I intend to deconstruct the sillier suggestions of the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, rather than attempt to actually "review" the book. If you want a review, I can tell you this much: I didn't think it was all that funny, just dumb.
Basically, we'll start from the beginning. The "Solanum" virus is, like most fictional diseases, preposterous long before you even get into the whole "turns people into zombies" thing. For one thing, there's absolutely no incubation period for the virus; the host is immediately infected and symptomatic when bitten, and will die and reanimate within 24 hours, with a 100% infection/fatality rate. It doesn't infect any organism other than humans but infected flesh is extremely toxic.
Not even ebola or the bubonic plague act that quickly. While it is not unheard of for diseases to kill within 24 hours of symptoms appearing, they still need an incubation period before symptoms appear, typically 2-6 days in the case of the plague.
Oh, and zombies "saturated" with the Solanum virus hardly decompose, and typically last 3-5 years.
I'm not sure why Brooks thought it was necessary to throw in technobabble about zombies like this. It's not really amusing and eyeroll-inducing to anyone who paid attention in high school health class. Anyway, let's move on. Most of the rest is fluff about zombies and how to identify the real McCoy.
The weapons section starts of sensibly enough. When it starts to get into what weapons to select, though, the author's inexperience starts to show. For example:
The civilian ax can easily crush a zombie's skull, smashing through bone and brain in one swing. Decapitation is equally easy, which is why the ax has been the favored tool of executioners for centuries.
Actually, executioners using axes had to take repeated swings to fully decapitate the prisoner, and this was with the prisoner lying their head on a chopping block, motionless, with gravity on the ax's side. Generally the advice for close combat weapons is solid enough, but if these zombies really existed I wouldn't recommend attempting decapitation. Destroying the brain would be job one, and a lot easier.
He then goes on to primitive weapons, and again, while it's solid for the most part...
These small, multipoint devices were used in feudal Japan to pierce a human skull. In appearance they resemble a steel, two-dimensional replica of a shining star, hence their nickname, "throwing stars."
Brooks has been watching too many ninja films. Shuriken were not killing weapons, being more for distracting the enemy, and in the case of "throwing star" shuriken, would never have the heft to pierce a human skull. this is not the case shuriken were used for abdomen shots and it could take sevral to kill an enmie thats why on naruto they get hit by them but dont die instantly.
6. THE LONG OR COMPOUND BOW
To be blunt, hitting a zombie through the head with an arrow is an extremely difficult feat. Even with compound bows and modern sights, only experienced archers have a chance of making a direct shot.
The firearms section doesn't start off well, classifying the M249 SAW as a "Heavy Machine Gun", and goes on to say that full auto is a useless waste of ammo. While this may be the case, the inaccuracy of his statements set the tone for the chapter. When he gets to "assault rifles," Brooks promptly spouts off every popular myth ever made.
To answer some of these questions, it is best to examine two extreme examples. The U.S. Army M16A1 is considered by many to be the worst assault rifle ever invented. Its overcomplicated mechanism is both difficult to clean and prone to jamming. Adjusting the sight, something that must be done every time a target shifts its range, requires the use of a nail, ballpoint pen, or similar device. What if you didn't have one, or lost it as several dozen zombies shambled steadily toward you? The delicate plastic stock of the M16A1 obviates bayonet use, and by attempting to use it as such you would risk shattering the hollow, spring-loaded stock. This is a critical flaw. If you were confronted by multiple ghouls and your A1 jammed, you would be unable to use it as a last-ditch hand-to-hand weapon. In the 1960s, the M16 (originally the AR-15) was designed for Air Force base security. For political reasons typical of the military-industrial complex (you buy my weapon, you get my vote and my campaign contribution), it was adopted as the principal infantry weapon for the U.S. Army. So poor was its early battle record that during the Vietnam War, communist guerillas refused to take them from dead Americans. The newer M16A2, although somewhat of an improvement, is still regarded as a second-class weapon. If given a choice, emulate the Vietcong and ignore the M16 entirely.
