Book Review: World War Z

The Dead are not merely walking. They are running – running our society that is. The first and foremost reason for me to recommend reading „World War Z – An Oral History of the Zombie War“ is how brilliantly it makes the case that we are craving apocalypse. Some of ours leaders are thoroughly devoid of humanity. We are enjoying our ride to hell and we are going to profit from it.

The Dead are not merely walking. They are running – running our society that is. The first and foremost reason for me to recommend reading „World War Z – An Oral History of the Zombie War“ is how brilliantly it makes the case that we are craving apocalypse. Some of ours leaders are thoroughly devoid of humanity. We are enjoying our ride to hell and we are going to profit from it.

Flirting with Disaster

Our actual apocalypse, the sixth extinction, has been going on for millennia. We have industrialized it and keep up exponential acceleration of our dive into doom. Still our real apocalypse is considerably slower than the zombie apocalypse that paints the background of this worthwhile novel. And then there’s the invisible megadeath. Millions of children dying each and every year for no reason, just for not mattering. Zombie children, untouchables barely good enough to to slave away for the coltan in our mobiles, the cotton in our shirts and the fruit on our tables. If „Zombie“ gives you literary creeps and you would not sink as low as to touch some sad excuse for a „novel“ on it, still you should read the section „Blame“ if you happen to get your hands on it.

The small smuggler, middle class assholes, big money, politics, the media: everybody sees perfectly well, how everything is going to hell, even if nobody really understands what’s really going on. Yet, everybody understands there’s a profit to be made and flourishes on our demise. This section, „Blame“,  is probably the best of the book.

But there is much more. The failure of the military to contain the thread because they put up a media show instead of a battle, the US becoming temporarily socialist, Cuba capitalist, Israel locking down, the way Russia becomes a Mullah regime, an Apartheid master mind devising the cruel plan for survival, the subtle psychological difference between a „Robinson Crusoe“ and a „Last Man on Earth“ – the book is full of gems, insightful observations on humans and our societies.

I’m a sucker for words. World war Z is no poetry or outstanding literature. But it is a lot better in this department than your average page turner. It consists of dozens of „interviews“ with eye witnesses. The author successfully emulates several different styles without  overdoing that. It convincingly transports this peculiar way of story telling without bothering the reader with overdone quirks. There is some relation to the epistolary novel but the format is quite unique and perfectly fit to the scope and concept of „World War Z“.

So What?

So great book, read it if you care, but what does all this have to do with this blog? Well, I reached the same conclusions about our society as the author Max Brooks (son of infamous Mel): we are hellbound for apocalypse. Poor Max is an American, though, he really can’t help it. Patriotism with the mother milk, same old song. To speak with Max‘ Mrs. Miller from „World War Z“: „You can blame the politicians, the businessmen, the generals, the ‚machine,‘ but really, if you’re looking to blame someone, blame me. I’m the American system, I’m the machine. That’s the price of living in a democracy; we all gotta take the rap.“

Fuck, no. Maybe that’s the price for living in this convoluted excuse for a democracy, this abomination Americans call a nation. I refuse to believe that the price for freedom is apocalypse. There’s a hell of a lot that we can improve upon. We can be free and still care. We do not need to put all the assholes into power. We do not have to arrange things for people to profit from burning down our world. Hopefully this insight spreads somewhat before doomsday.

Ein Gedanke zu „Book Review: World War Z“

  1. While apocalyptic tales of “survival horror ” date back to the classic I Am Legend of 1954, this genre has recently taken the literary realm by storm. While some best-sellers are legitimately frightening tales of the zombie threat, most books humorously explore the explosion of interest in surviving the zombie apocalypse. Max Brooks, one of the most prolific Zombie Renaissance authors, took the trend to new heights with The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead (2003). By buying this book and any or all of its related products (card deck, day-to-day calendar, mini journal, mini notepads, and the zombie attack survival kit), readers learn how to recognize the enemy, choose the right weapon for defense, and get tips for surviving the onslaught whether bunkering down, on the run, or going for a full-on attack. Readers can study all the major zombie attacks that have occurred since the dawn of humanity in Max Brooks’ follow-up, the graphic novel The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (2009). The website for the book warns readers, “by immersing ourselves in past horror we may yet prevail over the coming outbreak in our time” ( http://www.randomhouse.com ).

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