World War Z

World War Z

by

Max Brooks

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Narrator Character Analysis

After the zombie war ended, the narrator traveled the world interviewing many people who had a role to play in the war, and then collected and organized the interviews into this book. In the introduction, he explains that he was initially hired by the U.N.’s Postwar Commission Report to conduct these interviews and write the report. When it was published, he was disappointed to see that it had been heavily edited from the version he’d written. He spoke to the chairperson about this, and she explained that his version had been too full of his interviewees’ “opinions” and had “too many feelings.” The U.N., by contrast, wanted “clear facts and figures.” The narrator believes that without this “human factor,” future generations who read the report will have no connection with the events of the war and might even repeat the mistakes that the world made while dealing with this crisis. So, he decides to write this book using his old interviews and to also include the “human factor” which the U.N. had excluded in their report. The narrator states that emotions and opinions are what separates human beings from the zombies, which is why he values them. At the end of the introduction, the narrator says that this “book of memories” consists solely of the voices of his interviewees, and that he has tried to maintain an invisible presence in it. He states that he has “attempted to reserve judgment, or commentary of any kind.” While the narrator does have a minimal presence in the book—his words appear solely in the introduction and very minimally in the interviews—he does manage to convey his opinions about his interviewees through the manner in which he describes them or poses his questions to them. For instance, when he interviews Grover Carlson, the narrator asks him if he really believed the crisis he was being warned about was nothing serious, despite receiving many “warnings to the contrary,” implying that Carlson certainly mismanaged the U.S. response to the zombie outbreak. At times like these, the narrator shows his own deep personal connection to the events of the zombie war, which helps the information he presents to resonate with his readers.

Narrator Quotes in World War Z

The World War Z quotes below are all either spoken by Narrator or refer to Narrator. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Rivers edition of World War Z published in 2006.
Introduction Quotes

The official report was a collection of cold, hard data, an objective “after-action report” that would allow future generations to study the events of that apocalyptic decade without being influenced by “the human factor.” But isn't the human factor what connects us so deeply to our past? Will future generations care as much for chronologies and casualty statistics as they would for the personal accounts of individuals not so different from themselves? By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from a history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as “the living dead”?

Related Symbols: Zombies
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6: Around the World, and Above Quotes

She…she wouldn’t leave, you see. She insisted, over the objections of Parliament, to remain at Windsor, as she put it, “for the duration.” I thought maybe it was misguided nobility, or maybe fear-based paralysis. I tried to make her see reason, begged her almost on my knees.

What did she say?

“The highest of distinctions is service to others.” […] Their task, their mandate, is to personify all that is great in our national spirit. They must forever be an example to the rest of us, the strongest, and bravest, and absolute best of us.

Page Number: 193-194
Explanation and Analysis:
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Narrator Character Timeline in World War Z