This is so false it is nearly offensive. Brooks has clearly never handled a weapon from the AR-15 family before, and his knowledge of the system probably came from some Geocities page. If you wanna know the real story about the M16, check out this link. As for the Vietcong... you may whant to check out this link and view this photo of a vietcong armed with an m16, and i know that the vietcong looted weapons off of dead bodies for a fact because my grandfather faught in nam.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Soviet AK-47 is considered the best assault rifle ever made. Although heavier than the M16 (10.58 pounds vs. 7 pounds) and possessing considerably harder kick, this weapon is famous for its rugged efficiency and study construction. Its wide, spacious firing mechanism prevents jamming from dirt or sand. In hand-to-hand combat, you could either stab a zombie through the eye socket with the weapon's bayonet or use the solid, steel-backed wooden stock to smash through a zombie's skull. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then several nations have chosen to flatter the AK with either direct copies (Chinese Type 56) or modified designs (Israeli Galil). Again, although the assault rifle is not ideal for defense against the living dead, a member of the AK-47 family will be your best bet.
Usually the same people drinking AR haterade are the same ones masturbating themselves raw for the AK-47, and Max Brooks is no exception. I would say that in a zombie apocalypse situation neither is completely ideal (the AK being heavy with shitty sights and poor balance, while the opportunity to clean an AR may not present itself for some time), but you would be well-served by either.
I should state that Max Brooks only talks about true assault rifles with full auto capability, so he's got that much going for him. But it completely ignores the utility of semi-auto only clones of both the AR-15 and AK-47 families which are widely available to civilians, much more so than the full auto versions.
Brooks goes on about several other weapons types, excessively disparaging towards handguns, and sings incredulous praises of .22LR weapons, repeating the "it zips around inside the skull" myth. While a .22 would certainly be useful in a survival situation, using it in combat against zombies (unless it's suppressed) would certainly not be my Plan A. Having said that, a .22 (especially a Ruger 10/22) would be a reliable and dependable weapon. It just lacks power over distance, and I want consistent skull popping.
Despite starting out recommending avoiding hand to hand against zombies, the book seems to assume that you always WILL be fighting them hand-to-hand and makes clothing/hair recommendations accordingly.
After weapons and protective clothing, the next chapter goes on about defending your house from zombies.
Brooks starts off with some generic advice that can go either way, like not trying to escape the city immediately as the roads will be clogged. Most of it can be taken at face value since it mostly deals with reacting to Brooks' take on zombies. The trouble is, as always, in the details.
Funnily enough, he mentions burglar alarms as being something you shouldn't rely on because in the event of an uprising, there's no guarantee they'll bring help. A rather guarded fact is that in reality, burglar alarms rarely bring help under everyday conditions anyway.
One of the things he constantly harps on about is destroying staircases, complete with an illustration of a man with a fire ax attacking his staircase and working his way backwards up the stairs as he does so.
Yes, this is exactly what I want to do as the shambling hordes approach: Get myself all sweaty and exhausted trying to adequately destroy my staircase, over-commit myself on a swing and go tumbling headfirst into the basement. There are far, far easier ways to render a staircase impassable without risking life and limb. Options will vary, though, depending on the home's layout.
Another bit of advice that's a bit more subjective, but still questionable, is that it recommends living in an apartment building over a private residence, given that they are more easily defensible and provide a larger population to defend the area. Given that he talks of fire escapes and elevators, Brooks clearly has New York style high rises in mind. Of course, why an apartment complex with concrete staircases on the first floor would be preferable (given his penchant for destroying staircases) remains to be explained.
Apartments also bring in a major vulnerability beyond "additional social conflicts": too many hands in the cookie jar. Under survival conditions, without power and surviving on appliances like camper stoves, one family's brief mistake could spell disaster for everyone else.
He then goes on to bring up supplies.
His weapons loadout is largely flawed (500 rounds is actually a very low stock for survival situations, especially for .22s) but we've already gone over why his overall rationale on weapons is bunk, so let's move on.
The equipment/consumables problem poses significant problems, both in terms of storage space and legality. For example, Brooks advocates storing 20 gallons of gasoline. Try explaining to your landlord why you want to keep 20 gallons of HAZMAT in your apartment, in a setting where the existence of zombies is still largely considered myth and covered up by the government.
The book goes on to discuss different types of refuge that one might seek out in a zombie uprising, and finally goes on to recommend the inner city over the suburbs, as the inner city is more likely to be full of buildings full of anti-burglary devices while homes in the suburbs will emphasize aesthetics.
