Gallaudet University Library Halloween Book Review: World War Z

Uploaded by jimthelibrarian on 04.10.2010

Moo hoo ha ha hee hee ...
You know what October means? Halloween's coming!
Okay, I admit it, this is cheesy with the cheap black background and the hand rubbing and all that.
I get it, but I'm excited because it means this month, I'll do Halloween book reviews,
meaning books related to monsters, ghosts, witches, vampires, and zombies.
I've been reading a lot lately about that last one, zombies.
They were popular a couple years ago, but I'm now catching up with it.
One book I read recently is called "World War Z," or WWZ, "An Oral History of the Zombie War."
So what's an oral history?
In this case, it's a book written in a documentary format,
meaning the writer "interviewed" many people and wrote down those interviews and
put them together to create a continuous story made up of many people's
feelings, experiences, ideas, opinions, and thoughts.
All of that got put together into a single story of what happened.
Apparently, in China, someone died.
And then ...
They weren't dead any more.
They got up and started walking.
It terrorized a small village, until someone got bitten, became infected,
and the infection started to spread.
The Chinese government knew about it but said nothing.
They wouldn't even set up a quarantine because that would mean they were admitting to
the world that something was wrong.
So Chinese people who got bitten would leave the country for medical help,
thereby spreading it further.
You also had refugees spreading the infection westward into Central Asia.
It was pretty bad.
Different countries had different plans to address the spread of zombiism.
For example, South Africa had a specific plan: if one neighborhood was infected with
zombies, they'd destroy it, whether or not there were still healthy people in there.
It was pretty brutal.
Other countries, like Israel, set up a strong quarantine, building a wall to protect the state.
Interestingly, though, they decided to accept anyone fleeing into Israel.
Jewish, Palestinian, Arab, whatever, they were all welcome.
The most important thing was that at the border checkpoint, they had to walk past some dogs.
If the dogs barked, that meant the refugee was infected and was shot.
If the dogs kept quiet, the refugee was allowed to enter the country.
This leads to a very different political situation.
But in the US, it got pretty bad.
It's a big country with big cities and many people, but also large empty spaces
in the interior without many people there.
You could go for days without seeing another person.
This meant it was easy for zombies to come in and hide out, forcing an intensive search.
The book is made up of many interviews, including many experienced military types.
One guy we see fairly often fought in the Battle of Yonkers.
Yonkers is a suburb of New York City, which was very quickly overrun.
Yonkers was the last line of defense, so the government made one last stand with overwhelming force.
Unfortunately, there's only one way to kill a zombie.
The brain and body have to be separated, so only a head shot or decapitation would work.
How do you do that against individual zombies when you're facing a horde of a million or more?
It didn't end well.
As time goes on and people try to survive, families leave for the north, to Canada,
including one family, which settles on the edge of a lake with no zombies around.
They feel safe, but forget one thing: they arrived in the summer.
When winter comes, things go bad very quickly.
You really don't need zombies for some serious atrocity.
The story itself is really about the human response to something that's so far beyond
all experience or knowledge and which is very dangerous,
and our response occurs on an individual level, group level, and societal level.
You do see that there are many ways to respond.
It's very fascinating, and I strongly recommend it. It's a great book.
See you Friday!