Saturday, 13 November 2010

Zombies: A Hunter's Guide by Joseph A. McCullough

This is only my second book review of 2010 and the fifth since I started my blog. Most of the fiction books that I read nowadays are either about vampires or zombies. This book Zombies: A Hunter's Guide by Joseph A. McCullough is certainly fictional but it is definitely not a novel. In tone, it reminds me of the excellent Zombie: CSI by Jonathan Maberry. To quote the blurp on the back cover "Since World War 2, the number of zombie outbreaks has increased every year, while governments desperately try to cover up the facts. Zombies: A Hunters' Guide contains all of the information necessary to recognise and combat this growing threat. Beginning with an explanation of the historical origins of zombies, it follows their history through to the threat they pose in the world today. All varieties of zombie are catalogued and examined, giving their strengths and weaknesses, with a special emphasis on recognition and elimination. Finally, the book covers the tactics and equipment used in zombie fighting, from the man on the street with his sharpened hockey stick to the latest fully automatic shotguns and anti-undead armour employed by top secret government "Containment Teams." Accompanied by numerous full-colour reconstructions to help with identification, this book is a must for anyone on the frontlines of the Zombie Wars."
Its premise is that zombies are real and have been around for millenia, much like Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide. The zombies covered in the book include Necromantic Zombies, Voodoo Zombies, Nazi Zombies, Revenants, Atomic Zombies (the most popular and prevalent kind), Viral Zombies (the fast moving zeds), Zombie Masters and Viral Hounds and other Zombified Animals. There are some fascinating stories told here. I particularly liked the Re-killing of Billy the Kid, who apparently came back as a revenant. Apparently, Billy's grave is covered by a steel cage (there are photos showing it as it is today) and it posits that the cage is to keep Billy in, not to keep sightseers out!
There is a small section in the chapter on Zombie Hunter Weapons and Equipment that I'd like to share with you. It is headed Reaper 1 and Reaper 2 and will surely appeal to gamers everywhere. "During the 1988 Cerro Gordo, Iowa outbreak, local landscaper Neil Bower used a John Deere combine harvester to single handedly eliminate a 300-strong zombie horde. The incident did not go unnoticed by the US government. Three years later, the military began field testing Reaper 1, a purpose built zombie harvester. Initial trials found that the blades had a tendency to gum up after the first few dozen zombies, and the designers had greatly underestimated the "splatter effect," which sent potentially deadly zombie-infected matter in all directions.
By 1996, the military had created Reaper 2 as the ultimate zombie-fighting weapon, incorporating the lessons learned from Reaper 1. Smaller than a full-sized combine harvester, Reaper 2 still towers twelve feet above the ground. It has a cockpit team of two, a driver and the commander, who also rides shotgun, picking off any zombies that manage to survive the blades and cling onto the side. The vehicle can also carry six passengers and a full communications array. The designers created Reaper 2 so that it could be disassembled into eight component parts, allowing it to be airlifted to trouble spots. While the deployment of Reaper 2 remains highly classified, there is evidence that it has been used on at least five different occasions in the last fifteen years."
Okay, who else wants a model of Reaper 2? I think that is awesome! Sadly there are no pictures of the vehicle but it makes me think - just what would it look like? Also, what a prize to acquire in a game of ATZ!
Speaking of which, the book ends with a far too brief look at recommended books, comics (actually only one, and yes, it is The Walking Dead) games and movies that may interest the zombie fan. It was nice to see ATZ included in the list of zombie games.
If I have one criticism to make of the book, it is that it is far too short. With a page count of just 80 pages, it only scratches the surface. On the plus side, the writing is first rate, as it takes the subject very seriously. There is some nice humour in the book. Check out the Indiana Jones reference in the section on Nazi Zombies! Add in some gorgeous artwork, especially the full colour plates, and you end up with a book that ought to appeal to zombie fans everywhere. It is published by Dark Osprey Productions and retails for £10.99 or $17.95 if you live in America. I ordered my copy from Amazon.UK for a mere £6.42. It pays to shop around!


  1. Great Bryan, another book I have to look into. If it isn't minis it's books, if it isn't books its something else like paints, putty, brushes, etc...


    Seriously though will need to check it out, and add it to my collection next to Zombie Survival Guide and the U.S. Army Zombie Combat Skills book I picked up at the local Borders (this book is laid out like a US Army Field Manual and while does actually contain some real info taken from actual US Army materials, they add a Zombie spin to a lot of the info). While this book is listed as authored by the Dept. of the Army, it is not an actual US Army published book).

  2. Ahh nice review man, this is a book that has been on my too buy list for a while now, good to see someone else is enjoying it, might have to jump on ebay now and order it......

  3. The reference to Billy the Kid was kind of cool, but the fact is that no one knows the true location of the grave of Billy the Kid. A flood washed awy most of the markers, and quite a few of the remains of the deceased. The stone tombstone was placed in the cemetary years later. and was stolen twice yet recoverd each time. The cage is to prevent that sort of theft. Revenant? Bwahahahahahahaha... Great piece of fiction there, and yet another myth added to the story of Billy the Kid.

  4. @Doug. I know what you mean, man, there's always something that wants to part your cash from your wallet! I'll check on Amazon to see if the US Army Zombie Combat Skills book is available in the UK. Thanks for the heads up!

    @The Extraordinarii. Don't pay full price for it if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. I was happy with the price quoted by Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

    @Zanazaz. Hi and welcome aboard. I found the whole story of Billy the Kid rising again quite fascinating as I'm a big fan of the Wild West. To claim Billy became a revenant was just so cool. I didn't know about his grave in real life, so thanks for that extra info. Although I still prefer the story that the cage is to keep Billy in rather than thieves out.

  5. Well, based on your review [and someone else's but can't remember who :( ] I'm currently reading Zombie:CSU and got World War Z + 1 more [can't remember that either! :( ] to read so this will have to wait!

  6. Colin, stick with what you're reading at the present before even thinking about buying this book, much less reading. Zombie:CSI and World War Z are essential reading material for any zombie fan.

  7. The Billy the Kid bit sounds a lot like the Lone Ranger in History Is Dead: A Zombie Anthology

    IIRC in the Lone Ranger portion of History is Dead, he was a US Marshal that was gunned down by a gang of criminals, and an Indian see what happened and raised the Lone Ranger from the dead in order to allow him to track the criminals down. It was also stated that silver could kill him, giving the reason why the Lone Ranger used silver bullets.

    History is dead has a mix of zombie types from mindless ghouls devouring the living, to smart zombies only intent on accomplishing a goal. One of the stories also supposedly is how Mary Shelly seen some zombies caged up in an underground crypt and she got her inspiration for Frankenstein. A nice book, will have to pull it out again and re-read it here soon.

  8. Once again, Doug, you've mentioned another book about zombies that I've never heard of. Zombie literature is certainly my weak spot regarding the undead. Thanks for sharing, Doug. I know from my previous visits to the USA that you guys, get books that we Brits have never heard of. I used to love visiting your book stores when I was holidaying in Florida.