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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War | [Max Brooks]

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

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 30 million souls, to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet.
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Publisher's Summary

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 30 million souls, to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet.

He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the 12-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

©2006 Max Brooks; (P)2006 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Winner of Audio Publishers Association 2007 Audie Award, Multi-Voiced Performance
  • Audie Award Finalist, Audiobook of the Year, 2007

"Hard to put down." (Publishers Weekly)
"A literate, ironic, strangely tasty treat." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Horror fans won't be disappointed: like George Romero's Dead trilogy, World War Z is another milestone in the zombie mythos." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (5375 )
5 star
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4.5 (3632 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Steve minneapolis, MN, USA 09-21-06
    Steve minneapolis, MN, USA 09-21-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good but Too Short!"

    I listen to tons of audiobooks and I found this one to be very entertaining and well done. The ensemble cast was vital to making the tale believable. The author's spin on the military, social and economic response to, and recovery from, a worldwide plague of zombies should be adopted as our manual "just in case." Of course, I am a sucker for stories that present a believable, real-world response to a completely fictional scenario. Film-wise it's more "28 Days" than "Land of the Dead."
    My only complaint is the abridged format. Abridged audiobooks should be banned by the United Nations.

    137 of 139 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Huntington Seattle, WA USA 01-04-07
    J. Huntington Seattle, WA USA 01-04-07 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant production, criminally abridged"

    World War Z is a fantastic book. Brilliant. Hugely entertaining, intelligently speculative, and with just enough of the Brooks flavor of horror and comedy, it's one of the best things I've read in a long time.
    This is also a fantastic production. It couldn't help but be good with an all-star cast performing a book that was practically made to be an audiobook, consisting as it does of a series of interviews with various people from around the world. As a listen, it was a non-stop thrill.

    So why rate it only three stars? Because it's abridged.

    Setting aside my personal distaste for the very idea of abridging a book, chopping up World War Z is practically criminal; excising entire important storylines, like the fall of Russia and the rise of the Holy Russian Empire, reduces the plot from a global faux-history of the world changing, to a typically American comedy-horror zombie story where the good guys win and the world goes back to normal.

    As well, had this book been left full length, there would have been substantially more of it to enjoy. As it is, I felt cheated, teased, deprived when it ended after less than seven hours.

    So that's my take: it's a shame that it's only available abridged, because what little of it there is is fantastic. I recommend reading the book, and THEN listening to the audiobook, so that you get the full story as well as the excellent production. I also hope that sooner or later there might be an unabridged audiobook.

    80 of 81 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine lafayette, OR, United States 11-17-08
    Catherine lafayette, OR, United States 11-17-08
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    "needs to be unabridged"

    i think it misses out on alot of crucial points because it is abridged... i think that they need to do an unabridged version of the book. i was really disappointed with the abridged version.

    119 of 122 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew A. 12-20-08
    Andrew A. 12-20-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Great audio book, but..."

    This is a wonderful experience for an audio book, but it needs to be unabridged. I can't think of a reason to truncate this story. One other thing; I wish there was more detail in this book. The cast is great especially, Alan Alda's part. It's worth getting the book just to listen to that. I rate 4 stars. I reserve the 5th star for the unabridged version. Enjoy everyone.

    54 of 55 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Naka VA 07-03-12
    Mike Naka VA 07-03-12 Member Since 2012

    Avid Zombie fan who's starting to listen to more and more Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories. So, my description is apt to change. Dog lover who's known to have cats. LOL C# coder, part-time prepper, B movie fan, AMC watcher, recovering but successful day trader, perpetual student, overjoyed uncle, former adrenaline junkie with a flare for cooking, and lots more. LOL

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "left me wishing it was unabridged"
    Any additional comments?

    there's a little of everything- the inception of the virus, a spy's report, family conflict, lone survival, panic, disastrous military planning, fleeing for your like, politics, and THE PLAN, which is chilling but totally believable.

    the different characters and their stories weave together a highly enjoyable ride. i really liked how you see the zombie apocalypse from different perspectives from doctor to intel agent to a downed pilot to infantry to radical muslim to disgruntled celebrity bodyguard. each character's memory, story, and experience is unique.

