This is Part III of a series titled ‘A Decade of Zombies.’ Part II is here.
Perhaps the canon of modern day zombie subculture would be two works of literature by Max Brooks (Mel Brooks’ son). In 2003 he released the Zombie Survival Guide (a copy of which I keep in the glove compartment of my car) and later on, a more epic World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006 // big screen in 2010).
In World War Z, Brooks takes on the role of a post-apocalyptic UN agent trying to piece together the memorials of key players in the third world war. This was a war not waged against other countries for treaties or for politics, but a war against the spreading zombie infection brought about by a virus called Solanum. Beneath the surface however the book holds undertones to the unpreparedness of civilization to cope with a world where politics, economics, and technology fall at an instant. “How do you defeat an army that knows no fear?” he says.
Brooks’ answer is retroactively his first book. The Zombie Survival Guide is a detailed step by step to preparing for the inevitable outbreak. It lists weapons, apparel, locations and strategies on how to defend yourself from a zombie attack. The guide is divided into six chapters, teaching you how to stock, run, defend and survive in a doomsday scenario where all man-made institutions have crumbled. It had been so well written as a survival guide that I actually found a copy under the “wilderness survival” and “travel” sections of bigger book stores.
What Brooks brought into the picture was the authenticity of an impending attack. The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z are written with such conviction and authenticity similar to the War of the Worlds (1938) radio play by Orson Wells that caused a public stir, yet was actually a Halloween practical joke.