The imminent zombie apocalypse is an event I have been preparing for from an early age. The one thing I have learnt from the multitude of zombie narratives is that when the dead begin to rise, they rise quickly. Panic and confusion spread like wildfire and therein hides the true horror of a zombie apocalypse. There is no definitive way in which we can prepare ourselves, but considering the amount of zombie survival literature available and the questionable claims of this book, “more than 63% of people now believe that there will be a global zombie apocalypse before 2050”, a little preparative reading can’t hurt.
Being a lover of zombie related literature, I usually devour it with fervor, relishing every gore-ridden paragraph and limb-tearing scene, however, this one had me a bit stumped.
Sean T. Page’s War Against the Walking Dead is not a survival guide. If a survival guide is what you are after then you would be better off with his earlier publication The Official Zombie Handbook UK, which will see you through the initial 90 days following the zombie apocalypse. War Against the Walking Dead is a guide for re-establishing your life following the initial 90 days and moreover, it is a guide on how to reclaim your world from the clutching hands of shambling zombies.
War Against the Walking Dead is essentially a pseudo-historical tome, one that not only asserts that instances of zombieism have been in occurrence since the dawn of time, but that these reported cases have been studied, intermingling the pseudo-historical with pseudo-scientific. Throughout the book the reader encounters a plethora of scientists invested in zombie research and Page details their numerous findings with intricate detail.
The book is separated into 8 parts, each exhibiting Page’s imaginative approach to different aspects of survival.
Part 1 – Know Your Enemy – The Walking Dead
Part 2 – From Survival to Fightback
Part 3 – War Against the Walking Dead – Lessons From History
Part 4 – War Against the Walking Dead
Part 5 – Weapons of the War Against the Walking Dead
Part 6 – Tactics For War Against the Walking Dead
Part 7 – Victory over the Walking Dead
Part 8 – Further Information and Recommended Reading
Part 1 essentially focuses on the science of the walking dead. A wonderfully detailed and well-executed explanation of the transformation from freshly infected to full-blown zombie, which extends to the varying stages of decomposition and the capabilities of the zombie at each of these stages. Chapter 2 of Part 1 sees a group of psychics attempting to read the minds of a few captured zombies. It is an entertaining and eye-opening chapter, which concludes with the supposition that zombies are essentially ‘honest’ creatures…
Page takes a look at an interesting concept called “Meta-Hordes”, a theory that states; “whilst an individual zombie may lack intelligence and any problem-solving ability, where there are groups of say one million or more, this may create some form of group intellect, enabling a horde to operate well beyond the capacity of the individual.” (WAWD, p. 25) A frightful concept which suggests that once the majority of the living population have been consumed, the remaining zombies would essentially find themselves grouping together as they wander the earth looking for surviving flesh. This results in dangerously large hordes of zombies that would rapidly demolish any survivor communities with which they came into contact. War Against the Walking Dead intends to sufficiently prepare its readers, thereby gaining control of the zombie population before the formation of meta-hordes.
This book is not purely scientific. Page elaborately details his suggested methods of forming your own zombie fighting community and considers the challenges said survivor communities will face. These include, apart from the obvious hungry dead: Robber Barons “the most dangerous of vagabonds” (WAWD, p. 62), Army Renegades, God fearing good folks and axe wielding nuts, cannibals, slave traders, feral children and the diseased underclass, to name a few.
Page also includes tactical methodology and weaponry deployment within chapters advising on the best approaches for staging war against the walking dead. These chapters are illustrated with deftly drawn stick figure arrangements of battle plans and blueprints for war at sea and on land with my favourite being the “Highland Charge Against the Walking Dead” (WAWD, p. 192)
What better way to honour any Celtic heritage than to deliver a blistering, full-on Highland charge which will send the ghouls reeling back, their brains bashed and their appetite for human flesh cured? With bagpipes in the background, the Highland charge as a battle tactic, was first documented in the 1600s and involved Highlanders flooding forward in tight formation, typically armed with a two-handed sword or axe. The real objective is to shock and stun the enemy into a panicky retreat, which then enables the charging warriors to cause even greater casualties.(WAWD, p. 191)
The crossover between fact and fiction can be confusing at times. I found the fabrication of historical events to be quite frustrating, especially the claim that the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut was zombiefied so as to extend her reign after falling ill with bone-cancer and the so-called Greek traveller Hippomendes who “reported an audience with the queen around 1420BC- that’s a decade after her supposed death.” (WAWD, p.14) I believe that Page could have created a more believable piece of work had he included real-life historical events, which could have been given a zombiesque twist. Folklore is saturated with instances of rising dead; biblical figures like Lazarus and the Wandering Jew, The flying Dutchman myth, authentic anthropological investigations of voodoo and zombies like Seabrook’s The Magic Island (1929) could have been used in the place of fabricated histories to create a more authentic background to Page’s work.
This book is not light reading and there is not enough “tongue-in-cheek” to keep someone like myself entertained, although I did enjoy a few witty subtitles like, “The danger of bloaters and floaters” and “Rat Wars- The revenge of Darth Rodent”.
War Against the Walking Dead reminds me of a school text book, I would not pick it up for an enjoyable afternoon read but if I ever find myself facing a zombie apocalypse, it is the first thing I would turn to because once you have skipped over the pseudo-historical, pseudo-scientific sections, the chapters on weaponry and war tactics are actually pretty decent and I could see them being quite useful sometime before the year 2050.
In conclusion, while War Against the Walking Dead might not satisfy a zombie lover’s craving for blood, gore and the relentless onslaught of teeth-gnashing, limb-ripping, decomposing revenants: it is a creatively crafted guide displaying the imaginative abilities of its author. Page has clearly put a lot of effort into formulating a historically rich, albeit fictional, zombie history. The pseudo-science displays logical thought and believable case studies, his grasp of war methodology and weaponry deployment is insightful and his advice on community forming: relationships, tasks, and goals within that community, are realistic and inspiring.
War Against the Walking Dead is available for purchase from Amazon.
Sean T. Page is currently working on A Zombie History of Europe and a novel entitled Meta-horde, both due for release later this year. In addition to these, he is working on a short-story collection entitled Cult of the Dead.
You can keep up to date with Page and the Ministry of Zombies by visiting the website: http://ministryofzombies.com/
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