    i could definitely see governments around the world acting in the manners portrayed- survival of the species can make you do horrible, but understandable, things.

    the production is amazing! the different voice actors bring a sense of realism to the story.

    i thoroughly enjoyed world war z. it left me wanting more, to hear more accounts of survival. alas as soon as it began, it was over. it was a rather short audiobook. i didn't read the book, but i feel as though i must b/c as many others have said, the audio book has left out a lot.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jun Sun Irvine, CA, USA 09-22-06
    Jun Sun Irvine, CA, USA 09-22-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
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    "love it"

    I loved it! Best book I got to this year. I almost did not get this book to do to some comment about it having a political agenda. It talks about political stuff as all war stories do but to say it has an agenda it is misleading. I am just glad that I did not listen to that person and got the book. It is entertainment leave your real world at the door and enjoy the show. If you can't there is always the kid sections.

    45 of 48 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miciah Glendale, AZ, USA 02-14-07
    Miciah Glendale, AZ, USA 02-14-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing Book, Amazing Audiobook"

    This is by far the best audio recreation of a novel I've ever heard. A star-studded cast, including known stars like Alan Alda, Mark Hamil and John Turturro (though you'll be hard pressed to hear where he comes in because his accent is so good!), along with some excellent "unknown" voice actors, create one of the finest audiobooks I've heard!

    The nature of the "oral history" documentary of World War Z lends itself well to the audiobook format, and the acting is so real and believable that you can actually imagine you're hearing first-hand accounts in a real documentary.

    As for the book itself, masterfully done. I expected gore, zombies and suspense, but was treated to something altogether different and more interesting. Though you will find some of the carnage and excitement you might expect with any zombie-related book, Max Brooks focuses more on the socioeconomic events that occurred as a result of the Zombie War. It is because he chooses to treat it more as a true-to-life documentary, wherein you hear many different stories from all different parts of the globe and walks of life, that the story is absolutely believable. You can share in the real tragedies and victories, despairs and hopes of an entire world population which must come to grips with a nightmare-come-true!

    And in the end, World War Z has a very satisfying basic moral theme: when it comes down to it, humans are humans--no matter your race or skin color--and if you've got a heartbeat, you're one of us.

    World War Z is a must-read (or -hear)!

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 05-26-08
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 05-26-08 Member Since 2007

    I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)

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    "A Fictious "nonfiction""

    The book, obviously, is fiction but it is read and presented as if it was non-fiction, and this is done very well. If one didn't know better (i.e. one was from off-planet), it would seem as though these events really did happen, which makes it pretty interesting.

    The reading is very well done - engaging and lively. I didn't realize the story was abridged (never heard of it before seeing it here on Audible) but I can see how whole sections might have been cut out as each "interview" stands alone so there's no way to know what was left out. I don't think the abridgment is bad though because I don't feel like I missed something, and as it was, parts of the story were a bit slow (some of the individual's stories were much more interesting than others). If someone hadn't told me it was abridged, I don't think I'd have known.

    It is definitely worth a credit. I'd have given it 5 stars except, as I said, there a a couple parts (mainly the politicians I guess) where the "interviews" weren't as interesting as some others. The concept (fiction presented as reality) is different and enjoyable.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly Modesto, CA, United States 09-01-09
    Holly Modesto, CA, United States 09-01-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Ugh - feel robbed"

    Not that I didn't love the book. I really did. Unfortunately I didn't realize that it was abridged. I suppose that is my own fault, but if you are thinking of buying be sure you know that your only buying about half of the book.

    Feeling robbed,
    Holly

    54 of 61 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ingwe Washington, DC, United States 04-03-13
    Ingwe Washington, DC, United States 04-03-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Not so much a story per say..."
    Any additional comments?

    Good:
    1 - Totally didn't expect to like a "zombie" book but this author had a great take on that genre.
    2 - I appreciated the detail and research that went into presenting this book from many different cultural and diverse locations
    3 - Interesting style to present the "story" as a series of interviews - not an easy medium to do well but I liked the way this occured.

    Bad:
    A few things rung "untrue" for me - like the guy during an exodus carrying a PC desktop monitor. A small nit to be sure but really took me to that place of "unbelievability"

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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