World War Z

World War Z

by

Max Brooks

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Todd Wainio Character Analysis

Wainio, a soldier in the U.S. Army, discusses the soldier’s perspective of the war against the zombies. The narrator clearly believes that this is an important perspective since he includes four of Wainio’s interviews in the book. In his first interview, Wainio describes the fiasco that was the Battle of Yonkers. It was the first time the U.S. Army was engaging the zombies in a fight, and they were so confident in their technical prowess and strategies that they hadn’t planned the attack carefully. Wainio and the soldiers were terrified to see the unending stream of zombies headed their way and began to panic. The zombies, on the other hand, felt no fear or concern for their safety, which gave them the upper hand in the battle. Wainio describes the Battle of Hope in his second interview, which was different from the Battle of Yonkers in every way. This time around, the army had studied the enemy and knew that the best way to kill them was to shoot them in the head. Wainio and the other soldiers ended up killing thousands of zombies at that battle, and felt victorious and hopeful at the end of it. In his third interview, Wainio describes his experience of traveling slowly across America on foot, killing all the zombies they found, and liberating towns and cities. In his final section, Wainio talks about the cost of the war. He acknowledges that the U.S. Army lost fewer soldiers than other armies around the world did, but that their losses were nonetheless considerable. Many soldiers died, like the woman whom Wainio had been in love with, while others, like Wainio, still suffer from the psychological effects of the war. Wainio’s perspective highlights the struggles that soldiers face even outside of the pages of the novel, as they grapple with death, fear, loss, and hopelessness. At the end of the long war, Wainio seems tired and lost, rather than victorious and validated.

Todd Wainio Quotes in World War Z

The World War Z quotes below are all either spoken by Todd Wainio or refer to Todd Wainio. 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 3: The Great Panic Quotes

Dude, we had everything: tanks, Bradleys, Humvees armed with everything from fifty cals to these new Vasilek heavy mortars. […] We even had a whole FOL, Family of Latrines, just plopped right there in the middle of everything. Why, when the water pressure was still on and toilets were still flushing in every building and house in the neighborhood? So much we didn’t need! So much shit that only blocked traffic and looked pretty, and that’s what I think they were really there for, just to look pretty.

For the press.

Hell yeah, there must have been at least one reporter for every two or three uniforms!

Related Characters: Todd Wainio (speaker)
Related Symbols: Zombies
Page Number: 94-95
Explanation and Analysis:

Sure, we were unprepared, our tools, our training, everything I just talked about, all one class-A, gold-standard clusterfuck, but the weapon that really failed wasn’t something that rolled off an assembly line. It’s as old as…I don’t know, I guess as old as war. It’s fear, dude, just fear and you don’t have to be Sun freakin Tzu to know that real fighting isn’t about killing or even hurting the other guy, it’s about scaring him enough to call it a day. Break their spirit, that’s what every successful army goes for, from tribal face paint to the “blitzkrieg.” […] But what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t! That’s what happened that day outside New York City, that’s the failure that almost lost us the whole damn war.

Related Characters: Todd Wainio (speaker)
Related Symbols: Zombies
Page Number: 103-104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7: Total War Quotes

They let us sleep as late as we wanted the next day. That was pretty sweet. Eventually the voices woke me up; everyone jawing, laughing, telling stories. It was a different vibe, one-eighty from two days ago. I couldn’t really put a finger on what I was feeling, maybe it was what the president said about “reclaiming our future.” I just knew I felt good, better than I had the entire war. I knew it was gonna be a real, long-ass road. I knew our campaign across America was just beginning, but, hey, as the prez said later that first night, it was finally the beginning of the end.

Related Characters: Todd Wainio (speaker), The American President
Related Symbols: Zombies
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

Maybe not all the time but there’d be this one person, this angry face in the crowd screaming shit at you. “What the fuck took you so long?” “My husband died two weeks ago!” “My mother died waiting for you!” “We lost half our people last summer!” “Where were you when we needed you?” People holding up photos, faces. When we marched into Janesville, Wisconsin, someone was holding up a sign with a picture of a smiling little girl. The words above it read “Better late than never?” He got beat down by his own people; they shouldn’t have done that. That’s the kind of shit we saw, shit that keeps you awake when you haven’t slept in five nights.

Related Characters: Todd Wainio (speaker)
Page Number: 322
Explanation and Analysis:
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Todd Wainio Character Timeline in World War Z

The timeline below shows where the character Todd Wainio appears in World War Z. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: The Great Panic
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Denver, Colorado, USA. The narrator and Todd Wainio shake hands under the train station’s mural of Victory, one of the most recognizable images... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Wainio says that he, like most people, had never heard of Yonkers before, but that it... (full context)
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
Wainio wonders why the soldiers weren’t placed on the flat roofs of the buildings at Yonkers,... (full context)
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
Fear Theme Icon
The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
...for the soldiers to use though they were right in the middle of a city. Wainio stresses that they had many things that were unnecessary and were probably there “just to... (full context)
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
Fear Theme Icon
The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
...The soldiers fired at them with heavy arms and missiles and grenades from the Humvees. Wainio is angry that their superiors hadn’t realized that none of their high-tech arms were of... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Wainio says that many arm-chair theorists cannot understand why the soldiers couldn’t just shoot the zombies... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
Then, an airstrike began and Wainio took shelter in his hole. A burned zombie head struck him in his back, and... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Wainio says that historians talk about Yonkers as representing a “catastrophic failure of the modern military... (full context)
Chapter 7: Total War
The Fragility of Privilege and Modern Life Theme Icon
Denver, Colorado, USA. The narrator has just finished dinner with Todd Wainio at his house. He tells the narrator that the “new army” was “like stepping back... (full context)
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
Fear Theme Icon
...soldiers loaded their guns and waited. They could see “Gs on the horizon, hundreds,” and Wainio began to shake. They called the dogs off and played loud Iron Maiden songs to... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Denver, Colorado. The narrator has accompanied Todd Wainio to a  neighborhood picnic in Victory Park. There hasn’t been a single zombie sighting all... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Wainio explains that they also made it a point to stop every night to rest and... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Wainio was in Army Group North, which he was initially happy about because he thought that... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
The narrator wants to know what it was like to liberate “the isolated zones” and Wainio says that each one was a struggle. One area was surrounded by a million zombies,... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
...them as they approached. The army superiors sent special units to deal with the Rebs. Wainio once saw tanks headed their way and knew the Rebs had put themselves in a... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
...he’d heard about the questionable survival methods some people in isolated zones had used, and Wainio says that he didn’t want to hear about them even when those people wanted to... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
While historians say that American casualties were way less than other countries, Wainio says they were still very high. Also, the statistics ignored deaths that were not caused... (full context)
Chapter 8: Good-Byes
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Denver, Colorado, USA. Todd Wainio admits that he “lose[s] it sometimes” but that the army psychiatrist assures him that it... (full context)