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World War Z

World War Z


by Max Brooks

World War Z Chapter 6 Summary

How It All Goes Down

Home Front USA

Part 1

Taos, New Mexico

  • Next on the Interviewer's hit list is Arthur Sinclair Junior. He was the head of America's DeStRes (Department of Strategic Resources) program during the war.
  • Sinclair doesn't know who came up with the acronym DeStRes, but he knows that pronouncing it "distress" was more than appropriate.
  • They called everything west of the Rookies a safe zone, but there wasn't much safe about it. The American people suffered "starvation, disease, [and] homelessness in the millions" and their "[i]ndustry was in shambles, transportation and trade had evaporate" (6.1.2). Did we mention zombies? Because, yeah, zombies.
  • Sinclair's job was simple: get the American back on its feet. But doing it was a little more difficult.
  • He decided to return to the lessons his father taught him, lessons "almost Marxist in nature." He called it "tools and talent" (6.1.3).
  • Talent meant the skills of the workforce … and their talent pool was a tad shallow. No headfirst diving into this talent pool.
  • The problem was America's pre-war culture. Everyone was an executive this or analyzed that or commissioned whatever or were experts in literary analysis. Ahem.
  • None of that was any good after the zombie war. What they needed were blue-collar skills: people who could make guns, bricks, and machines.
  • Sinclair used the refugee camps. Anybody labeled F-6 (white-collar skill set) was immediately put into unskilled labor: cleaning streets, digging graves, and so on. How's that for some class warfare?
  • A-1 civilians (those with war-needed skills) became part of the Community Self-Sufficiency Program (CSSP).
  • The switch to a war production society was dubbed the National Reeduation Act, the largest of its kind since WWII. It an instant success with everyone… well, not everyone.
  • The movie producers, financers, and upper management types didn't take well to having plumbers, mechanics, and construction workers as their new bosses.
  • Others were pretty happy. Sinclair remembers one guy who went from licensing for an ad agency to chimney sweeping. Now, he loves helping to keep his neighbors warm.
  • Now onto the tools part of the tools and talent equation. Sinclair swivels his chair and points to a root beer recipe hanging on his wall.
  • All those ingredients, all those tools, and that's just to brew some root beer.
  • He gives three reasons the Allies won World War II. Those are: (1) The ability to manufacture material; (2) Natural resources for that material; (3) Transportation for those materials.
    And they needed to do all three (6.1.18).
  • California's agricultural base provided them with an advantage on the starvation issue.
  • Next came recycling. No point throwing something out that could be used again and again. Thankfully, pre-war middle class Americans lived with a material wealth historically unheard of, and they had lot of materials to recycle.
  • But the military was Sinclair's greatest adversary. The boys in blue could create any project or program their gun-happy hearts desired, but once they contracted those jobs to a resource under DeStRes's control, Sinclair could do with as he pleased.
  • And they did not like Sinclair having a say over them. Not one bit.
  • Sinclair doesn't blame them. He understands they were under a lot of pressure, needed someone to vent at, and he understands that that poor sap was him.
  • Did he make mistakes when dealing with the military? Sure he did. He didn't understand how important dirigibles would prove in World War Z.
  • He also agreed to support Project Yellow Jacket. The project guys promised they'd develop a bullet that could be sent into a zombie's brain via satellite. Turns out, breeding and training a unicorn cavalry would a more realistic endeavor.
  • Then in came Travis D'Ambrosia—remember him from "Part 2"?—to give Sinclair's butt a boost out of the fire. When Travis became the Joint Chief, he green lighted an idea called RKR or resource-to-kill ratio and helped Sinclair create a new standard of infantry rifle and BDU.
  • Once RKR took off, the boys fighting the fight began coming up with ways to improve their own RKR.
  • Sinclair points to a Lobo hanging on his wall, a weapon created by leathernecks (i.e. the marines) to improve RKR. It proved so useful against zombies that they still make them to this day.