The timeline below shows where the character Narrator appears in World War Z. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
The narrator says the event he speaks of goes by many names, but that he prefers to... (full context)
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
The narrator explains that this book, the “record of the greatest conflict in human history,” was written... (full context)
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The final report excluded “the human factor,” and the narrator argued that without this, future generations might feel detached from the events being described and... (full context)
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The Cost of War Theme Icon
The narrator says that some might say it is too soon for a “personal history book”—it has... (full context)
Chapter 1: Warnings
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...12-year-old boy they kept tied, gagged, and locked in an abandoned house. Kwang tells the narrator that this was “Patient Zero.” The villagers tried to hold Kwang back and warned him... (full context)
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...call his daughter and warn her to leave the country. The section ends with the narrator noting that Kwang Jingshu was arrested by the MSS and imprisoned without any formal charges.... (full context)
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...of its most recent elections, in which the Social Democrats overthrew the Llamist Party. The narrator meets Nury Televaldi here, and says that they have to shout to be heard over... (full context)
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...so poor and where the officials were so corrupt that they welcomed his business. The narrator asks him if he saw many infected people, and Televaldi says that he didn’t in... (full context)
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The Amazon Rain Forest, Brazil. The narrator goes to the settlement of the Yanomami or the “Fierce People” to speak with Fernando... (full context)
The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
...cared where the organs came from, though they were often procured cruelly and unethically. The narrator asks him if he ever tried to warn clients after their surgeries that they might... (full context)
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Tel Aviv, Israel. The narrator meets Jurgen Warmbrunn, an Israeli intelligence agent, at an Ethiopian restaurant. Warmbrunn says that most... (full context)
Chapter 2: Blame
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Langley, Virginia, USA. The narrator meets with Bob Archer, director of the CIA. Archer says that before the war, most... (full context)
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The narrator asks Archer if he’d heard of the Warmbrunn-Knight report, and Archer says he knows of... (full context)
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The narrator says that the general sounds sad as he says that they certainly let the American... (full context)
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...over land, and it is also extremely cold, which is why Scott likes it. The narrator meets him in “The Dome,” a reinforced, geodesic greenhouse that is one of the many... (full context)
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Fear Theme Icon
Scott tells the narrator that the only valid rule about economics is that “fear is the most valuable commodity... (full context)
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The narrator wonders how Scott made it past the FDA, and Scott says the FDA used to... (full context)
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The narrator asks Scott if he knew that the vaccine wouldn’t work, and Scott says he knew... (full context)
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The narrator says that if someone discovered that it wasn’t rabies, Scott would have gotten in trouble.... (full context)
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The narrator asks Scott if he takes no responsibility for what transpired, and Scott insists on his... (full context)
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...plant. He used to be the former White House chief of staff. He tells the narrator that he had of course seen the “Knight-WarnJews report” and had read it three months... (full context)
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...the Alpha teams. Carlson also says that they had pushed Phalanx through the FDA. The narrator points out that Phalanx didn’t work, and Carlson says they were grateful for a placebo... (full context)
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The narrator asks if they ever tried to “solve the problem,” and Carlson says that most problems—like... (full context)
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The narrator asks whether the administration’s position on the matter was that they “gave this problem the... (full context)
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Troy, Montana, USA. The narrator says that according to the brochure, this neighborhood is the “New Community” for the “New... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Great Panic
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The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
Alang, India. The narrator stands on the beach with Ajay Shah, surrounded by rusty ships that are like “silent... (full context)
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Topeka, Kansas, USA. The narrator is at the Rothman Rehabilitation Home for Feral Children, where he is meeting with Sharon,... (full context)
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Khuzhir, Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, The Holy Russian Empire. The narrator meets Maria Zhuganova alone in a small, bare room, but is certain that they are... (full context)
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The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies Federation. The narrator meets T. Sean Collins at a raucous bar. He tells the narrator that there is... (full context)
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Ice City, Greenland. The narrator meets Ahmed Farahnakian here. He used to be a major in the Iranian Revolution Guards.... (full context)
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Denver, Colorado, USA. The narrator and Todd Wainio shake hands under the train station’s mural of Victory, one of the... (full context)
Chapter 4: Turning the Tide
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Robben Island, Cape Town Province, United States of Southern Africa. The narrator meets Xolelwa Azania at his writing desk where he is working on his book Rainbow... (full context)
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...implement the plan. He says he pities Redeker and hopes he is at peace. The narrator leaves Azania and takes a ferry back to the mainland. He has been at the... (full context)
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Armagh, Ireland. The narrator bumps into Philip Adler at the Pope’s wartime refuge. It is Adler’s first time traveling... (full context)
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Yevchenko Veterans’ Sanatorium, Odessa, Ukraine. The narrator describes the room he is in as being windowless and dimly lit. The patients suffer... (full context)
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...has volunteered in this sub-arctic region every summer after the war ended. She tells the narrator that she doesn’t really blame the government for diverting some refugees north since she understands... (full context)
