Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” as Want to Read:
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  386,435 ratings  ·  23,873 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
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Crown
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about World War Z, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Dingo928 The Film did not stay true to the book. The book has so many stories within it, that it is impossible to translate it into a film trilogy let alone…moreThe Film did not stay true to the book. The book has so many stories within it, that it is impossible to translate it into a film trilogy let alone one movie. Not even Peter Jackson himself can milk three Long films out of this book. WWZ would have been ideal for a series or even an HBO miniseries. The only similarities that the film has with the book, are some locations/war zones described in the book. Basically the studios that bought the rights from Mr. Brooks paid for the name only which is a shame because this could hinder any future attempts at creating a series that can truly do this book justice. I would have enjoyed the movie more if it had a different title.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  386,435 ratings  ·  23,873 reviews

Sort order
May 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Jason Pettus
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
(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 [].)

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
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Humanity survived Zombie apacolypse.

Like after any great tragedy, the government wants a record.

Max Brooks is their oral historian.

Only, when he hands his documents, the bureaucracy whittles it down to the bare facts.

Humans, over every nation, dragged their bone weary bodies through this war.

They are now faced with the numbing task of rebuilding society.

They deserve to have their stories told. So, he publishes the true account of World War Z.

Told in a series of vignettes, we listen
Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
”The book of war, the one we’ve been writing since one ape slapped another was completely useless in this situation. We had to write a new one from scratch.”

With most apocalyptic situations, I think the hardest part to deal with is that there are no wrong decisions or right decisions. There are simply too many variables to consider if your ultimate goal is to survive. The most meticulously planned strategies can still result in failure. You make the best decisions you can and then hope for a bit
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
Rebecca DeLaTorre
Jun 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: zombies-r-bitey
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
Sep 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to seak 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
John Wiswell
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.

A surprisingly hearty summer soup: tantalizing hints of summer flavors frozen solid, then slowly re-animated to surprise the u
Nov 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very pleasant surprise.

TBT, not a huge fan of the zombie sub-genre: never watched an episode of the Walking Dead, never really bought into it as a fantasy vehicle.

So – I picked this up with not so much trepidation as an allowance that I probably would not love it. I didn’t LOVE it, but liked it a lot more than I expected I would.

Here’s the thing:

It’s not JUST about an I Am Legend scenario where the world turns into monsters. Well – it sort of IS about that – but it’s also about a lot more. Aut
Rebecca McNutt
Never judge a book by its cover, especially if its cover looks too good to be true - I learned that the hard way after spending money on a new copy of World War Z. The title "World War Z" was cool as heck, the cover had a decayed, vintage kind of look and it said it was about zombies, and since I was a fan of Romero's Living Dead film trilogy, I figured this could be a really exciting book.

Big mistake.

World War Z was mostly just ranting and rambling, a sea of unnecessary gore and a lot of chopp
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having just read the most literary of all zombie novels makes one thing clear: haute lit & this particular horror genre simply don't mix. But that doesn't make the effort any less outstanding, unique, or outrageous. "WWZ" takes a scatterplot approach to begin to tell what's happened to the world after the zombie apocalypse has transpired. All accounts are so definitive, so individual as to seem 100% authentic. We get accounts all the way from the very heights of the social echelons (Veep, Ar ...more
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: if you want your brain challenged, then eaten
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
Raeleen Lemay
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Going into this, I knew it wouldn't be full of action. However, I was hoping for a bit more discussion of THE ZOMBIES. I feel like I didn't learn much about the zombies that supposedly overtook the world, and what I did learn made little sense. Near the beginning of the book, somebody mentions how the zombies are extremely fast, and for the rest of the book they're described as being very slow-moving... Okay then.

I was also hoping for more civilian accounts of the zombie war, but unfortunately m
Paul Bryant
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my 15-year old former self
Shelves: novels, verysleazyfun

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
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-kindle, 2013, reviewed

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
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
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Well this didn't go as I expected...
I love post-apocalyptic books. When I learned after watching the movie that there was a book I couldn't wait to read it! Turns out I was bored and had to skim through the last part...
Love the story but hated the format with the "interviews".
Aug 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
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',
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I remember seeing the movie of this and thinking "Youins screwed this up big time." I've heard the story of how this particular plot was decided on and rolled my eyes but I still gave it a chance. I was mostly bored during it.

IMHO, I hope the sequel doesn't ever get made if its gonna be anything like the first one. Worst book adaptation (for me) alongside the *coughPercyJacksoncough* films.

This was a balm after crazy busy or frustrating work nights (and there were quite a few... few of these are
I read this book a few years ago - the Zombie Survival Guide was super-hyped so I wanted to check this followup out as soon as it came out. I love the documentary format. Brooks did so well in telling it in such a way that it really did feel like non-fiction.

One of my favorite parts of the zombie genre is not necessarily the horror and gore, but how the survivors deal with the threat and rebuilding. The before, during, and after stories in this book are raw and real. Because of this, this zombie
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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.
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Zombie Noval Fans I Need Your Help 2 22 Mar 30, 2019 10:19PM  
Mentor Texts: Mentor Texts 1 3 Dec 20, 2018 09:46PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #99 World War Z by Max Brooks 1 1 Nov 10, 2018 09:23AM  
Audiobooks: World War Z - Which Edition? 12 87 Nov 07, 2018 06:29AM  
Mini TV/Web Series 2 7 Aug 18, 2018 08:58AM  
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)
  • Beyond Exile (Day by Day Armageddon,# 2)
  • The Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear the Hunters
  • Fighting to Survive  (As The World Dies, #2)
  • San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats (Newsflesh Trilogy, #0.50)
  • Thunder and Ashes (Morningstar Strain #2)
  • Flesh Eaters (Dead World, #3)
  • The Living Dead 2 (The Living Dead, #2)
  • Zombie Apocalypse! (Zombie Apocalypse, #1)
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.
“Most people don't believe something can happen until it already has. That's not stupidity or weakness, that's just human nature.” 402 likes
“Lies are neither bad nor good. Like a fire they can either keep you warm or burn you to death, depending on how they're used.” 398 likes
More quotes…