Study Guide

World War Z Chapter 5

By Max Brooks

Chapter 5

Turning the Tide

Part 1

Robben Island, Cape Town Province, United States of Southern Africa

  • The Interviewer meets with Xolelwa Azania. Azania is writing a book titled Rainbow Fist: South Africa at War. The book is about Paul Redeker, the very man the Interviewer is there to discuss.
  • Azania describes Redeker as a dispassionate man, believing humanity's true flaw was its emotions.
  • His papers dealing with "alternate 'solutions' to historical, societal quandaries" brought Redeker to the attention of the South African apartheid government back in the 80s, and they hired him to revise the government's "Plan Orange," a secret plan commissioned by the white ruling class to deal with an uprising by the majority, but underprivileged, black population.
  • By 1984, Redeker had completely updated "Plan Orange" to the ultimate survival plan. He even determined who would be the survivors.
  • The Interviewer asks about that last bit, and Azania points out that Redeker believed trying to save everyone would stretch and ultimately waste resources, dooming everyone. To ensure this wouldn't happen, he calculated who should and who should not be saved.
  • A Vulcan could not have devised a plan more logical and emotionless. It was called Orange Eighty-Four. People hated him for it.
  • After the apartheid government fell, Redeker went into hiding since he wasn't the most popular fellow on the block.
  • Then the Great Panic hit, One day, Redeker found a bunch of agents from the National Intelligence Agency had busted down his door demanding to know if he was the writer of Orange Eighty-Four.
  • Redeker assumed they were there to kill another apartheid stooge, but they actually wanted to see if he had a plan for the zombie shenanigans.
  • He did!
  • The plan was simple. Step 1: you can't save everyone; don't try. Instead, create a safe zone, preferably one where natural obstacles like mountains and rivers work to your advantage.
  • Step 2, evacuate the civilians. Not all the civilians, mind you. Just enough to keep the safe zone supplied with a labor force and to rebuild after the war.
  • Step 3, throw everyone else into isolated zones. Their mission is to act as human bait, drawing off the zombies away from the safe zone. These people are to be resupplied as needed. After all, the longer they fight the zombies and the more they kill, the less the safe zone will have to deal with later.
  • The NIA agents whisked him off to read his report to the president's cabinet. They were mildly offended at the suggestions.
  • The president is more than mildly offended—he's actually ticked off and can't believe they brought this guy to him. Everyone is confused, believing the president put in the order.
  • Nope, it was another statesman named Rolihlahla. He proclaimed that Redeker and his plan would save them all. Then he hugs Redeker.
  • Azania notes that historians continue to assume Redeker was a man without emotions or a heart or even a soul, but one guy, Biko, actually believes Redeker's war against emotion was to barricade himself from the world's insanity.
  • Either way, that was the last day anyone ever saw Paul Redeker. No one knows what happened to him, and a few days later, the Redeker Plan was put into action with Azania in charge.
  • After their talk, the Interviewer takes a ferry to the mainland. He enters the Robben Island Psychiatric Institution. The name of the patient he's visiting? Paul Redeker.

Part 2

Armagh, Ireland

  • The Interviewer accidently bumps into Philip Adler in the bar of their hotel. Philip agrees to tell the Interviewer his Z-War story.
  • In Hamburg, the stage was set with all the familiar trappings. Refugees had come to escape by thousands hoping to jump ship but were now trapped by the thousands. The zed-heads clogged every inch of the city and harbor.
  • Philip had secured a command post at the Renaissance Hotel, and his men were doing everything they could: attaining resources, barricades, and civilian training—a.k.a. the ABCs of a zombie attack.
  • Then the orders to retreat came in. Nothing unusual there, since they'd been losing ground to the zombies.
  • But the rally point was unusual, being practically in Denmark. And the transmission came coded and not on an open channel. That was odd. Also, they were under strict instructions not to bring the civilians.
  • My, my, how the plot thickens.
  • Philip called back to confirm and found himself speaking to General Lang. Yes, the General Lang…whoever that is.
  • Lang confirmed the orders.
  • Philip finds it funny now. He'd accepted everything that had happen up to that point, zombies and all, but he could not accept that they'd been ordered to abandon civilians.
  • He told the general he won't obey. Lang yelled that he'd charge them with treason and the punishment would come with "Russian efficiency" (5.2.9). Remember how efficient they were, right?
  • Philip gave in—not because of the threat of punishment but because he couldn't ask his men to die in that place. Hey, the Renaissance Hotel is pretty nice hotel. We can think of worse dumps to die in.
  • The civilians didn't take it so well. They didn't try to follow—what with the zombies muddling about in the streets—but they did a fair amount of yelling and took the occasional potshot at the tanks.
  • Philip and his men passed some soldiers covering their retreat. He didn't know it them, but those guys were some of the expendables called for in the Redeker Plan. Philip knew the commanding officer of this outfit, as the man saved his life in Serbia.
  • Philip decided he had to kill General Lang.
  • He tells the Interviewer he had the whole thing planned out. He'd walk in, all calm like, and listen to the General. When Lang rose to shake his hand—blam-o, minus one general.
  • Philip swears he wasn't just going to follow orders like a stooge.
  • But it didn't pan out. Once General Lang heard the report saying everyone had made it to the safe zone, he signed some papers, wrote a letter to his family, and then shot himself, saving Philip the effort and a bullet.
  • Philip states he hates the man even more now, and the Interviewer asks why.
  • He says it's because he now understands the Prochonow Plan (a.k.a. German's take on the Redeker Plan).
  • The Interviewer asks why he doesn't sympathize with the man.
  • Philip believes they could have used men like General Lang on the long, hard road, but the man proved to be a coward who didn't take responsibility for his own decisions, and the rest of them had to shoulder the consequences.

