Expert Max Brooks protects NMU from Zombies

Alisa Fox

As students walk around campus these days, they can expect to hear a few conversations about zombies. This may be because our world seems to be at the brink of a zombie apocalypse, but more likely it is because Max Brooks, the preeminent zombie expert, will be coming to Northern’s campus to speak.

And who wouldn’t want to hear about the 10 basic rules to zombie survival or learn how to properly use a katana to defend his or herself? It seems almost as unreal as the things you seen movies or read in books.

“The Zombie Survival Guide” gives readers advice about how to protect oneself in the event of a zombie attack. It details plans about where to go, what transportation is safest and how to live in a world dominated by zombies. At the end of the book is a fictional list of documented zombie attacks in that have occurred in the past. Readers will be able to choose the right defensive weapons, killing techniques and know what to do when on the defense or attack. Brooks gives the advice, “Organize before they rise!”

“They’re just plain scary,” said Brooks, the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. “Zombies are popular because we’re living in such uncertain times. It gives us a safe way to explore the apocalypse, but at the end of the night, we can close the book and sleep safe and sound in our beds.”

Regardless, Brooks still considers it his civic duty to keep the general public informed about the natures of zombies. This is evident in the three books he has written; “The Zombie Survival Guide,” “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War,” and his latest novel “The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.”

Brooks has specific inspiration for his survival guides. “Back before you were born, Y2K was a common fear, and there were all of these books about how to survive the chaos. I thought, ‘What about zombies?’ They were as likely as anything, but there were no books on how to survive a zombie attack. So I went and wrote one myself.”

To compliment the work he does through his books, he also tours the country, giving lectures on the “Ten Rules to Survive a Zombie Attack,” and giving very detailed demonstrations on how exactly to protect your self with a katana and a variety of other techniques.

“We will be getting down and dirty and detailed about how to survive an attack, where to go during an apocalypse, and most importantly how to start your own zombie protection groups,” said Brooks in regards to this Thursday’s presentation here on campus. “Students will come and they will walk out knowing how to protect themselves, their friends, and their families.”

Platform Personalities is the club that is responsible for bringing Brooks to NMU among others  to speak on a variety of topics.

“We just try to bring something different to campus,” commented Glen Farmer, a sociology and liberal arts major and a third year member of Platform Personalities.

Max Brooks is definitely something different for our campus, although not entirely unknown. In an attempt to generate ideas for this year’s speakers, Platform Personalities distributed surveys during this summer’s freshman orientations and initiated a Facebook poll. Brooks came out on top each time.

“World War Z” describes the history a zombie pandemic that turned into a decade-long war through a series of oral interviews. The infection spread worldwide, and an ineffective vaccine gave the United States a false sense of comfort. The battle against the zombies meant a different defensive approach from each country; all of the countries eventually come together to reclaim their territory and defeat the zombies. There are plans for a movie adaptation of “World War Z” within the next couple years, starring Brad Pitt and Milo Ventimiglia.

“To be honest, everywhere I go, I hear about Max Brooks, the zombie guy, coming up. We can’t even keep the posters on the walls,” Farmer said.

It’s not just the students who are excited about seeing a zombie expert. The Platform Personalities club is also getting excited about hosting Brooks’ survival presentation.

“I’ll admit that I am fairly new to the world of zombies,” said Rachel Harris, associate director for the Center for Student Enrichment (CSE), and who has been the adviser to Platform Personalities for about 15 years. “I’m excited and really curious to see where (Brooks’) presentation is going to go. I think it’ll be more of a lighthearted lecture. It’s going to be very fun.

Max Brooks is not the only speaker that Platform Personalities plans to host this year. Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere, and Jeff Corwin, the host for Animal Planet, are also expected to appear on Northern’s campus.

“I’d just like to encourage every student to go to these lectures. These are very engaging people,” said Harris. “Most of these speakers’ lectures are more like a conversation, and they usually include some sort of food for thought to leave with. Take advantage of these opportunities.”

To see Max Brooks in action, come to the Great Lakes Room in the University Center on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. to hear him speak live about the 10 lessons to surviving a zombie attack. Admittance is free to NMU students with their ID and $2 for the general public.

For more information about Max Brooks or any of the other speakers that Platform Personalities will be hosting, go to the Center for Student Enrichment’s website at