Disaster And Epidemic Preparedness In The Horror World War Z

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Earth is not prepared for a major disaster or pandemic and World War Z is an extreme example of what could happen if there were one. World War Z is a post-apocalyptic novel, written by Max Brooks, in which we learn, from an unknown first-person narrator, through interviews and stories that combine to fully describe a full-fledged zombie apocalypse. In this novel, Max Brooks accurately portrays the lack of preparation for a disaster or health epidemic in the modern world.

In addition to the previous statement, the general population is the most unprepared for disaster in both World War Z and real life. Additionally, fictional and everyday people living on our planet tend to make irrational decisions when they are subjected to disasters and epidemics.

In the novel, people followed others in herd-like movements when they were in panic or in trauma after disaster instead of thinking for themselves and attempting to save themselves and others(Brooks). This mindless follow-the crowd-mentality prevented autonomy and further solutions in the novel. Due to the struggles and the business of everyday life, many people are not planning for future disasters. Max Brooks sums this up well in his novel, “Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature” (Brooks 32). Max Brooks explains how it is human nature to be unprepared for disaster because many humans do things in the moment and do not look ahead for future problems.

Additionally, people in a higher class with non-labor intensive or more modern jobs such as office workers, lawyers, programmers, etc. are at a disadvantage due to their lack of knowledge of common hands-on skills and survival skills. These people have disadvantageous abilities and their lack of effort to change themselves or learn new things turned out to be their downfall in the post-apocalyptic world in the novel. Some of these professionals have not had a lot of adversity in their lives and when their world turns to chaos it is hard for them to persevere, whereas some of the people living in poverty have faced disasters and have to deal with more inconveniences. Therefore the lower class is in a better position when disaster strikes because of their knowledge and skills in disastrous situations. On a similar note some, “anti-vaxxers” don’t believe in vaccinations and are posing a threat to themselves and the public because they will not have the necessary antibodies to fight some of the most highly contagious diseases.

In an interview Brooks sums this up quite well, “ The anti-vaxxers are the worst. And they’re a product of our own success because we’ve managed to wipe these diseases so far away from us” (What Zombie Expert Max Brooks Can Teach Us About Coronavirus). Max Brooks is saying that although solutions to eliminate these diseases by vaccination have been achieved, some of them are starting to return to society because some especially stubborn members of the public will still not choose to use it. Public health experts further reject this foolish mindset with this fact, “Vaccines are the most effective way to stem the spread of infectious diseases, such as diphtheria and measles. Each year, vaccines for infectious diseases save 3 million lives, and 3 million more children around the world could be saved if they were vaccinated, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (Pandemic threat). In conclusion, the general public is not prepared to face a disaster or epidemic due to their lack of foresight, lack of useful post-apocalyptic abilities, and imprudent thinking towards vaccines and other preventative measures.

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As with human behavior, some countries have not shown they are prepared for a pandemic or disaster, such as China, whilst some have, for example North Korea. This is shown in both World War Z and the real world. Max Brooks correctly estimates countries’ responses to epidemics and outbreaks in his novel, specifically China and North Korea’s. For example, North Korea was depicted as a very prepared and cautious country when disaster struck in World War Z. This is shown especially well when North Korea closed its borders and hid in vast underground tunnels when a lethal epidemic began to spread in World War Z. Similarly, in real-life, when the Ebola epidemic was at its strongest, North Korea shut down all borders and hid its people in bunkers to keep themselves safe. An example of a country being unprepared for a disaster or outbreak is China in World War Z and in real-life. In World War Z, Max Brooks, chooses to have the virus begin in a smaller Chinese village.

When the World War Z author was asked in an interview why he chose to have the virus start in China in World War Z, he responded, “This is why, in my novel World War Z, I put the zombie virus in China. Because if I had put it anywhere else, one scrappy little reporter could have blown the lid off and then there would be no virus. China is, unfortunately, the perfect storm for pandemics. It has a massive population. It also has an incredibly new and efficient infrastructure. That’s another thing. So first you get the virus, then you spread it among the people, and then you have this amazing rail system, roads, ships, airplanes. So then you can outsource that plague at light speed”(What Zombie Expert Max Brooks Can Teach Us About Coronavirus). Max Brooks is talking about the vulnerability China possesses to possible outbreaks and why he chose this location for the start of a virus in his novel World War Z. It is ironic that he chose this location for his novel World War Z because the coronavirus began in the same conditions that he predicted in his novel. Moreover, China silenced reports and rumors of an outbreak in World War Z,’ We heard the rumors. We’d even had an outbreak somewhere in Kashi. The government had hushed it up pretty quickly. But we guessed, we knew something was wrong’ (Brooks 12).

China being dishonest and covering-up diseases is not something that solely happens in the novel, it happens in real-life as well. When the coronavirus began the government quieted the initial people to speak about the deadly disease, We know now that the initial whistleblowers were talking on WeChat about the coronavirus and we know that the local police called them in and said, “You’re spreading rumors, you better cut that out or you’re going to disappear”(What Zombie Expert Max Brooks Can Teach Us About Coronavirus). The Chinese government and police threatened those trying to tell others of a deadly virus in both World War Z and in real-life. While some governments are prepared for an outbreak, for instance North Korea, many are less prepared, including China.

The United States is also a common setting in the novel and is not entirely ready for an outbreak or disaster in the novel or in the real-world.There are many setbacks and weaknesses in the United States’ preparation for a global epidemic or disaster in both World War Z and real-life. Firstly, the U.S. has consistently cut money from disease cure research and WHO (the World Health Organization) since 2001 and this leaves the U.S. and the rest of the world more vulnerable to epidemics than it has been in the past (Pandemic Threat). This penurious behavior when it comes to cure research is very risky and backfired on the government in the science-fiction novel, World War Z. This is demonstrated when the U.S. could have saved itself if it were not for its parsimonious behavior while trying to combat the life-threatening disease, being stingy almost terminated the United States in this extreme case in World War Z (Brooks).

Max Brooks described the U.S.’s financial pettiness and hesitance as the main components to its almost complete demise, this was shown when they cut cure research funds and their lack of preparation in Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane was an eye-opening example of the U.S.’s lack of preparation, “ Hurricane Katrina ranks as the most destructive storm in U.S. history. It destroyed some 200,000 homes in New Orleans alone and cost as much as $200 billion. Katrina directly affected more than a half-million people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. More than that, Katrina revealed what was widely seen as a shocking lack of readiness for another major catastrophe” (Disaster Preparedness). In short, the United States is not ready for a major epidemic or disaster and needs to start funding disaster relief and disease cure research more heavily.

Not only did the public, the U.S., and China’s preparation lack many aspects in real-life, they also lacked preparation in the novel World War Z. Max Brooks succeeds in portraying the lack of preparation for health epidemics as well as disasters in today’s world, in his novel, World War Z. In conclusion, the majority of the world is vulnerable to people not effectively responding to disaster and epidemics and this is shown especially well in Max Brooks’ World War Z.

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