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madbkwm

madbkwm

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks I thought this book was fabulous. Obviously it is a take off of Studs Terkel's book on WWII, but Brooks does it so well.

He never tells us the story of the war, instead he gives us the pieces of these "interviews" and assumes that we know the general history. As a reader who frequently complains that authors tell too much, I found this to be wonderful. We can figure out that the first "infection" was in China and that the spread began with organ donation. We see that the media spread of the events in South Africa led to the erroneous label of "African rabies". It really is easy to figure it all out and great to watch in unfold.

I was amazed and Brooks' cleverness; he doesn't forget to give us the story of the underwater battle (including interviews with the divers); he doesn't forget to tell us what happens aboard the international space station.

Some reviewers have complained that the voices were all similar. I would argue that they were not similar. There were certainly categories (soldier, administrator, normal citizen) and the tone among these groups was similar (as to be expected), but I think the entrepreneurs and the soldiers (for example) were VERY different.

I think my favorite part of the book was Brooks' commentary about current American lifestyle: all of his backhanded insults about our consumeristic, materialistic, individualistic ways of being: "I never realized how good we had it before the war, tucked away in my little Stepford suburbistan. Did I really need a three-thousand-square-foot house, three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen living room, den, and home office?"

Along with this, what is up with all the Starbucks references? He mentions WalMart once, but Starbucks gets at least 10 mentions; did they pay for this advertising?

My biggest complaint was that Brooks was a bit too "rah-rah" American for my taste. With the exception of the failed battle at Younkers, he presents the Americans as doing almost everything right and the Russians and Chinese as failing miserably. The Japanese are just cowards (they evacuate the entire country except for one old blind ninja-like sensei). I guess I liked that Cuba came out ahead.

I also liked the idea that this was a global war against a common enemy and the creation of the new in-group (humans) vs. the outgroup (zombies) was a bonding experience internationally.

Overall entertaining with great commentary on current American society and compelling read.