The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

by Max Brooks

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From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, World War ZThe Zombie Survival Guide is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now.

Fully illustrated and exhaustively comprehensive, this book covers everything you need to know, including how to understand zombie physiology and behavior, the most effective defense tactics and weaponry, ways to outfit your home for a long siege, and how to survive and adapt in any territory or terrain.

Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack

1. Organize before they rise!
2. They feel no fear, why should you?
3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
4. Blades don’t need reloading.
5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9. No place is safe, only safer.
10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.

Don’t be carefree and foolish with your most precious asset—life. This book is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now without your even knowing it. The Zombie Survival Guide offers complete protection through trusted, proven tips for safeguarding yourself and your loved ones against the living dead. It is a book that can save your life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400050802
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 09/23/2003
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 151,217
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

MAX BROOKS, "the Studs Terkel of zombie journalism," is also the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


He comes from the grave, his body a home of worms and filth. No life in his eyes, no warmth of his skin, no beating of his breast. His soul, as empty and dark as the night sky. He laughs at the blade, spits at the arrow, for they will not harm his flesh. For eternity, he will walk the earth, smelling the sweet blood of the living, feasting upon the bones of the damned. Beware, for he is the living dead.
-Obscure Hindu text, circa 1000 B.C.E.

ZOM-BIE: n. also ZOM-BIES pl. 1. An animated corpse that feeds on living human flesh. 2. A voodoo spell that raises the dead. 3. A Voodoo snake god. 4. One who moves or acts in a daze "like a zombie." [a word of West African origin]

What is a zombie? How are they created? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their needs, their desires? Why are they hostile to humanity? Before discussing any survival techniques, you must first learn what you are trying to survive.

We must begin by separating fact from fiction. The walking dead are neither a work of "black magic" nor any other supernatural force. Their origin stems from a virus known as Solanum, a Latin word used by Jan Vanderhaven, who first "discovered" the disease.


Solanum works by traveling through the bloodstream, from the initial point of entry to the brain. Through means not yet fully understood, the virus uses the cells of the frontal lobe for replication, destroying them in the process. During this period, all bodily functions cease. By stopping the heart, the infected subject is rendered "dead." The brain, however, remains alive but dormant, while the virus mutates its cells into a completely new organ. The most critical trait of this new organ is its independence from oxygen. By removing the need for this all-important resource, the undead brain can utilize, but is in no way dependent upon, the complex support mechanism of the human body. Once mutation is complete, this new organ reanimates the body into a form that bears little resemblance (physiologically speaking) to the original corpse. Some bodily functions remain constant, others operate in a modified capacity, and the remainder shut down completely. This new organism is a zombie, a member of the living dead.

1. Source

Unfortunately, extensive research has yet to find an isolated example of Solanum in nature. Water, air, and soil in all ecosystems, from all parts of the world, have turned up negative, as have their accompanying flora and fauna. At the time of this writing, the search continues.

2. Symptoms

The timetable below outlines the process of an infected human (give or take several hours, depending on the individual).

Hour 1: Pain and discoloration (brown-purple) of the infected area. Immediate clotting of the wound (provided the infection came from a wound).

Hour 5: Fever (99-103 degrees F), chills, slight dementia, vomiting, acute pain in the joints.

Hour 8: Numbing of extremities and infected area, increased fever (103-106 degrees F), increased dementia, loss of muscular coordination.

Hour 11: Paralysis in the lower body, overall numbness, slowed heart rate.

Hour 16: Coma.

Hour 20: Heart stoppage. Zero brain activity.

Hour 23: Reanimation.

3. Transference

Solanum is 100 percent communicable and 100 percent fatal. Fortunately for the human race, the virus is neither waterborne nor airborne. Humans have never been known to contract the virus from elements in nature. Infection can occur only through direct fluidic contact. A zombie bite, although by far the most recognizable means of transference, is by no means the only one. Humans have been infected by brushing their open wounds against those of a zombie or by being splattered by its remains after an explosion. Ingestion of infected flesh (provided the person has no open mouth sores) results in not infection but, rather, permanent death. Infected flesh has proven to be highly toxic.

No information-historical, experimental, or otherwise-has surfaced regarding the results of sexual relations with an undead specimen, but as previously noted, the nature of Solanum suggests a high danger of infection. Warning against such an act would be useless, as the only people deranged enough to try would be unconcerned for their own safety. Many have argued that, given the congealed nature of undead bodily fluids, the chances of infection from a non-bite contact should be low. However, it must be remembered that even one organism is enough to begin the cycle.

