World War Z
by Max Brooks
General Travis D'Ambrosia is Todd Wainio's upper-management counterpart in World War Z. Whereas Todd gives us the details on what it means to be a grunt in the zombie wars, Travis lets us in on what it's like to be a military officer. What's it like?
Painting a Prettier Picture
As a character, Travis dispels some popular Hollywood myths of what it means to be an officer. As he puts it:
I don't know who created the stereotype of the hard-charging, dim-witted, high school football coach of a general officer. Maybe it was Hollywood, or the civilian press, or maybe we did it to ourselves by allowing those insipid, egocentric clowns—the MacArthurs and Halseys and Curtis E. LeMays—to define our image to the rest of the country. (8.1.5)
Travis opposes all this nonsense. He doesn't deny his mistakes, although he does want the American people to know why they were made (3.2.2). He understands the war weariness of the common person (3.2.22). And he's afraid of putting his men at risk, even though it's a necessary part of the job. His knowledge of All Quiet on the Western Front also suggests a well-read and literate man.
In other words, he's the kind of guy you can have a conversation and a cup of coffee with. And then go out and dump on some busters.
When we first meet Travis, he explains to the Interviewer how the military could have let the zombie threat get out of hand. When we meet him again, he explains to the Interviewer how he and his fellow officers had to prepare for the counterstrike against the zombies. Notice something here?
In each part, Travis's job is to explain. He tells us that current administration tied the military's hands during the initial zombie outbreak. Then he points out how the higher-ups had to completely rework the rules of war to meet the zombie swarm on equal ground.
We see these explanations play out in Todd Wainio's story. We see the faults of the military's preparations in Todd's account of the Battle of Yonkers. And then we see how the revised war playbook adds a bit of fighting finesse to Wainio's arsenal. In Travis's story, we see the cause; in Todd's, we see the effect. Travis's story gives us a more complete picture of the zombie wars than we could get with Todd's story alone.