Are you ready for zombies?

If you add only one volume to your 21st-century-survival library this year, make sure it’s “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks.

This indispensable volume tells the layperson everything he – or she – needs to know to survive an unexpected zombie infestation – from a handful of the undead to a horde of hungry ghouls lurching and moaning across the countryside.


“The Zombie Survival Guide” (2003, Three Rivers Press, New York, N.Y., $12.95, 256 Pages) covers everything from optimum anti-zombie weaponry to armor, tactics and documented zombie outbreaks.

Author Brooks is a no-nonsense tactician who scoffs at those who would attribute the existence of zombies to voodoo or the supernatural.

Zombies, he asserts, are created by a particularly tenacious virus that’s invariably fatal, incurable and capable of re-animating its victims with alarming results for the unwary.

But not to worry, amigos.

With the right armament, attitude and knowledge, one can defeat zombies.

They’re undead, not unbeatable.

The right kind of weaponry, Brooks says, is critically important to handling zombie outbreaks.

“Hand-to-hand combat should almost always be avoided,” Brooks cautions.

Well, duh…Instead, try for a solid head shot with an ax handle, lead pipe or crowbar. Even better, go into battle with an edged weapon – an ax, sword or the utilitarian machete.The Shaolin spade, Brooks adds, is another good choice, although it’s length makes it somewhat impractical for indoor combat.

Hey, how about power tools, like a chain saw?

Not a good idea, Brooks cautions.

“Chainsaws and similar powered devices rank extremely low on the list of practical zombie-killing weapons. For starters, their fuel supply is limited. Once drained, they provide as much protection as a hand-held stereo.

“Handguns, he adds, can be effective, but should not be considered one’s primary weapon when taking on a zombie.

“Never forget that many dismembered, half-eaten corpses have been discovered with these weapons still clutched in their cold, dead hands.

“Uh-huh…When it comes to firearms, Brooks gives high points to the reliable M1 carbine – “Its light weight and short muzzle perfectly suit this weapon to indoor combat or long journeys on foot.”

Of course, dealing with zombie outbreaks entails a lot more than arming oneself. You’ve got to know the tactics of surviving in zombie territory.

“Remain invisible,” Brooks recommends. “Other than speed, your next closest ally will be stealth. Like a mouse trying to crawl through a nest of snakes, you must do everything possible to avoid detection … fight only when you have to. Delays brought on by battle will serve only to draw more zombies.”

Great advice but, you might ask, just who is this Max Brooks?

Unfortunately, “The Zombie Survival Guide” gives few clues, possibly for Brooks’ own protection. The book states only that the author “lives in New York City but is ready to move to a more remote and defensible location at a moment’s notice.”

Sounds like Max is ready for trouble – are you?

Originally published January 18, 2004