Part 2

Burlington, Vermont

  • Next up is "the Whacko." He's the former vice president of the United States, but since everyone just calls him "the Whacko," he asks the Interviewer to refer to him as such. Whatever floats your boat, buddy.
  • "The Whacko" was chosen as vice president because he belonged to a different party and had a polar opposite personality from the president. But you know what? The two worked well together in spite of, nay, because of that fact.
  • Honolulu was bedlam when it became the new capital seat of the United States. Not only did they have to set up the government, but they also had to prepare the newly founded safe zone west of the Rookies.
  • They originally wanted to do away with the election, but the President convinced them otherwise.
  • The Interviewer asks "the Whacko" to elaborate, but the former vice president will only do so if the Interviewer agrees to fact check him. Seems his old brain has some clogged synapses.
  • "The Whacko" told the president elections were a great ideal, but they needed to work fast, and an election would only jam up the system.
  • The President simply explained that they needed ideals now more than ever. Looking back on it, "the Whacko" realizes the President didn't want to become America's first Caesar and risk destroying what America stood for.
  • The elections set the tone for the administration. Many of the President's ideas seemed outrageous but were supported by pillars of irrefutable logic.
  • Take for instance the President's punishment laws. He brought back ye olde punishments of the stocks and public floggings.
  • With the zombies inching closer every day, what good would it do to put a criminal in prison? No good at all. They needed that guy to work. By making the punishment public, you put the fear of humiliation into them.
  • But the President wasn't heartless in his logic. When someone suggested they dump criminals in the infested zones, the President refused, claiming the last thing they needed were criminals creating their own Road Warrior kingdoms east of the Rookies.
  • Actually, that doesn't sound compassionate—just smart.
  • The Interviewer mentions they used the death penalty, but "the Whacko" defends the administration, saying it was only in extreme circumstances, like political secession.
  • For example, they had that group of extreme religious fundamentalists who didn't want the government interfering with the zombies carrying out God's law. They got a lot of press, but only because they tried to kill the President.
  • "The Whacko" mentions that the left had its share of extremists, such as the "Greenies" who were like the "Fundies" but believed the zombies were doing the "Mother Earth's" work instead.
  • Then there were the Rebs. These guys were armed and way more dangerous than the religious extremists. The President knew they had to be dealt with quickly. Being the pro he was, he never let on how dangerous they really were in public.
  • The complicated ones were the rebels who claimed, "'We didn't leave America. America left us'" (6.2.24). What's the problem? Well, problem is they kind of had a point. America did leave them stranded on the other side of the Rookies.
  • The administration allowed the former isolated zones peaceful integration back into the Union. Some took it, but others fought.
  • All the violence and death took its toll on the president's health. He was so focused on the nation's well being that he never even tried to find out the fate of his own family in Jamaica. And that burden he shouldered eventually killed him.Wenatchee, Washington.

Part 3

Wenatchee, Washington 

  • During the day, Joe Muhammad runs a bicycle repair shop. At night, he creates sculptures out of metal. During the zombie wars, he killed zombies. It's quite the resume.
  • Joe wanted in the National Reeducation Act right away, but the recruiter was a tad nervous giving him a job in the Neighborhood Security Team. Why's that? Joe's disabled.
  • He actually finds it kind of funny. The human race was on the verge of extinction, and this lady was trying to be politically correct. If he couldn't outpace a zombie, would he have lived long enough to ask for the job in the first place? Nope.
  • Joe said he'd stay in that office until he received his orange vest. He left one orange vest richer.
  • His job in the Neighborhood Security Team was to help the team secure the neighborhood. Pretty self-explanatory really.
  • They patrolled day and night. Night shifts were the roughest. Without all the streetlights and electrical lights of modern life, Joe had forgotten just how dark true darkness could get. It plays with your mind, man.
  • It was also hectic because the resettlement program brought you new neighbors every day. Joe himself hosted a family of six after years of living alone. Once you got to know the new neighbors though, it was all cool.
  • The first year was easily the worse because they had so many deserted houses to search. Joe stood guard outside while his buddies went in. Sometimes they'd find a zedhead inside; other times, the zedhead came for Joe.
  • But zombies were only one of several issues. They also had to deal with looters and squatters, and these guys could fire guns. Usually, the looters and squatters would accept their offer into the community. No big deal, really; they were just as scared as everybody else.
  • Other times, well, the only time Joe got hurt was when a professional bad guy took a pop shot at him with a 9mm.
  • They'd also find feral children, malnourished and scared. The only times Joe felt bad that he couldn't run was when he couldn't catch up with a feral child to help them out.
  • But worst of the worse were the Quislings.
  • A quisling is a human who is still 100% human physically, but who acts like a zombie mentally. Like someone with Stockholm syndrome, they associate with the thing that scares them so much they begin to mimic what terrifies them.
  • They move like zombies, moan like zombies. They even, um, eat like zombies.
  • Unfortunately for Joe and his crew, they didn't know about quislings when they first ran into one. The Q bit one of his buddy before Joe managed to kill it. Everyone thought they'd have to kill their friend as well until they realized the "zombie" was bleeding red.
  • Not long after, quislings were officially announced, and Neighborhood Security Teams trained to fight them. Joe wonders if people being bitten by quislings and surviving might have had something to do with why people thought Phalanx worked.
  • And no, they could never reason with the quislings. Their minds were long gone. The best they could do was capture them alive if possible, put them down if not.
  • Joe says he's not even touching the "to kill or not to kill" quislings debate. For Joe, the saddest thing is that the Qs gave up their humanity but lost in the end anyway.
  • The Interviewer asks him what he means.
  • He says that the zombies know the difference between a Q and a Z. And when a zombie starts om-noming on a quisling, the quisling just lies there and quietly dies. Yeah, we'd qualify that as a loss too.