Part 3

Yevchenko Veterans' Sanatorium, Odessa, Ukraine

  • The Interviewer finds his next interviewee in a sanatorium in the Ukraine.
  • The Fun Facts: Although it can mean different things, a sanatorium is a hospital for long-term care of chronic diseases, not to be confused with a sanitarium, which has a lot more pool boys bringing you fruity drinks.
  • The interviewee is Bohdan Taras Kondratiuk and, boy, does he have a story to tell.
  • During the Great Panic, Bohdan found himself in Kiev. The city was supposed to have been safe after the chaos he'd seen elsewhere. You know, kick back, relax, down a few brewskies type safe.
  • But the government had turned tail and fled to Crimea, leaving troopers like Bohdan and his people to cover the evacuation. Worse, they took the beer with them.
  • Evacuees clogged the Patona Bridge while confused men in uniforms tried to "process" them, i.e. weed out the zombies-to-be from the civilians. Under equipped and under trained, the military guys were doing their best, but an orderly mob this was not. More like a mobbish mob.
  • Bohdan tried to call for backup. The guy on the other end said backup was coming.
  • On the other side of the river, Kiev burned and the sounds of zombies, gunfights, and disaster echoed.
  • Then Bohdan heard something else—something new. Getting off the radio, he popped his head out in time to see a fighter jet screaming over the city. Backup!
  • The fighters circled on their target, the bridge.
  • Bohdan screamed for everyone to get off the bridge, before leaping into the nearest tank and ordering them to batten down the hatches—or whatever the tank equivalent of battening is.
  • The soldiers inside the tank were legitimately freaked out. Bohdan tried to calm one of them while keeping his eye glued to the periscope.
  • The bridge was hit with RVX, a chemical weapon. As Bohden watched the evacuees fall down dead around the tank, he wondered why their high command would do such a thing.
  • His answer came as soon as the first corpses began to rise, taking their place amongst the undead ranks. High command wanted to separate the infected from the non-infected, and this method proved the most effective … if also the most lethal.
  • Bohdan commanded the gunner to fire on the glut of newly minted ghouls. When they put them down, he gave the order to move out.
  • He remembers the way the bodies popped under the tank treads as they crossed the bridge. Gruesome.
  • The last thing he saw in Kiev was the Great Patriotic War Museum Complex, a gleaming edifice promoting Ukraine's grand military accomplishments of the past.

