In this thread I intend to deconstruct the sillier suggestions of the Zombie Survival Guide
by Max Brooks, rather than attempt to actually "review" the book. If you want a review, I can tell you this much: I didn't think it was all that funny, just dumb.
Basically, we'll start from the beginning. The "Solanum" virus is, like most fictional diseases, preposterous long before you even get into the whole "turns people into zombies" thing. For one thing, there's absolutely no incubation period for the virus; the host is immediately infected and symptomatic when bitten, and will die and reanimate within 24 hours, with a 100% infection/fatality rate. It doesn't infect any organism other than humans but infected flesh is extremely toxic.
Not even ebola or the bubonic plague act that quickly. While it is not unheard of for diseases to kill within 24 hours of symptoms appearing, they still need an incubation period before symptoms appear, typically 2-6 days in the case of the plague.
Oh, and zombies "saturated" with the Solanum virus hardly decompose, and typically last 3-5 years.
I'm not sure why Brooks thought it was necessary to throw in technobabble about zombies like this. It's not really amusing and eyeroll-inducing to anyone who paid attention in high school health class. Anyway, let's move on. Most of the rest is fluff about zombies and how to identify the real McCoy.
The weapons section starts of sensibly enough. When it starts to get into what weapons to select, though, the author's inexperience starts to show. For example:The civilian ax can easily crush a zombie's skull, smashing through bone and brain in one swing. Decapitation is equally easy, which is why the ax has been the favored tool of executioners for centuries.
Actually, executioners using axes had to take repeated swings to fully decapitate the prisoner, and this was with the prisoner lying their head on a chopping block, motionless, with gravity on the ax's side. Generally the advice for close combat weapons is solid enough, but if these zombies really existed I wouldn't recommend attempting decapitation. Destroying the brain would be job one, and a lot easier.
He then goes on to primitive weapons, and again, while it's solid for the most part...4. SHURIKEN
These small, multipoint devices were used in feudal Japan to pierce a human skull. In appearance they resemble a steel, two-dimensional replica of a shining star, hence their nickname, "throwing stars."
Brooks has been watching too many ninja films. Shuriken were not killing weapons, being more for distracting the enemy, and in the case of "throwing star" shuriken, would never have the heft to pierce a human skull.6. THE LONG OR COMPOUND BOW
To be blunt, hitting a zombie through the head with an arrow is an extremely difficult feat. Even with compound bows and modern sights, only experienced archers have a chance of making a direct shot.
The firearms section doesn't start off well, classifying the M249 SAW as a "Heavy Machine Gun", and goes on to say that full auto is a useless waste of ammo. While this may be the case, the inaccuracy of his statements set the tone for the chapter. When he gets to "assault rifles," Brooks promptly spouts off every popular myth ever made.To answer some of these questions, it is best to examine two extreme examples. The U.S. Army M16A1 is considered by many to be the worst assault rifle ever invented. Its overcomplicated mechanism is both difficult to clean and prone to jamming. Adjusting the sight, something that must be done every time a target shifts its range, requires the use of a nail, ballpoint pen, or similar device. What if you didn't have one, or lost it as several dozen zombies shambled steadily toward you? The delicate plastic stock of the M16A1 obviates bayonet use, and by attempting to use it as such you would risk shattering the hollow, spring-loaded stock. This is a critical flaw. If you were confronted by multiple ghouls and your A1 jammed, you would be unable to use it as a last-ditch hand-to-hand weapon. In the 1960s, the M16 (originally the AR-15) was designed for Air Force base security. For political reasons typical of the military-industrial complex (you buy my weapon, you get my vote and my campaign contribution), it was adopted as the principal infantry weapon for the U.S. Army. So poor was its early battle record that during the Vietnam War, communist guerillas refused to take them from dead Americans. The newer M16A2, although somewhat of an improvement, is still regarded as a second-class weapon. If given a choice, emulate the Vietcong and ignore the M16 entirely.
This is so false it is nearly offensive
. Brooks has clearly never handled a weapon from the AR-15 family before, and his knowledge of the system probably came from some Geocities page. If you wanna know the real story about the M16, check out this link. As for the Vietcong...
GG Max. GG.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Soviet AK-47 is considered the best assault rifle ever made. Although heavier than the M16 (10.58 pounds vs. 7 pounds) and possessing considerably harder kick, this weapon is famous for its rugged efficiency and study construction. Its wide, spacious firing mechanism prevents jamming from dirt or sand. In hand-to-hand combat, you could either stab a zombie through the eye socket with the weapon's bayonet or use the solid, steel-backed wooden stock to smash through a zombie's skull. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then several nations have chosen to flatter the AK with either direct copies (Chinese Type 56) or modified designs (Israeli Galil). Again, although the assault rifle is not ideal for defense against the living dead, a member of the AK-47 family will be your best bet.
Usually the same people drinking AR haterade are the same ones masturbating themselves raw for the AK-47, and Max Brooks is no exception. I would say that in a zombie apocalypse situation neither is completely ideal (the AK being heavy with shitty sights and poor balance, while the opportunity to clean an AR may not present itself for some time), but you would be well-served by either.
I should state that Max Brooks only talks about true assault rifles with full auto capability, so he's got that much going for him. But it completely ignores the utility of semi-auto only clones of both the AR-15 and AK-47 families which are widely available to civilians, much more so than the full auto versions.
Brooks goes on about several other weapons types, excessively disparaging towards handguns, and sings incredulous praises of .22LR weapons, repeating the "it zips around inside the skull" myth. While a .22 would certainly be useful in a survival situation, using it in combat against zombies (unless it's suppressed) would certainly not be my Plan A. Having said that, a .22 (especially a Ruger 10/22) would be a reliable and dependable weapon. It just lacks power over distance, and I want consistent skull popping.
Despite starting out recommending avoiding hand to hand against zombies, the book seems to assume that you always WILL be fighting them hand-to-hand and makes clothing/hair recommendations accordingly.
That's it for the first bit, stay tuned for part 2.