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The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, written by American author Max Brooks (son of director, producer and actor Mel Brooks) and published in 2003, is a survival guide dealing with the necessary steps for safe-guarding yourself against a potential zombie attack. It contains comprehensive plans for the average Joe to survive zombie attacks of all different kinds. The Zombie Survival Guide has topped 1 million copies in print. Brooks, a former writer on Saturday Night Live, was inspired to write The Zombie Survival Guide after the Y2K scare. “I wrote The Zombie Survival Guide for me, stuck it in a drawer for a while, and never imagined it would be published, let alone be this successful. I think its longevity is due largely to its realistic tone. Take out the zombies and it is still a general disaster survival guide.” With an initial order of just 18,000 copies, The Zombie Survival Guide has gone on to be one of Three Rivers Press’ most successful back-list titles and has been published in 18 other countries.
Truly this book contains a monumental amount of accurate, useful information that could easily translate into a survival guide for a multitude of types of disasters. I’m not going to lie; this book is pretty much the closest thing I have to a bible. I’m not going to start praying to Brooks, I wouldn’t impose like that, but he’s on my list of top people I want in my survival group when the time comes (note that I said “when” and not “if”). Everyone should own this book. Screw the boy scouts handbook, The Zombie Survival Guide will teach you things that would make the boy scouts pee their pantaloons. This book is integral to the collection of any type of zombie fan, whether you’re just zombie-curious or a full-on aficionado. I think that this book would also appeal to survivalists and weapons and combat enthusiasts. Although it sometimes reads like a text book there are subtle hints of humor and it’s so well thought out that it’s very enjoyable to read.
The guide is broken down into 7 brilliant sections. As I moved on from chapter to chapter I kept finding myself going “Huh, that’s a good idea. I never would have thought of that.” and the more I read the more educated and prepared I felt for any type of impending doom. Knowledge is power kiddies, you better believe it.
THE UNDEAD: MYTHS AND REALITIES – This section covers the basics of zombies. The virus that started it all (Solanum), symptoms of the virus, transference, cross-species infection, treatment (suicide or amputation of the bitten/scratched limb, though amputation rarely works), attributes of zombies and classifications of types of outbreaks. If you don’t know this stuff, you’re screwed. Learning the difference between voodoo zombies and those infected with the Solanum virus was my favorite part.
WEAPONS AND COMBAT TECHNIQUES – Everything you need to know, every weapon you need to get and all the “dos and don’t s” of combat with zombies are covered in this section. General rules are included along with detailed sections on close combat, slings and arrows, firearms, explosives, fire (blowtorches and flamethrowers!), armor and other weapons. Yes, this is the fun section. The M1 carbine and the machete, as portrayed on the cover of the book, as well as the crowbar, Samurai Katana, and Shaolin Spade, receive the strongest recommendation.
ON THE DEFENSE – Time to protect your happy home. How to prepare, barricade and setup long-term residence when your best choice is to cuddle up with your twelve-gauge shotgun and stay inside. This section is broken down into 3 parts, the “Private Residence”, “Public Spaces” and “The Fortress”. Each section details how to setup different types of structures (the pros and cons of each are thoroughly discussed) and make the best of what you have. Wouldn’t we all like to be barricaded in a military complex or a well-stocked offshore oil rig when the shit goes down???
ON THE RUN – What to do when you’re out and about, so to speak. General rules and important tips are established for being on the run including: establishing a destination, gathering intelligence, getting in shape (ugh), notes on why you should avoid larger groups, the necessity of training your group, reasons to remain mobile and invisible, learning to be observant, the importance of sleep and why you should avoid urban areas. There are 3 detailed sections on equipment which help the reader to analyze the best types of vehicles for the situation, how to survive in different climates and terrains and how to proceed if you find yourself traveling by air or water.
ON THE ATTACK – When it’s a smart time to start killing zombies for the purpose of getting rid of them (not just in self-defense) this is the section to read. Rules, rules, rules and details galore. There is a delicate balance between knowing when to defend and when to attack. You better know or you’ll join the ranks of the undead quicker than you can say “ZombiesDrule.com is my favorite site for everything zombie!” General rules include: keep discipline, be alert, have a base, have support, use daylight, plan your escape, let them come to you, be thorough, maintain communication, dispose of all bodies and never EVER go off alone. It’s scary situation rule #1, if you take off on your own and say, “I’ll be right back” you’re as good as gone. Everybody knows that, right? The how and why of everything combat-related is discussed and specific strategies are explained in great detail. So pay attention.
LIVING IN AN UNDEAD WORLD – Sigh, starting over. It’s time to deal with this emotionally, just let it out and have a good cry. Wait, you don’t have time to cry. You need to get it together! You’ve got to assemble a group, train yourself on how to survive in this new world without your precious luxuries (bye-bye Xbox, Playstation and Wii), learn to defend yourself and your home and most important be on guard AT ALL TIMES! If you’re planning for long term survival this means you’ve survived what could be the worst of it but now is the toughest part mentally. Continuing on with life, a very different life. Is it worth it? Can you do it? I found this section to invoke the most introspection and it made me feel a bit sad. I kept thinking about all the wonderful little things about daily life that we could lose to the zombie apocalypse. But, I wouldn’t have to go to work every week so….tough call.
RECORDED ATTACKS – Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. This section is full of summarized accounts of recorded attacks throughout history. What can we learn from these attacks? Are the zombies evolving? From 60,000 B.C. in Central Africa to 2002 A.D. in the Virgin Islands of the US, these attacks can tell us a great deal about what to do and most importantly what not to do. These accounts don’t read like bedtime stories so don’t expect it, but they are interesting nonetheless. Don’t skip this last chapter, it’s worth the read.
The appendix contains a sample “Outbreak Journal”, with the author noting a covered-up zombie outbreak being seen on the local news and the preparation steps he takes in the event that the outbreak worsens. The following pages are blank entries, for the reader to use as a basis for their own notes on surviving zombies. Super cute, right?
The success of The Zombie Survival Guide has inspired other books and zombie-related products. The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks, a tie-in graphic novel written by Brooks and illustrated by Brazilian artist Ibraim Roberson, has been published portraying some of the recorded attacks written about in The Zombie Survival Guide. It’s gory and pretty awesome. And, for those of you interested in a quick study, a set of flash cards based on The Zombie Survival Guide have been created. Brooks went on to pen World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, a zombie post-apocalyptic horror novel. World War Z was turned into an audio-book in 2007 and the film rights bought by Brad Pitt’s film company Plan B Entertainment. Since 2007 rumors have been swirling as to the state of the film. Some saying the script is being entirely re-written and the initial director being replaced. The film is said to be largely based on the rules and information laid out by The Zombie Survival Guide. Either way, I’m psyched about this film as World War Z is one of my favorite books.
What should you take away from this review? The Zombie Survival Guide is a must-have, must-read book and could save your life. Haven’t learned your lesson? Check out the Top 10 Lessons for Surviving A Zombie Attack from The Zombie Survival Guide and/or check out the official website HERE.
Organize before they rise!
They feel no fear, why should you?
Use your head: cut off theirs.
Blades don’t need reloading.
Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
No place is safe, only safer.
The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.
Just like Max Brooks, this reviewer lives in a big city but is ready to move to a more remote and defensible location at a moment’s notice.
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