4. Cross-Species Infection

Solanum is fatal to all living creatures, regardless of size, species, or ecosystem. Reanimation, however, takes place only in humans. Studies have shown that Solanum infecting a non-human brain will die within hours of the death of its host, making the carcass safe to handle. Infected animals expire before the virus can replicate throughout their bodies. Infection from insect bites such as from mosquitoes can also be discounted. Experiments have proven that all parasitic insects can sense and will reject an infected host 100 percent of the time.

5. Treatment

Once a human is infected, little can be done to save him or her. Because Solanum is a virus and not a bacteria, antibiotics have no effect. Immunization, the only way to combat a virus, is equally useless, as even the most minute dosage will lead to a full-blown infection. Genetic research is under way. Goals range from stronger human antibodies to resistant cell structure to a counter-virus designed to identify and destroy Solanum. This and other, more radical treatments are still in the earliest stages, with no foreseeable success in the near future. Battlefield experiences have led to the immediate severing of the infected limb (provided this is the location of the bite), but such treatments are dubious at best, with less than a 10 percent success rate. Chances are, the infected human was doomed from the moment the virus entered his or her system. Should the infected human choose suicide, he should remember that the brain must be eliminated first. Cases have been recorded in which recently infected subjects, deceased by means other than the virus, will nonetheless reanimate. Such cases usually occur when the subject expires after the fifth hour of infection. Regardless, any person killed after being bitten or otherwise infected by the undead should be immediately disposed of. (See "Disposal, page 19.")

6. Reanimating the Already Deceased

It has been suggested that fresh human corpses could reanimate if Solanum were introduced after their death. This is a fallacy. Zombies ignore necrotic flesh and therefore could not transfer the virus. Experiments conducted during and after World War II (See "Recorded Attacks," pages 216ff) have proven that injecting Solanum into a cadaver would be futile because a stagnant bloodstream could not transport the virus to the brain. Injection directly into a dead brain would be equally useless, as the expired cells could not respond to the virus. Solanum does not create life-it alters it.


1. Physical Abilities

Too often, the undead have been said to possess superhuman powers: unusual strength, lightning speed, telepathy, etc. Stories range from zombies flying through the air to their scaling vertical surfaces like spiders. While these traits might make for fascinating drama, the individual ghoul is far from a magical, omnipotent demon. Never forget that the body of the undead is, for all practical purposes, human. What changes do occur are in the way this new, reanimated body is used by the now-infected brain. There is no way a zombie could fly unless the human it used to be could fly. The same goes for projecting force fields, teleportation, moving through solid objects, transforming into a wolf, breathing fire, or a variety of other mystical talents attributed to the walking dead. Imagine the human body as a tool kit. The somnambulist brain has those tools, and only those tools, at its disposal. It cannot create new ones out of thin air. But it can, as you will see, use these tools in unconventional combinations, or push their durability beyond normal human limits.

A. Sight

The eyes of a zombie are no different than those of a normal human. While still capable (given their rate of decomposition) of transmitting visual signals to the brain, how the brain interprets these signals is another matter. Studies are inconclusive regarding the undead's visual abilities. They can spot prey at distances comparable to a human, but whether they can distinguish a human from one of their own is still up for debate. One theory suggests that the movements made by humans, which are quicker and smoother than those of the undead, is what causes them to stand out to the zombie eye. Experiments have been done in which humans have attempted to confuse approaching ghouls by mimicking their motions and adopting a shambling, awkward limp. To date, none of these attempts have succeeded. It has been suggested that zombies possess night vision, a fact that explains their skill at nocturnal hunting. This theory has been debunked by the fact that all zombies are expert night feeders, even those without eyes.

B. Sound

There is no question that zombies have excellent hearing. Not only can they detect sound-they can determine its direction. The basic range appears to be the same as that for humans. Experiments with extreme high and low frequencies have yielded negative results. Tests have also shown that zombies are attracted by any sounds, not just those made by living creatures. It has been recorded that ghouls will notice sounds ignored by living humans. The most likely, if unproven, explanation is that zombies depend on all their senses equally. Humans are sight-oriented from birth, depending on other senses only if the primary one is lost. Perhaps this is not a handicap shared by the walking dead. If so, it would explain their ability to hunt, fight, and feed in total darkness.

