Besides humanity itself, ignorance has always been the greatest threat challenging our existence. Human race have proven tremendous capacity in studying and reforming their living conditions, when they are willing to do so - which is, sad to say, not always the case. The Black Plague killed an estimated 25 to 50 million people in Europe, and instead of the contagion-carrying rats, Jews were falsely accused and massacred. Imprudence and brutality almost pushed mankind over the edge of extinction, but we still won’t take the lesson. Six centuries later, thanks to systematical negligence or organized cover-up, we are now haunted by a far more contagious and violent plague waiting to happen. The living dead is walking among us, without your even knowing it. History data and numerous recent eyewitnesses have strongly indicated that zombie, the most hyped and least warned predator, is posing a very realistic danger to us. Tragically, the common public are so comfortably numb laughing at ill-logical, irresponsible Hollywood productions such as Shawn of the Dead, that they consistently fail to respond properly before getting devoured and joining the rank of their attackers. Nevertheless, for the few who refuse to turn a blind eye to the obvious, here is your bliss: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, a research-based, meticulous, user-friendly field manual that saves your life in times of the unthinkable, compiled by Max Brooks.
Max Brooks has worked briefly as a writer of Saturday Night Live in NBC network, where he was believingly exposed to confidential materials related to a ‘civil disturbance’ in 2002 upon which an suspicious press blackout was imposed by Bush administration. Having revealed the startling nature of that incident, Brooks resigned in 2003 from the show-business and started to work a more meaning job as a touring zombie-survival educator. He is also the author of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, a Nostradamusian masterpiece of the post-apocalyptic world.
In Brooks’ words, the primary task of survival is always to know what you are going to survive, and that’s why this Survival Guide starts with a vivid, hour-by-hour description of symptoms torturing a victim infected by Solanum, a.k.a. the zombie virus, which kills and reanimates him within 24 hours. The physiologic and physical traits of the reanimated dead, such as its senses, strength and speed, hunting behaviors and social dynamics, are comprehensively covered. Slow and dumb as advertised, the living dead are formidable opponents due to their immunity from fear, fatigue, poor leadership or internal struggle for power, not to mention their unaltered thirst for human flesh. Worse yet, should a zombie outbreak emerge, the media would predictably remain silent, for reasons civilians will have little chance ever to know, until the situation goes out of hand. To address the menace of information suppression, the manual specifically points out the hints to watch for possible zombie uprising, and how to estimate the scale of the outbreak to respond accordingly.
It should always be kept in mind that the unconventional enemy requires unconventional strategies, tactics and techniques to overcome. However, in the heat of the chaos, even the most battle-hardened soldier may fail to think rationally, and he could easily fall prey to his unfitting second nature, which was painstakingly developed for fighting against the flesh-and-blood human beings, instead of the undead ones. The Survival Guide may save an uncountable number of lives by filling this terrifying void of human knowledge with detailed, methodic case-by-case analyses on crucial issues against the living dead, such as the choice of weapons, essential equipments and supplies, securing and defending various types of buildings, obtaining vehicles for escape and safety concerns suggested by different terrain types.
Take weaponry for example, the Survival Guide persuasively explains why a single headshot from a level-action rifle is always the better combat pattern against zombies, instead of the metal storm blazed from paramilitary death-machine. The manual then help the readers sort out the pros and cons of every accessible lethal device, melee and ranged alike, in hypothetical context of having multiple rotten, moaning undead faces approaching. “Chainsaws and similar powered devices rank extremely low on the list of practical zombie-killing weapons….Once drained, they provide as much protection as a hand-held stereo.” “If you are cornered, or on the run, and need time to escape, a good shotgun blast can send several zombies sprawling.” Unambiguous, trustworthy statements like these are going to make the critical difference between life and death, and an ample amount of similar how-to instructions are included in the book for you to make it out alive.
Well-informed with practical know-hows about staying alive, staying mobile, contacting with each other, and even counter-attacking and finally claiming the victory of humanity, the readers are invited in the ending chapter to ponder on the ultimate worst-case scenario – the zombie doomsday. When the undead have substituted human as the planet’s dominating species, the undetermined mind will eventually destroy itself in despair, the unprepared refugee will inevitably fall capture of either the undead or end-of-civilization thugs. Living in the undead world, Brooks predicts, takes more than building a human colony on a new planet, and the hardship has to be endured goes beyond our imagination. That perspective is terrifying, but not desperate. Safe house is not available, so you have to create your own. There are unforgiving rules to follow, tedious work to be done, harsh days to go through, but Mr. Brooks promises us hope, at the end of all the labors and suffering.
Although labeled as ‘Humor’ to reconcile with the censorship, The Zombie Survival Guide is indeed a milestone of our endangered civilization that commands to be treated with full seriousness. Reassuringly, we have seen Max Brooks a few times on New York Times Bestseller rankings during the last few years, indicating the growing public awareness of the pending peril. The zombies may be gone, but the threat lives on. Pick up the book, join your fellow citizens, and help protect our race from the living dead - the greatest foe our history has ever seen.