The zombies in this book are caused by the outbreak of a virus. The zombies basically become the virus. Inner cities are the last place you want to go to avoid disease, given the close proximity to other people that one is constantly in. Take a high population density, throw in a virulent disease, and add the fact that its carriers will attempt to aggressively spread the virus, heading into the inner city would be suicide. The only way I can think of it as a good idea is in a post-apocalyptic landscape where everyone's dead or moved on, like in I Am Legend.
The book goes on to detail possible "fortresses" one might claim in the wake of a massive uprising. Though most of them are rather questionable in the details (how does one get to an offshore oil rig under these conditions?) I'll set them aside for now. The next chapter is called "On the Run" and is about surviving while moving from one location to another.
Again, Brooks' spotty research shows. The supplies he suggests taking are largely inadequate (for example, if your primary weapon is a Ruger 10/22, his recommended 50 rounds is just two 25-round magazines). Since he also recommends breaking up into 3-man teams to travel and avoid detection, 150 rounds between three people against an untold number of zombies is certain death. Perversely he advises avoiding urban areas. Remember his recommendation to get into the inner city in an outbreak? Well, I guess it just sucks to be you if you took his advice in the previous chapter, because in this chapter he's telling you you're fucked.
Maybe that's the humor of the book that I haven't managed to find.
Brooks then brings up vehicles with another "Ha ha Americans are fat" intro. I almost get the feeling from reading this section that he doesn't have a driver's license, but whatever. The thing Brooks seems to value most in this context is off-road capability, followed by mileage. His advice is vague, and pretty questionable when it comes to armored cars. He obviously favors going on foot. In fact, one of his points is "Never use four-wheeled vehicles!"
By the time he gets to aircraft, it's downright laughable, and I can only hope that was the intent. I mean, take this bit about blimps:
Airships have been used four times during zombie outbreaks - once for escape, once for study, and twice for search-and-destroy missions. All were resounding successes.
Plus, another inconsistency. Zombies are too stupid to climb ladders and manipulate doorknobs, but...
4. WATCH YOUR ANCHOR LINE!: Too often, people feeling secure in their boat have stopped at night, dropped anchor, and dozed off. Some of these people never awoke. Zombies walking on the bottom can hear a boat approaching as well as the sound of an anchor hitting the mud. Upon finding the chain, they can use it to climb all the way up to your boat. Always leave at least one person on watch for this, and be prepared to cut your line at the first sign of trouble.
I've got a simpler solution: its called an anchor gaurd they were used in ww11 to keep enimeis from climbing abord. basically its just a huge round sheet of metal placed over the anchor tow rope it was proved that it helped alot during the second world war.
The next chapter is called "On the Attack" and, by now, you should already have serious doubts about any combat advice from Max Brooks. The chapter starts off with a set of tips that are for the most part workable but perhaps somewhat unrealistic. Then he goes into your offensive combat loadout:
Primary firearm (rifle or semiautomatic carbine)
Fifty rounds of ammunition
Secondary weapon (preferably a pistol)
Twenty-five rounds of ammunition
This is completely asinine. This is just enough ammunition to harass a group of zombies, not sweep them from an area. And if your primary weapon can't go 50 rounds without needing to be cleaned, you should find another one.
As usual, the rest of the recommended kit is more like a skimpily-outfitted camping trip kit than one suited for combat. There's an extended section for what every group of ten people should have, and although most of it makes sense, some of it is of dubious value (two grappling hooks? Seriously?).
The transportation section is a short blurb that basically undoes the "vehicles are too noisy" whining of the "On the Run" chapter, throwing this in as an advantage since you're hunting the undead, not avoiding them, although it warns not to "become too dependent on your vehicle," whatever that's supposed to mean. It also recommends "removing the rubber from a bicycle's tires" to make noise, too. Yeah, that's what I want to do when surviving the Zombie apocalypse: Ruin the wheels of my only source of transportation.
Brooks then goes on about hunting in different terrain types. The Plains section is my favorite.
Another slight but still potential danger is posed by the odd zombie who may be lying in the tall grass. Undead who have lost their legs or had their spinal columns severed can remain undetected until it is too late. If your team is traveling through tall grass, travel slowly, watch the ground, and listen for any rustling or moans.
They're zombies, Max, not fucking rattlesnakes. If you find one trying to grab your pants, I've got the perfect solution right here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FNCzf20hmA
This is a close-combat nightmare. Sniper rifles and other long-range weapons such as crossbows will be next to useless. Equip your team with carbines and/or shotguns.
I imagine that Carlos Hathcock, if he was still alive, would disagree.