C. Smell

Unlike with sound, the undead have a more acute sense of smell. In both combat situations and laboratory tests, they have been able to distinguish the smell of living prey above all others. In many cases, and given ideal wind conditions, zombies have been known to smell fresh corpses from a distance of more than a mile. Again, this does not mean that ghouls have a greater sense of smell than humans, simply that they rely on it more. It is not known exactly what particular secretion signals the presence of prey: sweat, pheromones, blood, etc. In the past, people seeking to move undetected through infested areas have attempted to "mask" their human scent with perfumes, deodorants, or other strong-smelling chemicals. None were successful. Experiments are now under way to synthesize the smells of living creatures as a decoy or even repellent to the walking dead. A successful product is still years away.

D. Taste

Little is known about the altered taste buds of the walking dead. Zombies do have the ability to tell human flesh apart from that of animals, and they prefer the former. Ghouls also have a remarkable ability to reject carrion in favor of freshly killed meat. A human body that has been dead longer than twelve to eighteen hours will be rejected as food. The same goes for cadavers that have been embalmed or otherwise preserved. Whether this has anything to do with "taste" is not yet certain. It may have to do with smell or, perhaps, another instinct that has not been discovered. As to exactly why human flesh is preferable, science has yet to find an answer to this confounding, frustrating, terrifying question.

E. Touch

Zombies have, literally, no physical sensations. All nerve receptors throughout the body remain dead after reanimation. This is truly their greatest and most terrifying advantage over the living. We, as humans, have the ability to experience physical pain as a signal of bodily damage. Our brain classifies such sensations, matches them to the experience that instigated them, and then files the information away for use as a warning against future harm. It is this gift of physiology and instinct that has allowed us to survive as a species. It is why we value virtues such as courage, which inspires people to perform actions despite warnings of danger. The inability to recognize and avoid pain is what makes the walking dead so formidable. Wounds will not be noticed and, therefore, will not deter an attack. Even if a zombie's body is severely damaged, it will continue to attack until nothing remains.

F. Sixth Sense

Historical research, coupled with laboratory and field observation, have shown that the walking dead have been known to attack even when all their sensory organs have been damaged or completely decomposed. Does this mean that zombies possess a sixth sense? Perhaps. Living humans use less than 5 percent of their brain capacity. It is possible that the virus can stimulate another sensory ability that has been forgotten by evolution. This theory is one of the most hotly debated in the war against the undead. So far, no scientific evidence has been found to support either side.

G. Healing

Despite legends and ancient folklore, undead physiology has been proven to possess no powers of regeneration. Cells that are damaged stay damaged. Any wounds, no matter what their size and nature, will remain for the duration of that body's reanimation. A variety of medical treatments have been attempted to stimulate the healing process in captured ghouls. None were successful. This inability to self-repair, something that we as living beings take for granted, is a severe disadvantage to the undead. For example, every time we physically exert ourselves, we tear our muscles. With time, these muscles rebuild to a stronger state than before. A ghoul's muscle mass will remain damaged, reducing its effectiveness every time it is used.

H. Decomposition

The average zombie "life span"-how long it is able to function before completely rotting away-is estimated at three to five years. As fantastic as this sounds-a human corpse able to ward off the natural effects of decay-its cause is rooted in basic biology. When a human body dies, its flesh is immediately set upon by billions of microscopic organisms. These organisms were always present, in the external environment and within the body itself. In life, the immune system stood as a barrier between these organisms and their target. In death, that barrier is removed. The organisms begin multiplying geometrically as they proceed to eat and, thereby, break down the corpse on a cellular level. The smell and discoloration associated with any decaying meat are the biological process of these microbes at work. When you order an "aged" steak, you are ordering a piece of meat that has begun to rot, its formerly toughened flesh softened by microorganisms breaking down its sturdy fiber. Within a short time, that steak, like a human corpse, will dissolve to nothing, leaving behind only material too hard or unnutritious for any microbe, such as bone, teeth, nails, and hair. This is the normal cycle of life, nature's way of recycling nutrients back into the food chain. To halt this process, and preserve dead tissue, it is necessary to place it in an environment unsuitable for bacteria, such as in extreme low or high temperatures, in toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, or, in this case, to saturate it with Solanum.