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...just in North America. By mid-July, the snow melted and the living dead arrived. The narrator watches as she uses a crowbar to crush the skull of a reanimating zombie near... (full context)
Chapter 5: Home Front USA
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Taos, New Mexico. The narrator is speaking to Arthur Sinclair, Junior, who was director of the U.S. government’s Department of... (full context)
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Burlington, Vermont. The narrator is interviewing the former vice-president who insists on calling himself “the Whacko” because everyone else... (full context)
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...and it couldn’t have a future if they lost their freedom. The Whacko tells the narrator that he saw “a lot of weakness, a lot of filth” among people in those... (full context)
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...Neighborhood Security Memorial, which shows “two standing citizens, and one seated in a wheelchair.” The narrator notes that Muhammad is disabled. Muhammad tells the narrator that when he went to volunteer... (full context)
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Malibu, California. The narrator meets the famous director Roy Elliot for coffee in Malibu. Elliot tells him that he... (full context)
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The narrator asks Elliot if that wasn’t a lie, and Elliot says it was. He says it... (full context)
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Parnell Air National Guard Base, Tennessee. Gavin Blaire takes the narrator to meet his squadron commander, Colonel Christina Eliopolis, who has a reputation for being very... (full context)
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...be picked up—they would be stuck there until the war ended. They went anyway. The narrator says the pilots were also very brave, and Eliopolis agrees, saying they had to fly... (full context)
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...checked to see that she was unhurt and had her essential supplies and gun. The narrator asks if the air force had trained them for situations like these, and she says... (full context)
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Eliopolis tells the narrator that Mets wasn’t just a civilian—she must have been a pilot, too. She says that... (full context)
Chapter 6: Around the World, and Above
The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
...on his second book, called Castles of the Zombie War: The Continent. He tells the narrator that North America doesn’t have “fixed fortifications” like the Continent does. The United States and... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
...South Korea. Hyungchol Choi, deputy director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, speaks to the narrator about North Korea. He says that no one knows what happened. North Korea’s boundary was... (full context)
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...hair, he is now a toned warrior monk with a shaved head. He tells the narrator that he used to be an “otaku” or “outsider” before the war. Japanese culture considered... (full context)
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The narrator asks Tatsumi if he’d been afraid for his personal safety, and Tatsumi says he hadn’t... (full context)
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...when he tried calling them, he realized that the phones weren’t working. He tells the narrator that he still has no idea what happened to his parents, and has been trying... (full context)
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...sheets to make more rope to lower himself and get out of the building. The narrator asks if wouldn’t have been more dangerous on the streets, and Tatsumi says he had... (full context)
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Cienfuegos, Cuba. The narrator meets Seryosha Garcia Alvarez at his office on the 69th floor. The view is spectacular... (full context)
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The narrator asks Xu where they were headed, and he says that they didn’t have a destination... (full context)
The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
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...their “hopeless fate.” They were “prey to hunger, thirst, sunstroke, or the sea herself.” The narrator asks Xu if they didn’t help any of them, and Xu says they couldn’t risk... (full context)
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Xu explains to the narrator that Captain Chen suspected that his only son was the captain of that submarine, which... (full context)
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...on his death bed, Knox is happy to think that he made a difference. The narrator notes that he died three days after the interview. (full context)
Chapter 7: Total War
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 Aboard the Mauro Altieri, Three Thousand Feet Above Vaalajarvi, Finland. The narrator is with General D’Ambrosia aboard the Combat Information Center (CIC), Europe’s command and control dirigible.... (full context)
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Denver, Colorado, USA. The narrator has just finished dinner with Todd Wainio at his house. He tells the narrator that... (full context)
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Siberia, The Holy Russian Empire. The narrator meets Father Sergei Ryzhkov, an old cleric, in a primitive shantytown. During the war, Ryzhkov... (full context)
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The narrator asks Ryzhkov if those ideas were “perverted for political reasons” since the president had declared... (full context)
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Aboard USS Holo Kai, Off the Coast of the Hawaiian Islands. The narrator speaks with Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Choi inside a minisub called the Deep Glider... (full context)
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The minisub reaches the ocean floor, and Choi spots some zombies. The narrator sees around 60 of them approaching. Choi begins to fire darts at their chests, and... (full context)
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Quebec, Canada. Andre Renard meets the narrator in his small farmhouse and asks that he keep his exact location a secret because... (full context)
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Denver, Colorado. The narrator has accompanied Todd Wainio to a  neighborhood picnic in Victory Park. There hasn’t been a... (full context)
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The narrator wants to know what it was like to liberate “the isolated zones” and Wainio says... (full context)
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The narrator asks him if he’d heard about the questionable survival methods some people in isolated zones... (full context)
Chapter 8: Good-Byes
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Burlington, Vermont. The Whacko tells the narrator that they’d decided to declare victory as soon as the continental U.S. was secured even... (full context)
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Zhuganova wonders if the narrator is puzzled by ideas like this in a “fundamentalist state.” She says that no one... (full context)
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...independent branch of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. While watching Ijiro greeting guests, Tatsumi tells the narrator that he doesn’t “really believe any of this spiritual ‘BS.’” He thinks Ijiro is crazy,... (full context)