The rest details certain strategies for eliminating zombies. Most seem decently workable, although once you start getting into the underwater hunting section any nitpicks are more with the illustrations and practical uses of certain weapons (do you really want to impale a zombie on a hook, bring him to the surface, and shoot him in the head? I wouldn't want that hook back).
One thing I didn't address in the preceding parts of EWZSG was Max Brooks' section on protective clothing. This was primarily because I didn't really think much of it when I started writing this. But then I realized that some rather significant factors were overlooked.
In minor outbreaks, the advice makes a certain amount of sense: The risk of dying at the hands of another human would still be fairly low, so the main thing is to make sure you don't get bitten. The thing about archaic suits of armor is that they're probably not what most people are going to think of to protect themselves. Authentic plate mail is extremely expensive, after all. Making your own chainmail is actually a fairly popular hobby within certain groups like the SCA, but still, not overly practical depending on the situation.
Given the fact that zombies are caused by a virulent, contagious, infectious disease, it would seem prudent to simply avoid close combat at all costs. Max Brooks says that "severing a limb also brings the possibility of contact with the virus through the exposed area." How about contact with a brain that has been so heavily rotted by a virus, the frontal lobe "melts away?" Can't be healthy.
I know, I mentioned curb-stomping zombies in the Part 3, but that's going with the assumption that smashing zombie skulls is at least somewhat safe, as implied by Brooks' talk of bludgeoning and using blades against zombie heads. If jamming a trench knife's spike down into a zombie's skull won't infect you, a good set of combat boots should serve you well.
So then, what good is a piece of clothing that stops a bite but still lets infected saliva contact the skin? Apparently, being splattered with an exploded zombie's remains are enough to cause an infection, but a zombie's own wounds are no threat to you unless you have open wounds. It's this inconsistency that makes it tough to give reliable advice on the matter. Say you've got a fabric that will take anything a human mouth can give it (which isn't much, humans have a fairly weak bite) and prevent the skin from breaking. Is that enough?
It simply seems that the most prudent course of action is to never get into a situation with zombies where any kind of armor might be desired. This doesn't mean that armor is useless, however.
In your class 3 and 4 outbreaks, with massive devastation and apocalyptic levels of rising dead, the threat from other humans is dramatically increased. Those bulletproof vests and helmets that Brooks describes as being a useless hindrance at best might come in handy. In a situation where panicked survivors may shoot at you, or you may take fire from a band of looters or worse, suddenly Kevlar becomes a lot more attractive.
Remember, we're talking about a massive breakdown in society at this point. The nearest available emergency room may be in the next state. A wound that would be almost trivial by today's standards with air ambulances could quickly be fatal without modern medical attention. While an IBA vest might attract attention, there are many different vests out there that can provide adequate protection without drawing attention to you. If nothing else, it might be handy to have on-hand in defense of your "fortress," or at least stowed and available while on the move.
This is also another reason why Brooks' ammo loadouts are piteously low. It's bad enough dealing with a slow group of idiots who want to bite you, but don't know how to think, maneuver, run, or most importantly, shoot back. Let's say you exceed his recommendations and carry 60 rounds of ammunition for your civilian AK-47 clone, 30 loaded in the magazine, with one fully loaded spare. How long do you think that ammunition's going to last? Even if you spend a few minutes exchanging potshots with looters before they give up and decide to go victimize someone else, congratulations: You've just expended half your ammunition in a very noisy exchange. If zombies can hear moans from far away, how many do you think THAT'S going to attract? And now you're down to your last magazine already.
Already the situation's looking grim, but it gets worse: as the adrenaline fades, you notice that breathing feels odd, and start to feel pain in your chest and discover that one of the punks got lucky with a .22. You're the new owner of a sucking chest wound! This is a life-threatening injury at the best of times, but now you've got the added perks of being on foot, up to hundreds of miles away from medical attention, with at least dozens of ravenous hostiles approaching, and just 30 rounds of ammunition for your rifle. You also have your sidearm and a spare magazine for it, but does that really even the odds as the wound really begins to catch up with you?
Don't discount the value of armor and ammo.
That wound up being a lot longer than intended.
i hope you see my point as to why max brooks is not a pluthera of zombie knowledge nor weapon knowledge. dont belive everything in a book pepole can write anything on paper that doesnt mean you have to belive it. and it dosnt mean it is true.