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Rise of the Undead: Zombies in Nonfiction

Posted In: Collections, Reviews
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By Anjanette Wiggins

New books about zombies and hordes of the undead seem to appear nearly every week. They are in popular fiction, re-imagined classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, graphic novels, and even children’s literature. Yet, one of the more captivating aspects of the surge in zombie literature is in nonfiction.

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max BrooksMany of the nonfiction books concerning zombies begin with the premise that they are real. Of course, these works tend to be satirical parodies, but they are interesting nevertheless. One of the more popular titles in this fairly new genre is The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. The book is a thoroughly detailed parody of a survival guide, written to help teach readers how to prepare for and weather zombie outbreaks. It even includes a section relating historical accounts of attacks.

World War Z by Max BrooksAfter the success of Zombie Survival Guide, Brooks followed up with World War Z: an Oral History of the Zombie War, a collection of personal accounts from survivors of a worldwide zombie outbreak. Written in memoir style, survivors from various countries recount their experiences of encounters with the undead, and the chaos that ensued. Part of the appeal of World War Z is the intimate feel of the stories; they sound real and believable.

Both of Brooks’ books insert zombies into real historical and political events, a popular trend in this genre. Other books expand on this theme even further.

A Zombie's History of the United States by Worm MillerWorm Miller’s A Zombie’s History of the United States purports to uncover the hidden involvement of zombies in key events of America’s history. Miller analyzes encounters with the undead from a massacre at Plymouth Rock to today’s secret war against development of zombie-related terrorism.

Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel DreznerIn Theories of International Politics and Zombies, Tufts University professor Daniel Drezner examines how various theoretical political systems would respond if zombies appeared and began to attack the living. Among the political entities he discusses are national governments, the United Nations and nongovernment organizations (NGO). Though the purpose of the work is to introduce students to international political theory, it is interesting that he chooses a zombie outbreak as his medium to appeal to readers.

Zombie CSU by Jonathan MaberryJonathan Maberry, author of several works of zombie-focused horror fiction, explains how to detect zombie attacks forensically in Zombie CSU: the Forensics of the Living Dead. The book covers zombie attacks from scientific, psychological and legal viewpoints, and it urges readers to use this information to protect themselves from the undead.

For fans, the current renaissance of zombie literature is an exciting trend. The variety and volume in this growing genre offer something to capture the interest of just about any zombie fan’s taste.


SNAP! I was just thinking about a zombie fiction list for Halloween! I love this non-fiction list!
Posted by: Brian DeLuca at 9/18/2012 3:12 p.m.


It is a fun genre when the books are well-written. This is just a small sample of what's out there. A lot of the earlier works are as survival guides (a la Zombie Survival Guide), but now many are along the lines of Zombie's History of the U.S. (i.e. 'zombies are real and have always been with us').
Posted by: Anjanette Wiggins at 9/18/2012 3:28 p.m.


Great post, and I would like to see a good list of zombie fiction too!

I'll add a couple of my old favorites in a different vein but still zombie nonfiction:

- Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema by Jamie Russell

- The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic by Wade Davis
[ get it from the library: http://pac.epfl.net/uhtbin/cgisirsi/0/0/x/5?searchdata1=0671502476 ]
Posted by: Teresa at 9/18/2012 3:55 p.m.


Nice article! Did you see that the Army was training recently for a Zombie Apocalypse?
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/zombie-apocalypse-training-halo-corp_n_1889724.html>
Posted by: Brian Manning at 9/24/2012 12:26 p.m.


My grandson, Mac Montandon, a born and bred Baltimorean, wrote a book about zombies, "The Proper Care and Feeding of ZOMBIES" published in 2010 by John Wiley & Sons. It should be added to your list.
Posted by: Hilda Stevan at 10/1/2012 3:19 p.m.


@Brian - I did see that the Army has been working on zombie apocalypse training. The CDC did something similar last year.
Posted by: Anjanette at 10/1/2012 3:22 p.m.


We have a local author by the name of Odessa Rose who is currently involved in recreating a zombie nation of her own in fiction. You can follow her story about the walking dead on Twitter.
Posted by: Marilyn Jones at 10/18/2012 1:51 p.m.


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