead', one of my favorite television series of all time. I haven't quite figured out why I enjoy it so much. Perhaps it's because it's one of the few examples of warfare that doesn't suffer from misrepresentations of the fighting and the enemy, where violence is considered honorable and the enemy is demonized with little reg
...more
Andrew
I haven't seen every zombie movie or read every zombie book in existence, but I have watched enough to know the cliches of the genre. It was so refreshing to read a book that avoided so many of these conventions and covered some new ground. I mean, how many zombie stories span the entire world? How many cover the entire apocalypse, from Patient Zero to the aftermath/rebuilding? Aren't we all a little tired of zombie stories that closely follow a small group of survivors, as they get picked off o ...more
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
Jul 01, 2011 Maja (The Nocturnal Library) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Members of the Undead club
Recommended to Maja (The Nocturnal Library) by: --- 365andMe ---
This will be a short review and it will mostly be about my (imaginary) relationship with Alan Alda and my creepy stalker habits. I apologize in advance.

I've always wanted to marry Alan Alda. Not because I find him particularly attractive, but because I enjoy hearing him speak. The way I see it, if I was married to him, I’d be allowed to wake him up at all hours and make him read to me in that sweet, nasal voice and with that subtle but charming accent. Ok, so maybe my view of love and marriage i
...more
Conrad
Besides the odd Lovecraft, this is the first horror book I've read since tearing through dozens of Stephen King novels in high school.

I really wanted to like it, but the writer had a couple of ticks that drove me crazy. First of all, the CAs - constant acronyms. Nearly every page, there's an aside in which the character who's being interviewed tells us what an acronym means. It's the worst kind of exposition. If you were gathering a comprehensive oral history of the 00s, and you were talking to
...more
Diane
One of my hobbies is film adaptations - comparing source material with the movie script to see how they differ. I wanted to read World War Z because I saw the movie version and had heard it was very different from the book. This is true.

The book as written is unfilmmable -- it's a series of interviews with people around the globe and their experience during the zombie apocalypse. Chunks of the book are very militaristic and we hear from soldiers, commanders and other government agents about the
...more
Brad
I had three responses to World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Here they are:

Surprised: I didn’t expect to like World War Z at all. I’m not even sure why. I like Brooks’ parents, so that shouldn’t have negatively impacted my expectations. I’ve loved Zombies since first I saw Return of the Living Dead in the movie theatre, so I was predisposed to like this book. So I dunno. But I had low expectations, and they were thoroughly exceeded.

It is a great idea, and Brooks’ total commitment to
...more
Tatiana
Jan 22, 2010 Tatiana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenage boys and young men in their 20s, who are very much into zombies
Shelves: 2010
I can easily see this book becoming a new "cult classic." You know, the type of book which is worshiped by teenage boys and young guys in their 20s. The type of book they maul over for hours, discussing all different ways of killing zombies, the new (zombie) war strategies, or, if they are of a smarter bunch, looking for analogies between current political and economical events and those in the book. Well, you get the picture...

Not that I don't appreciate Brooks' novel approach to a dead-beat z
...more
Samadrita
Initially I had thought World War Z was going to be a book I would be surreptitiously adding to my 'read' list, rating it and moving on to better reads quite unceremoniously.
I had considered not even the remotest possibility of reviewing it, because I assumed this was going to be one of those books one reads for sheer entertainment value and little else.
But here I am writing one anyway, because I think the author definitely deserves some praise for his powers of imagination, if not for the copi
...more
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5791
Max Brooks is The New York Times bestselling author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. He has been called ”the Studs Terkel of zombie journalism.“

Brooks is the son of director Mel Brooks and the late actress Anne Bancroft. He is a 1994 graduate of Pitzer College. His wife, Michelle, is a screenwriter, and the couple have a son, Henry.
More about Max Brooks...
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks The Essential Max Brooks: World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide The Harlem Hellfighters Closure, Limited

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