Part 4

Malibu, California

  • The Interviewer doesn't need a photo to recognize Roy Elliot. Apparently, this guy is pretty hot stuff.
  • The interview begins with a discussion on ADS or Asymptomatic Demise Syndrome. Basically, it's when the despair of living in a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland is too much for someone and they literally lose the will to live and die.
  • Roy understood despair. In the pre-war world, he was a famous movie director. Now, he was an F-6, meaning his talents and fame amounted to negative jack.
  • But when he heard about ADS, he snatched up a camera and got to work.
  • He had to go it alone though. His DeStRes rep said the idea wouldn't fly, and anybody who could override the decision was too busy to be bothered.
  • Roy and his oldest son traveled on mountain bikes looking for a story. They found one in Claremont, CA.
  • There, three hundred students at the Women's College at Scripps turned their college into "something resembling a medieval city" (6.4.12). It cost them their hacky sack tourney in the quad, but they managed to keep the zombie troops at bay.
  • Roy and his boy arrived at the tail end of the conflict—right as those three hundred students finished fighting off ten thousand zombies, and the soldiers arrived to relieve them.
  • Roy edited the footage as soon as he could and screened the fourteen copies all over the L.A. area under the title Victory at Avalon: The Battle of the Five Colleges.
  • It bombed. Hard.
  • At least, that's what Roy thought. The audience just watched the film and then left silently. All the fantasies Roy had about being a hero popped like several red balloons that night.
  • Two weeks later, a psychiatrist came and asked Roy for extra copies of his super-successful movie.
  • Roy was shocked. Success? As it turns out, ADS cases dropped in the LA area by 5 percent after the movie's screening. And no one told Roy.
  • He didn't care though because his film did what he meant it to do and gave him a wartime job he could do. He got a larger crew together, made some more films, and ADS cases dropped by 23 percent.
  • Then the government took notice.
  • With access to the military, Roy could make more films, including his now famous Fire of the Gods.
  • Fire of the Gods detailed the military development of two laser systems: Zeus and MTHEL. That's right, zombie killing laser machines. We'll give you a moment to appreciate the awesomeness.
  • Except they weren't really that awesome. Both laser systems were huge resource hogs and on their way out since they didn't do much more against a zombie than your average Joe could do with a rifle. Or a rock and sling for that matter.
  • But, thanks to Roy's film, they came out of retirement to serve other purposes in the war—like clearing landmines.
  • The Interviewer questions why he filmed the lasers killing zombies, if they weren't all that effective.
  • Well, Americans' "worship technology" (6.4.44). Show them a high-tech gizmo fragging a zombie and watch them drool.
  • The film lead to a whole series called "Wonder Weapons."
  • The Interviewer asks if that means it qualifies as a lie.
  • Roy has no problem with that moniker. He says a lie is only as a good or bad as the use it's put to.
  • The government's pre-war lies, those were bad because they prevented people from doing what was necessary.
  • Roy's lie, that everything was going to be okay, was a good thing because it gave people the hope to do what was necessary.
  • He asks the Interviewer if he ever watched The Hero City?
  • The Interviewer says he did.
  • Roy wants to know which version he saw. Was it the version that showed "the violence and the betrayal, the cruelty, the depravity, the bottomless evil in some of those 'hereos' hearts" (6.4.58)?
  • Nope. Reality is what caused ADS in the first place. Lies kept people fighting rather than dying.

