#tbt review: World War Z by Max Brooks

2013-03-12-worldwarz_audiobookThis review originally appeared in the Times Union on Jan. 2, 2007, long before the Brad Pitt movie came out.

“World War Z,” by Max Brooks. Read by a full cast. Abridged, 6 hours. Random House Audio. $29.95.

The stellar cast includes Alan Alda, Carl Reiner, Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins, John Turturro, Rob Reiner and Brooks as the one compiling interviews with survivors of a worldwide war between zombies and humans.

While the variety of locales — China, Israel, South Africa, Canada, the United States, Cuba, Chile, Finland, Greenland, Barbados, Japan — puts to shame any James Bond story, the book lacks suspense.

Instead, it has realism to emphasize how the zombie wars upend how people live and what they hold sacred.

The best example occurs in South Africa, where a dreaded apartheid-era figure comes up with a plan to save the country by sacrificing parts of the population. Though most of the politicians are aghast, they accept it once the unnamed but recognizable Nelson Mandela figure approves.

The performances emphasize this human quality of physical and psychological struggle.

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