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Zombie Survival Guide 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1006 reviews.
MissAthena More than 1 year ago
I would like to personally thank Max Brooks for this magnificent guide. It helps provide you with weapons flaws and benefits. Ranging from close combat, all the way up to explosives. It helps you prepare your home incase an attack were to form in your location. It educates the reader for defensive, offensive, and fleeing strategic measures. Advice is given for the location of where to rebuild a society if the case would permit to that extent and steps to take for that process. As well as containing information about zombie survival, it contains recorded attacks. With well research, I myself was able to learn about some of these attacks, second hand, not through this book but other resources.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Max Brooks begins his Zombie Guide by answering the most important question: What are zombies? Brooks breaks down the 'fact' from fiction and thoroughly provides the reader with an in-depth explanation of Zombies their characteristics, emotions, (if any), and worldwide appearances are all described in detail. In a witty and humorous manner, Brooks examines how zombies are created, how they infect humans, and most importantly, how to kill them. He studies and explains the disease Solanum, which is only transferable via contact with a zombie. He cites research instances in which scientists attempted to provide analysis of the disease but have come up short. Brooks provides a life-saving guide, which is a necessity in any zombie related mayhem. He lists several rules to follow in the event of a zombie infestation, ranging from assembling survival groups to creating defense strongholds as well as determining the best type of protection, whether it is a vehicle, weapon or remote location. Brooks even analyzes all different types of protection available, from simple household tools to guns and the most famous zombie-killing weapon, the chainsaw. He also considers the effect zombies have on the human psyche. He determines that the fear they invoke and the constant, low-pitch drone they create is enough to drive people insane. Thus, Brooks provides solutions to keep sanity as well as various activities to alleviate boredom and pass time. Brooks also cites various instances in human history from 2000 BC Egypt onwards to modern day occurrences in Central America where documents, (formulated by Brooks, of course), prove and record zombie attacks and sightings. At the end of his guide Brooks even provides the reader with daily logs in order to keep records and prepare for impending doom. Brooks expects the reader to slowly prepare for the worst. He makes it seem as if zombies were real and completely immerses the reader into the situations provided. Brooks eventually poses the ultimate question: What if the world was plagued with a top tier zombie attack? Can humanity withstand such a crisis? In The Zombie Survival Guide Max Brooks creates an alternate reality in which zombies are real and pose an immense threat. The Zombie Survival Guide is a must-read and is quite the page-turner.
Sara58 More than 1 year ago
It is not a question if the zombie apocalypse will happen, it's when. As a firm believer in the event, author Max Brooks proves the seriousness of the threat through research and experience. From locations one should avoid to recorded attacks of actual breakouts, The Zombie Survival Guide is an excellent source for surviving the zombie apocalypse. The front cover grabs attention easily; the biggest word is "zombie" in black bold letters. The back has the top ten lessons for surviving a zombie attack, listed in red. The book begins with an introduction, stating the purpose of his guide: survival. He proves his credibility and lets the reader know the exact reasoning behind the book, which is great for those skeptical people out there. The book is separated into seven distinct chapters, which is perfect for quick reference points if you ever forget exactly what you need to do. The first chapter breaks down the myths and realities of zombies. He answers all those questions one might have thoroughly and purposefully. The second chapter covers weapons and combat techniques. He breaks every weapon into its own section in which he explains the efficiency or inefficiency of said weapon. The third chapter contains how to be on the defense: what places to hide if you do not properly prepare your home before the invasion occurs. The fourth chapter: on the run. What should you do if you end up in the desert? What type of transportation should you use? The fifth chapter teaches you what to do if you would EVER have to attack, which should be avoided at all costs. The sixth chapter shows how to live in an undead world, which is useful for everyone whether you believe in the apocalypse or not. The last chapter is what really proves his point: recorded attacks. Over 50 recorded so far! He makes all doubts disappear in 70 or so pages. All of this information helped me to prepare and will help me survive the zombie apocalypse. Obviously life is one's most important asset and protecting it should be your number one priority in everything you do. Max Brooks definitely helps you achieve this goal. If you do not believe in the apocalypse, this book may not be for you. However, if you are on the fence about whether it will happen or not happen, you may want to go to your nearest Barnes and Noble, grab it from the shelf, and rush to the counter to buy and study this terrific reference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pretty good. Information is very logical, and can entertain you the entire time you are reading. Front to back, a very interesting and logical collection of information not only about zombies but also about survival techniques and weaponry. OVERALL 5 STARS!
