Max Brooks on WWI, the Harlem Hellfighters, Zombies & Him
Max Brooks’s own military service was cut short after a year in the ROTC (pronated feet), but he’s a serious student of warfare and military history. He’s written about those subjects fictionally in his novel World War Z and factually in The Harlem Hellfighters. The latter, a graphic novel that cracked the NYT best-seller list earlier this year, tells the story of a heroic black U.S. regiment in World War One who fought the Germans abroad and racism at home. Max and I talked about the Hellfighters and the nature of bigotry then and now. Also:
- His thoughts on the “Great War” and its lingering impact on the U.S., 100 years (almost to the week) after its outbreak.
- The responsibilities of war-waging and nation-building.
- Our shared affection for Studs Terkel and his oral histories.
- The popularity of Zombie fiction. Max has been described as the “best-selling zombie writer of all time.”
- His own battles with dyslexia, self-doubt and the stigma of being a “legacy kid” (he’s the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft).
- His current efforts to turn the Harlem Hellfighters into a movie.
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Members of the 369th Infantry Regiment, aka “The Harlem Hellfighters”