Max Brooks | PDA Speakers

Max Brooks

Problem-Solving Thought Leader, Zombie Lore Expert, & Best-Selling Author

Using fictional metaphor (like zombie lore) and historical events to facilitate discourse around large-scale problem-solving, Brooks explores new ways to attack old problems as well as new concerns.

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Using fictional metaphor (like zombie lore) and historical events to facilitate discourse around large-scale problem-solving, Brooks explores new ways to attack old problems as well as new concerns. On stage, as in his writing, Brooks tackles the tougher questions—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 of these entities can—and should—be prepared to do not only to survive, but to thrive in the face of real-world threats, disasters, and the otherwise unexpected.

In a separate program focusing on education, Max shares how he overcame his own self-esteem issues and struggles with schoolwork to become a best-selling author and highly sought-after expert on post-apocalyptic survival strategies.

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 GuideWorld War Z, and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (all of which are now considered definitive tomes of the genre) and published his fourth, Minecraft: The Island: A Novel in July 2017—Brooks’ ultimate goal was to challenge older ways of thinking and encourage mental agility and flexibility for problem solvers and leaders. The unique, unconventional thinking discernible 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.

Brooks explored the consequences of failed leadership, making the leap from mythos to American History with his 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.

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.”

Brooks is currently serving as a Non-Resident Fellow for the Modern War Institute at West Point.

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    Leadership Lessons from WWI to WWZ

    Recorded Attacks: Major Zombie Attacks From the Dawn of Humanity

    FIGHTING WWD: Overcoming Dyslexia

    10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack


    Max Brooks Has Been Called The 'Zombie Laureate'


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