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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War


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I do not like zombie movies generally.  My best friend loves "The Walking Dead," but I couldn't even watch the first episode. But she assured me that the movie, "World War Z," was not as gross.  She thought I would like it and might like the book even more.  My son was dying to watch the movie with me and so we did.  And I liked it.  But I understood the book was very different, so I read it, too.

 

In the book, an interviewer (never identified) goes all over the world to talk to various survivors of the Zombie Wars.  The zombies are a result of a virus, but the only way the virus is transmitted is by direct contact with the body of a zombie.  In that way, it sounds like an extremely lethal STD, with the exception that the victims don't actually die.  They "live" to spread the virus, which means that it spreads all over the world very rapidly.  One of the issues the book explores is how different countries respond to the threat and how long it takes them to really believe it is happening.  

 

Another issue was the toll that war takes on those who participate in it, not just the people fighting, but also the people who have to plan for how to respond.  Because those people have to make some extremely tough decisions about who is left at risk and who is protected and why.  

 

The problem, I think, is one common to oral histories.  Each story seemed more like a short story without a very thin connection to the other stories.  It felt like a book that should be read in connection with a more straightforward accounting of these wars, so you could fit each person's mini-story into the overall whole.  The author did a good job with the stories, so, as I say, I think this is just the nature of oral histories.    But I did understand why the movie was so different from the book.  The movie actually has a plot. Once I abandoned any desire for a plot in the book and embraced the book for what it was, I liked it more.  

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