Part 5

Parnell Air National Guard Base, Tennessee

  • Colonel Christina Eliopolis is a woman famous for her war record and her temper, and she's next in the hot seat.
  • Pre-war, Eliopolis was a FA-22 Raptor pilot, one of the most advance pieces of tech ever to tickle the clouds. And when fighting zombies, it amounted to little more than buyer's remorse.
  • Since zedheads couldn't fly the friendly skies, the Air Force found itself drastically cut back and most of its planes and weapons grounded for the sake of RKR.
  • Their main mission went from winning wars to airborne resupply. Basically if they had a little hideaway hole of humanity surrounded by the undead nation, the Air Force dropped in supplies, so they could keep on keeping on. Success meant dropping in anything from medicine, food, resources, machines, and sometimes even people.
  • Thanks to the creation of refuel and repair facilities, the Air Force managed to fly resupply missions as far as the east coast with a 92 percent survivability rate. Eliopolis's story starts in the other 8 percent.
  • She's not sure what brought her plane down. All she knows is that after two hours of heavy turbulence, she needed to pee.
  • While in the bathroom—portable chempot truth be told— she felt a jolt as if God's boot just kicked the back of their plane off. The air pressure sucked Eliopolis out the back.
  • She pulled her chute and noticed another chute made it out in time. She tried the radio but got nothing.
  • That was the worst of it for her, just hanging in the air, helpless and useless.
  • Thankfully, the Air Force had given her some training for this type of situation at the Willow Creek Escape and Evade program. Also, Eliopolis was more than use to occupying hostile territory.
  • The Interviewer asks her what she means by that.
  • Back at Colorado Springs, she was a lady cadet in a man's world. Sure, other women cadets were there too, but as Eliopolis put it, "when the pressure kicked in, sisterhood punched out" (6.5.34).
  • When she touched down, she bee-lined for the other chute. She found it and its passenger, Rollins, tangled in the trees. The zombies had put their chompers to him.
  • Eliopolis managed to keep her cool enough to snap a suppressor on her pistol, not enough to not waste the whole clip on them.
  • The Interviewer tries to comfort her, saying it wasn't her fault, but Eliopolis shrugs the comment away. How does he know? He wasn't there. She wasn't even there.
  • The radio squawked to life. A skywatcher jumped on the line. Her handle was "Mets."
  • By the by, the skywatch system was a support system setup so that isolated ham radio owners could help downed aircrews. Now you know.
  • Mets told Eliopolis that her cabin was surrounded, so them meeting up was a no go. But she did report Eliopolis's position to search and rescue. Now, Eliopolis needed to find open ground for a pickup.
  • Panic set into Eliopolis, but Mets talked her down, reminding her that she had flown the area before and knew it intrinsically.
    Eliopolis remembered the 1-10 freeway, and Mets agreed that was the best pickup spot.
  • Eliopolis was about to leave when Mets asked her if she's forgetting something. She turned back and put a slug into Rollins's head.
  • Trudging through the swamps, Eliopolis's training took over. Eventually she found a road, but Mets reminded her to stay off of it. A zombie trapped in a car might not be able to bite, but it could still call others. Good point.
  • She skipped the road and moved deeper in. The first zombie she saw was a kid, tangled on the roots of a tree and half submerged in the swamp. It couldn't moan, but she put it out of its misery anyway.
  • Later that day, she came across an SUV. The SUV was packed with everything anyone would need to survive and the remains of a guy who didn't survive. Lacking the will, he just killed himself outright.
  • Mets asked for an update, and Eliopolis explained. The skywatcher told her to get a move on. And Mets was right. Eliopolis had everything she needed; now she needed to move.
  • But she didn't get anywhere. Mets heard something and asked what it was. You know what that means. Zombies inbound.
  • Eliopolis hopped onto the SUV. Cool and steady, she dropped all the zombies in a game of lethal wack-o-mole.
  • After the battle, Eliopolis moved as far from the SUV as she could. When it began to darken, she set a hammock in a tree for the night.
  • She asked Mets who she really was, but Mets said they could go all The View later.
  • Eliopolis slept hard that night. She dreamed about zombies and awoke to—what else?—zombies surrounding her tree.
  • Without the ammo to take them out, she had only one course of action. Mets informed her that pickup was on their way.
  • She leapt from the tree. Splash and Crack! She landed face first in the cold water with a broken ankle.
  • Mets yelled for her to get up and run. The pain was excruciating, but Mets went all drill sergeant on Eliopolis's butt.
  • As Eliopolis nears 1-10, the pain began to become too much for her. She couldn't climb on top of the cars because of her ankle, so she had to dodge between the cars and grabbers.
  • Eliopolis was just about to give up when Mets asked her if she was just like her mother. That gave her all the gumption she needed for the final push.
  • She saw a helicopter in the distance and popped her signal flare. Rescued at last.
  • Airborne, the rescue crew asked her where she'd come from—seems they weren't the rescue team Mets had mentioned. Eliopolis got on her radio and made a The View joke but received no response.
  • The Interviewer says Mets sounds like a hell of skywatcher and asks Eliopolis about her suspicions.
  • Eliopolis says no skywatcher could have been as well informed as Mets was. She must have been a pilot at some point. She thinks
  • Mets might have been knocked from the sky, held up in a cabin, and spent the rest of the war as an awesome skywatcher.
  • The Interviewer mentions that they never found Mets or the cabin.
  • Eliopolis wonders if the Interviewer has read her after-action psych eval. She thinks it's crap. So what if Mets is short for Metis, the mother of Athena, or if Eliopolis's mother was from the Bronx? As for that "are you your mother?" comment, she thinks it was a good guess on Mets part.
  • Eliopolis ends the interview confirming Mets was not a figment of her imagination, but a real skywatcher who was with her in a tough time.
  • Yeah, we're not so sure.

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