Monday, 22 July 2013

World War Z

I haven't seen the film of the same name, but I understand from the interviews with author, Max Brooks, that the film has had the Hollywood treatment and is very different from the structure of the original narrative, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. That said, provide it is less gory horror, I do like an adventure/thriller flick and a reinterpretation of a story is no bad thing. In fact, Max Brook's book itself is inspired by Stud Terkel's The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two and the zombie films by George A. Romero. Alongside reading the book in ePub format on my iPad and on my Android phone (also available here), I've tried listening to the much celebrated audio (abridged) version of the book (it is there on Youtube). The latter, voiced by actors for the various different parts means that I need to be able to have the time to plug in my headphones whilst being pretty close to an Internet connection, which is something that isn't always a possibility, these days.


The book, published in 2006, is a written as a series of first hand accounts in a world with a radically reduced population following an outbreak of a virus with Patient Zero in China over runs the Earth turning humans into the living dead. It goes beyond a traditional horror genre and deals with post-apocalyptic chaos brought on by world-wide panic. Fear of the zombie virus spreading uncontrollably and denial of the extent of the spread of the disease is followed quickly by sudden movements of entire populations and societal breakdown. Most governments can offer little in the way of strategy and are unprepared against zombie attacks and the spread of mass infection. The collapse of social order is explored through a series of individual accounts.

In the book, Max Brooks travels the world, and we learn about the individual personal wars and survival stories of the characters that he interviews. Underlying them is the subtext of how we live today - our political and social identities and how humanity can unite when faced with an adversary within. 

Ultimately World War  World War Z is both cautionary as well as hopeful. We are reminded that evil lurks, waiting restlessly to be unleashed when our structures fall apart. It also reminds us that good simmers below the surface, capable of defending and rebuilding a devastated world.

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