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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

(World War Z)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  489,611 ratings  ·  27,839 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
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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 on…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)

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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
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook

New week, New BookTube Video - all about the best (and worst) literary apocalypses to live through!
The Written Review


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
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
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
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
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a 2006 zombie apocalyptic horror novel written by American author Max Brooks. 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 up
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
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
So, I've seen the movie several times when it was on TV, and I have to say that I even watched a scene or two a couple of dozen times on Youtube. Yes, the action and visuals are fantastic. (Okay, except the one where the guy tears his own tooth, yuck!)
But after reading the comments where people were angry at the movie, saying that it does not hold a candle to the book, I knew I had to read it.
And yes, I do agree that the only things the movie took from the book were the zombies and Israel build
Sep 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2013, braaains
Hey, I have a booktube channel (youtube for book reviews) and I do video reviews for books like this one, epic fantasy, science fiction, media related to them, and more. Please subscribe here!

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 fo
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
The deadly epidemic started in China. This time it’s ... zombies.

4.5 stars, rounding up because sheer brilliance.

I'm not, generally speaking, a fan of horror fiction in general or zombie tales in particular, but World War Z popped up on my radar so many times that I finally decided to give it a go. (I checked it out from the library; I wasn't going to stick my neck that far out for this book that I'd pay actual money for it.)

Anyway. World War Z takes the quasi-historical documentary approach to
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.
Nov 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
John Wiswell
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, trade-paperback
Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature.
Looking back, I still can't believe how unprofessional the news media was. So much spin, so few hard facts. All those digestible sound bites from an army of 'experts' all contradicting one another, all trying to seem more 'shocking' and 'in-depth' than the last one. It was all so confusing, nobody seemed to know what to do.

I first read this book at least ten years a
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
As in the ironic Zombie survival guide, Brooks uses all possible aspects of a zombie apocalypse, from it´s beginning until how it could end, the sociological, economic and political consequences and each human's individual reaction to it to describe the happenings.

Switching between the interviews, the book gives a new and more personal view on this very prominent topic, avoiding stereotypes and overused tropes and is instead telling it from the points of view of very different people that wouldn
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having just read the most literary of all zombie novels makes one thing quite 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, ...more
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
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
*Updated after rereading. 10/12/20*

This still holds up remarkably well even if I'm not the zombie enthusiast I used to be. I did the Audible version this time and the all-star cast does a fantastic job. The weird thing is that the jumping off point for the American political aspect had that 2006 W. Bush era mindset which seemed kind of dark and cynical at the time, but now seems incredibly naïve and quaint these days. The stuff about how various governments around the world either react swiftly
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".
Paul Bryant

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 S
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
2020 re-read:
Still a comfort read for me, despite everything going on right now. Reason why it took me so long this was I lost my job a couple days after I started this and wasn't in the right frame of mind for it, plus less driving so cutting down on commute.

I would like to see Netflix adapt this as a series, I think they'd do a good job.

*Make sure you go for the unabridged version of the audiobook of this, well worth it*

I even got mom to listen to a few parts with me when we had to go out and
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, reviewed, for-kindle

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
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 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
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
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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.

Other books in the series

World War Z (2 books)
  • World War Z: The Lost Files: A Companion to the Abridged Edition

Articles featuring this book

For as long as people have been telling stories, we’ve spun tales of the monsters and nightmares that lurk in the shadows of our imaginations....
203 likes · 61 comments
“Most people don't believe something can happen until it already has. That's not stupidity or weakness, that's just human nature.” 458 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.” 415 likes
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