The cover to The Zombie Survival Guide

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead, published in 2003, is a fictional survival manual that deals with the potentiality of an undead attack. Its author, Max Brooks, lays out detailed plans for the average citizen to survive zombie uprisings of varying intensity.


The book is divided up into seven separate chapters, plus an appendix. The first chapter is entitled Myths and Realities and lays down the specific ground rules that are referenced repeatedly in the book. The most important of these describes Solanum, the virus that creates zombies, along with how it is spread, treatment of the infected, and why the zombie infection does not spread to non-human creatures.

The second chapter is entitled Weapons and Combat Techniques and discusses the weapons at the reader's disposal, and weighs them against the various threats that may be faced during confrontations with the undead. The third chapter entitled On the Defensive looks at options for individual to stay in a stationary location.  It focuses on remaining stationary in an undead ambush. This is followed by a chapter entitled On the Run which explores dealing with attacks while traveling.

While chapters three and four emphasize avoiding the undead, chapter five, On the Attack, is specifically about engaging ghouls to ensure their destruction.

The final chapter looks at survival during a doomsday scenario, a Class-4 outbreak would see battle for humanity's survival shift in the zombies' favor, much like the zombie-infested world that can be observed in Land of the Dead. Advice for this section is adapted from previous sections; recommendations for surviving a siege is repeated, though altered for relevancy to the long-term entrenchment a Class-4 outbreak represents.

The guide concludes with a fictional list of documented zombie encounters throughout history, including a zombie Cossack, victim of an outbreak that happened 415 years prior, which was described in another entry. The oldest entry is 60,000 BC, in Katanda, Central Africa, although the author expresses doubt to its validity. Instead, he presents evidence from 3000 BC in Hieraconpolis, Egypt as the first verifiable instance of a zombie outbreak. The most recent entry is 2002 A.D., St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The Appendix takes the form of a sample "Outbreak Journal," with the fictional author noting a covered-up zombie outbreak being seen on the local news. The following pages are blank entries, presumably for the reader to use as a basis for their own journal; their inclusion furthers the overall feel that the book is a survival guide to a real life-threatening possibility. 


The guide attributes the zombie outbreaks described to the virus "Solanum" (not to be confused with the plant genus). The virus is said to be neither waterborne or airborne; the only way to become infected is through direct fluidic contact, in which context the virus is 100% communicable, with a 100% mortality rate. 

Cultural appeal[]

As a primarily niche-oriented piece of facts, The Zombie Survival Guide appeals largely to one group:

Serious fans[]

While examining the menace that zombies represent in great detail, from the biological makeup of a zombie to anti-zombie tactics in different strategic situations, the book never alludes to considering its subject as anything less than a real, plausible threat to mankind.Throughout the book, unnamed "research" is cited as the backup for most arguments, though individual events (as listed in the Recorded Attacks chapter) are also cited where relevant. The reader is frequently warned that the advice is ignored at the reader's own peril, with the end result of "cold hands gripping your arm and dirty, worn teeth biting into your flesh," supposedly being a very real possibility. [1]

See also[]

External links[]

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead
Max Brooks | Solanum | Zombies | Outbreaks | Recorded Attacks