CAHSS Student Book Review: "An Ethical Guidebook to the Zombie Apocalypse" by Bryan Hall
Review by Zachary Lien
“You already know what is necessary to survive, but what many lack are the tools necessary to flourish among the undead,” says the professor in Bryan Hall’s “An Ethical Guidebook to the Zombie Apocalypse” (Bloomsbury, 2020). Hall (BA ’98), an alumnus of the University of Denver’s Philosophy Department, shares a similar background with his character, a philosophy professor with the additional experience of surviving a zombie apocalypse.
In the book, the professor writes a document to explore and explain the decisions required for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. The professor grabs the reader’s attention by laying out the problem he hopes to solve: “If what you do to survive undermines your capacity to flourish, it is unclear how you are different from the zombies… If your existence is no better than the zombies you must constantly battle, why not give up the fight and join their ranks?”
The book goes on to explore some of the moral conundrums inherent to survival, such as: How does one consider killing and death? How does one weigh the needs of the few versus the plenty? Or the needs of loved ones, living and dead? How much humanity exists in a zombie, and how much humanity exists in those who fight zombies?
While addressing these other questions, the professor explores philosophical theories. In one of many “field exercises,” the professor describes how egoism informs our aversion to — or our ability to reconcile with — cannibalism. These field exercise offer a wanted explanation of the professor’s perspective and the possible outcomes for each situation.
Additionally, the professor ties in his experience with current events. The fictitious President of Mexico, President Mentemuro — a combination of “mind” and “wall” in Spanish — is quoted as saying the people sending zombie immigrants to their country are “not sending their best.” By analyzing President Mentemuro, the professor observes and critiques the role of leadership in times of crisis.
This expertly structured book is as absorbing as a work of horror as it is intriguing as a work of philosophy. Hall makes the sometimes-knotty field of philosophy feel relevant, pressing and downright amusing. "An Ethical Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" stands as a remarkable contribution to the horror genre as well as an indispensable read for those studying ethics and philosophy.
Bryan Hall is Academic Dean of the School for Professional Advancement and a Professor of Liberal Arts at Regis University. He is a two-time Fulbright Scholar and the author of three books: "An Ethical Guidebook to the Zombie Apocalypse: How to Keep Your Brain without Losing Your Heart" (Bloomsbury, 2020), "The Post-Critical Kant" (Routledge, 2014) and "The Arguments of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason" (Lexington Books, 2010). In addition to his books, Dr. Hall has published several articles on Kant’s philosophy and has presented his work at dozens of national and international conferences. He received his PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder and his BA from the University of Denver.
Are you a current student interested in reviewing the book of a CAHSS alumus/a? Email Laura.Miller@du.edu for more information.