Part 4

Sand Lakes Provincial Wilderness Park, Manitoba, Canada

  • It's summer in Canada. The zombies have plucked themselves from their frosty graves and are traipsing across Canuck land. Jesika Hendricks—once American now naturalized Canadian—hunts these fair-weather fiends, and the Interviewer tags along with her.
  • She starts her story with a discussion on how she doesn't blame the government for not being able to protect them. Hey, it was an invasion by actual, real-live undead zombies. How do you prepare for that?
  • She only blames them for not properly educating the people, for not dispersing vital, survival information. Here's why.
  • Two weeks after Yonkers, her father was learning how to load his new rifle, her mother was boarding up the windows, and the news media was doing what news does—i.e. being no help whatsoever.
  • That's when her father decided they would migrate north. Since the living dead freeze solid in cold weather, he thought it made as much sense as anything, nay, more sense than anything.
  • Her mom argued, but dad was steadfast, believing it would be more extended camping trip than survivalist perdition.
  • Jesika shows the Interviewer a bunch of cracked DVDs in the ice, noting how the people who came north brought laptops and hair dryers and video games. She doesn't think they thought they'd be useful items to have; they just didn't want to lose their stuff
    Northward bound they went, finishing half of their canned food on the way up.
  • Since her family belonged to the first wave, they didn't have to deal with all the clogged roads and violence people heard about.
  • They did pass many people who simply ran out of gas and wanted a ride. Jesika remembers one lady they did pick up. Her name was Patty.
  • Patty had a wound on her hand. She claimed it was the result of an accident, not a bite, but one night while Jesika was asleep, her parents kicked Patty out of the van. Jesika woke up just in time to see Patty in the rear view mirror, trying to catch up.
  • Jesika saw a lot on the road north, but she knew that once they got far enough north things would be okay—camping fun, moose burgers, lake swims and a pet rabbit, grand stuff.
  • And things were pretty good for a while. They had a campsite on the shore of a lake, food, trees for firewood, and enough people around to make them feel safe. That was before the second and third waves of northward evacuees hit.
  • The Interviewer asks how they planned to survive the winter once the zombies were frozen.
  • Jesika thinks no one thought that far ahead, believing it'd be over before true winter hit.
  • She points to a Spongebob Squarepants sleeping bag and wonders what the heat rating is. She rants against the ignorance of some of the refugees and how they did things to survive that were actually counter-survival.
  • When food grew scarce and the days colder, these people got mean.
  • Fights broke out, stuff got stolen, and, oh yeah, people killed each other. One night, she heard her father fire his gun, though she never asked him what happened.
  • Some of the refugees tried to walk home once the lake froze over. That's right, walk: no more gas.
  • Her dad became more convinced they needed to wait it out.
  • By the by, this all happened by October. By November, the family was starving.
  • One night, her father and mother were fighting. The fight ended when her father traded her survival radio for some stew from a neighboring RV. All that commotion for a bit of stew?
  • Jesika shows the Interviewer a pile of human bones. Broken. With the marrow extracted.
  • She says that by Christmas they had plenty of food to celebrate the holidays—Donner Party style.
  • That was the first Gray Winter. By spring, the sun and the walking dead both came out to greet the survivors.
  • Other team members of the hunting party call Jesika and the Interviewer. They've found a zombie half buried in ice, trying to claw its way out and toward them.
  • Jesika wonders aloud why the zombies can survive freezing solid while human beings can't. Then she crowbars the creature's skull inward.
  • No love lost there it seems.

Part 5

Udaipur Lake Palace, Lake Pichola, Rajasthan, India

  • On the other side of the globe, the Interviewer talks with Sardar Khan. Although a project manager of Udaipur Lake Palace hotel today, he was once a lance corporal in the Indian military.
  • Khan remembers monkeys, lots and lots of monkeys. They were climbing, swinging, leaping and bounding over everything and everyone to get away from the zombies.
  • The refugees were following suit. Only instead of climbing their way out, they had to go by a mountain road, and India's mountain roads can be pretty heinous even on slow days.
  • Case in point, Khan watched as a whole bus tumbled off the pass, bringing its passengers with it.
  • Then Sergeant Mukherjee grabbed him and asked him if he knew how to drive. Unfortunately for Khan, he does. He's shoved into a driver's seat and told to floor it to the pass while Mukherjee fiddles with the radio.
  • Mukherjee mentioned something about charges already set and some order. What did that mean? The charges ere for blowing up the pass, and the orders were for them to do it.
  • Khan remembered the retreat through the Himalayas had to do with some kind of plan (hint, hint). When they got there, Mukherjee cursed that the roads were supposed to be clear. The man in charge of clearing the roads replied he couldn't stop them on account that he didn't feel like shooting everyone.
  • Mukherjee yelled into the radio that the road wasn't clear. The response? The roads would never be clear, and the only thing behind the refugees was a couple million zombies.
  • In came General Raj-Singh, the Tiger of Delhi. Even in the present day, Kahn remains in awe of the man. Apparently, he's awesome.
  • The General explained to them that the road had to be destroyed. If they didn't accomplish their mission, a Jaguar pilot had backup orders to drop a nuclear bomb on the area.
  • Raj-Singh accepted the detonator, thanked the men, and pressed the button. Fizzle, poof, nothing and nada.
  • But did that stop General Raj-Singh? Nope. He leapt into action. Wanting to be heroes too, Khan and Mukherjee leapt into, erm… they leapt, but we can't qualify it as "into action."
  • They completely lost the General in the rush of people. Mukherjee fell over the side of the pass with another man who tried to take his rifle.
  • Khan climbed onto a bus hoping to catch sight of Raj-Singh. He didn't see the General, but he did see those million some odd zombies behind the refugees, coming straight for them.
  • The bus tipped over and sent Khan into the flood of people. They nearly trampled him to death, but he managed to pull himself under the bus.
  • But he wasn't about to die like the others. He drew his sidearm—and just then, an explosion rocked the area around him. Bam! He was knocked out cold.
  • When he came to, he crawled out from beneath the bus. He was alone, the mountain pass blown to bits, the refugees either dead or having moved on. The zombies were still coming for him, but they only cascaded down the newly formed edge.
  • The Tiger of Delhi must have blown the detonators by hand.
  • Khan radioed in that the pass was secure and heard that all the other passes were secure as well. Mission accomplished!
  • A monkey perched on the bus and watched the scene with him. Khan wanted to tell the monkey that this was the turning point of the war. But the monkey peed on him instead. Bad monkey!