Problem-solving Thought Leader, Zombie Lore Expert, Best-selling Author
As a best-selling author, Max Brooks is credited with helping propel zombie-lore from niche sub-culture fascination to mainstream pop-culture obsession. While Brooks has published three massively successful zombie-themed books—The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z, and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (all of which are now considered the definitive tomes for the genre)—Brooks’ ultimate goal was to challenge old ways of thinking and encourage mental agility and flexibility for problem solvers and leaders. Brooks’ unique, unconventional thinking depicted in his books has even inspired the U.S. military to examine how they may respond to potential crises in the future. ‘Survival Guide’ was read and discussed by the sitting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Brooks has been invited to speak at a variety of military engagements—from the Naval War College, to the FEMA hurricane drill at San Antonio, to the nuclear “Vibrant Response” wargame. By developing the dystopian mythos of a “zombie apocalypse” in film and literature, Brooks continues to drive the dialogue as an authority on how to manage and coordinate emergency responses and to suggest better ways to prepare for crisis and struggle.
Today, Brooks explores the consequences of failed leadership, making the leap from mythos to American History with the release of his latest book, The Harlem Hellfighters. The graphic novel chronicles the little-known story of the first African-American regiment mustered to fight in WWI. They spent longer than any other American unit in combat and displayed remarkable valor on the battlefield. Despite extraordinary struggles and overt racism, the ‘Hellfighters’, as their enemies named them, became one of the most successful—but least celebrated—regiments of the war. Once again, Brooks drills down to help find what lessons can be learned from the triumph and tragedy of the Harlem Hellfighters.
At the Podium
Using fictional metaphor (like zombie lore) and historical events to prompt serious discourse on large-scale problem-solving, Brooks explores new ways to attack old problems and new concerns. On stage, as with his writing, Brooks tackles the tougher questions, like what are the threads that hold society together, and what’s really at stake when those threads are stressed, loosed, or torn. From the basic responsibilities of civilians and corporations to the over-arching role of government and the military, Brooks sheds light on what each can—and should—be prepared to do, to not only survive, but thrive in the face of real-world threats, disaster, and the unexpected.
The son of Hollywood legends Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, Max Brooks is dedicated challenging and encouraging systems and institutions to think outside the box when problem solving. Even his fiction, while undeniably entertaining, works to raise awareness on the issues of disaster preparedness, crisis management, and survival for the common reader—all under the thematic guise of a zombie apocalypse.
Born in New York City in 1972, Brooks’ introduction to the living dead began with a traumatic childhood incident, an incident he still refuses to discuss. Since that time, he has devoted much of his life to the study and development of “anti-ghoul” security, culminating in a genuine interest in the fundamentals and logistics that go into keeping our world safe from natural and man-made disaster threats.
After working for the BBC in Great Britain and East Africa, Brooks began writing The Zombie Survival Guide. Brooks’ New York Times best-seller, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War), has been made into a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt. The book tells the story of the world’s desperate battle against the zombie threat with a series of first-person accounts “as told to the author” by various characters around the world. Publishers Weekly called the novel “surprisingly hard to put down.”
A former writer for Saturday Night Live, Brooks lives in southern California with his wife, Michelle, and their son.