Felonious More than 1 year ago
This book is exactly what the title says it is, it's a Survival Guide. Reading this book is NOT like reading a novel, it doesn't tell a story, it tells you how to survive a zombie outbreak. The Zombie Survival Guide explains how to chose weapons, what tools you'll need, and what actions you need to take. Max Brooks does such a good job, that after reading the survival guide, I find myself being more prepared for the coming zombie outbreak than I am for any other possible "natural" disaster. Max explains everything (that's known) about the virus that turns people into zombies. The last part of the survival guide gives accounts and "proof" of previous outbreaks that have occurred thorough out human history. The "proof" is laid out chronologically and offers artifacts, stories, and eyewitness accounts (several with the disclaimer that government officials deny that any zombies were involved). The brilliance behind Max Brooks book The Zombie Survival Guide is that he did it the way all survival guides are done and he did it convincingly. The knowledge it contains is what will keep you alive and without it your chances of survival plummets. BE PREPARED!
JollyG More than 1 year ago
If you are into zombies and books then this book is completely for you. This was the first zombie book I read and now it has me gettin' all of the other ones. The whole book has all kinds of useful information... if the zombie apocalypse happens that is. It tells you how to survive in different environments, how to get prepared if you have time and if you don't, what equipment you need and many other things you could ever want to know. A must read for zombie fans.
TheQWERTY173 More than 1 year ago
I'm 15 and don't really like to read, but I really had a fun time reading this one. The way it was written makes me feel that I was really preparing for a zombie invasion! Great book, especially for people who don't like to read for pleasure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, i find myself ready for the oncoming zombie apocalypse. It IS 2012 right?
DeeBoone More than 1 year ago
A must read for all you zombie devotees. If there is a thin line between satire and realism, you will find it here. It is not a question of if the zombies will attack but when. Riotous!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Write what you would take with you in a zombie apoc example: a close combat tacticle knife, my friends and family, etc. Post your name too and then post to icypenguin to be accepted into my survival group. See you later!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was hoping this would be funny. Maybe other people think it's funny, but the humor is just so dry and deadpan that I never laughed. I really hoped that I would. It just wasn't the funny book that I hoped for. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its great but cost to much
MeganAshley More than 1 year ago
The more I kept thinking he couldn't possibly have more information or advice, it just kept coming. This book is so detailed, and I learned so much. If you're into zombies or just want to know how to protect yourself, you MUST read this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont think this book is worth the money that it cost. If it were cheaper I might recomend it. I am a huge "Zombie Fan" so, it was hard for me to write this review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The combo of this book and world war z if u get the sample you get the entire first book free
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book if you are a true believer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For the people who want to give it one star because it couldn't happen and want to call people nutcases for liking it; it's a fiction book. It was written to go along with World WAR Z, giving help on how to survive that fictional world. That might be hard for some to comprehend, but trust me no sane person thinks there is going to be a real zombie outbreak and that this book will help then survive. It's just fun to read and think about. Which is why you read books, so maybe you should just just stick with magazines or tv.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friend let me borrow this book. Great book. I loved this book. Because who knows maybe there might be a zombie outbreak but that is coming from a 10 year olds point of view. Those who read this will pretty prepared. But you would need more than your axe. You will need a gun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW!This is EPIC!I thought I knw zombies, but CLEARLY I didn't!I recomend this book to all zombie fans. It has SO much that I did't know about zed AKA zack, AKA zombies!!!
ZombieFan1 More than 1 year ago
I love it so much. It is an essential for any zombie fan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its what everyone needs to survive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must have for any zombie fan and the perfect companion to brooks own "world war z" get iit now before the shambling hordes come for YOU
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was awsome
theroastbeefmanifesto More than 1 year ago
This book has honestly changed the way I think about zombies. I'm pretty sure it's what restarted the zombie craze. Everyone should read it, if only to just see what survivalism ideology is like - there are principles I'm here that could be applied in any survival situation. Things you'd never think of! But, the ebook version has a few hic-ups that I noticed weren't I'm my print version. The publisher should fix that. I recommend this book, WWZ, and the Illustrated Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Accounts!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Look good