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on February 7, 2008
A remarkable study of the zombie-condition traced back to its original vector, an infected mammoth, that unwittingly shambled across the primeval hunting grounds of our ancient ancestors and into infamy, History is Dead tracks mankind's most gruesome affliction as it spreads, raising our dead across the continents, bridging cultures, and shedding light on ancient mysteries, like the Celtic peat bog-mummies in "The Gingerbread Man", and crossing paths with iconic greatness, in "The Loaned Ranger" and "The Summer of 1816". The zombie proves itself to be an effective weapon of war, in "The Barrow Maid", as well as a lover worth dying for, in Carole Lanham's wonderfully necrotic zombie-romance, "The Moribund Room".

A brilliant theme and an outstanding collection, History is Dead may arguably be one of the most noteworthy horror anthologies of 2007, and surely a contender for this year's Stoker Award nominations.
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VINE VOICEon December 25, 2007
I typically avoid trying to review Anthologies, simply because I feel that each story deserves to be taken on its own merits. I have read most of the zombie anthologies out there and have enjoyed all of them...some have some stories that really knock my socks off while others are just interesting and creative.
With the theme of history here, what we are served up is a dark menu of treats tied in with some of the major events in history. The Black Plague, the real genius behind the creation of Frankenstein, the great Chicago fire, etc. All of these events, along with several more personalized stories unrelated to figures of major historical prominence give us a tome of Alternative Histories that is quite intriguing.
It is challenging, to say the least, to be knowledgeable enough of a time period and the details of how people lived to be able to embellish upon the known history effectively with the injection of the living dead. That each of these authors boldly ventured forth to do so here certainly shows both an appreciation for history and a willingness to stand it on its head for the purposes of macabre entertainment.
From the start I have to say I really enjoyed the creative flare I saw with these stories-David Dunwoody's flashback to prehistory, Raoul Wainscoting's creative use of Shakespeare, Johnathan Maberry's creative take on a little fire in Chicago and most of the others had me grinning at the enthusiasm everyone had to come up with some really fun ideas.
I think that a book like this could easily be expanded with future editions, if these authors and others are up to the task of coming up with even more tales from other areas of history. The source material is endless.
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on February 11, 2009
Speaking as a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre (definitely a big fan of the post-apocalyptic zombie genre), I liked most of the stories, though there were a few I wasn't crazy about (much like The Living Dead anthology). However, I'm not sure why the post-apocalyptic genre was even invoked by previous reviewers. It's not a post-apocalyptic book and the assumption that a fan who likes post-apocalyptic zombies would hate this book because it isn't post-apocalyptic is rather silly and narrow-minded.

The theme of the book is a chronological progression of zombie influence throughout human history, whether walking dead infestation or simply one dead person inspiring/affecting the living. If it went all World War Z on us in the first story, the human race would have ended with the cavemen and there would be no rest of the book. It's an interesting way to assemble an anthology and I'm glad to see a zombie anthology that put a lot more thought into how the book was presented than the "let's throw a bunch of stories with dead people into a volume and call it a zombie anthology" method that too many seem to use.

If the only thing you like about the zombie genre is post-apocalypse, shooting-your-way-out stories, then pretty much ignore this because you'll probably just think it's uninteresting "trash." But if you're into the zombie genre as a whole, then I highly recommend this book as an interesting collection of the versatility of the zombie genre as literature rather than brain-eating schlock.
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on February 8, 2008
I am usually not too keen on short stories; they tend to leave me feeling unsatisfied. But, after reading "Dying to Live" by Kim Paffenroth, I had to get my hands on "history is Dead"! The first story starts out with prehistoric man and the zombie influence. The stories just travel through time from there. From Vikings, Jack the Ripper, the great Plague, the Chicago fire, and so many more creative twists and turns, you just don't have a chance to get bored by this book! I love apocalyptic/end of the world stories, and naturally zombies would fall into that category. If you like zombie stories, you can't go wrong with this book. It is so well put together, with a funny little "About the Authors" at the end. The cover is so creepy, I had to put it face down on my bookshelf at night!
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on December 18, 2010
History is Dead is a very fun read. While zombie fiction may not be exactly cutting edge, keep in mind Skipp and Spector's tremendous Book of the Dead was released in the late `80's. History is Dead treads in those gore-filled footprints and does so with originality.
My favorites were as follows:
"The Reluctant Prometheus" - zombie wooly mammoth
"The Barrow Maid" - undead Vikings
"The Moribund Room" - love demands sacrifice
"Summer of 1816" - the origin for Shelley's Frankenstein revealed
"Junebug" - sins of the father come back to haunt
"Pegleg and Paddy Save the World" - A cows, a comet, a pair of drunks, and the Chicago fire
"Awake in the Abyss" - the Ripper's victim have their revenge
"The Travellin' Show" - the carnival comes to a town already visited by tragedy
"Edison's Dead Men" - the unimagined truth about Thomas Alva
This collection is well worth picking up.
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on November 24, 2007
When I was asked to read History is Dead for a possible blurb, I was hesitant. I have to admit that there's been a lot of Zombie novels and stories published recently and I was concerned that this would be another rehash of mindless flesh eating zombie shooting. I'm pleased to say that I was wrong. This is a tremendous anthology. Although each story deserves individual credit, I especially liked the contributions from David Dunwoody and James Roy Daley.

"Dr. Paffenroth is a shining literary light who has stitched together an anthology of the undead that will live far beyond anything that has come before. Each entry is a marvel to behold." -Weston Ochse, author of Scarecrow Gods and VAMPIRE OUTLAW OF THE MILKY WAY
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on February 23, 2011
I liked a dozen out of the 20 tales here but the writing from all contributors is top notch. If you like the idea of history being retold to include zombies, this should be in your collection. Very gory at times but also profound.
This is one of the better horror anthologies I have come across.
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on January 23, 2009
There are a few zombie fiction anthologies out on the market right now...but I'd have to say this one beats them all hands down.
The premise, the variety of authors and writing styles, the trip through time....very, very original.
And many of these stories are just absolutely fantastic and haunting. This is not simply a bunch of gross-out authors trying to one-up each other with predictable gore and head shots. Many of the stories in this collection truly stretch the definition of "zombie". There are also some wildly creative spins on historical incidents that the authors give a "zombie twist" to.
Quite possibly Permuted Press's best offering to date.
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on July 3, 2012
Zombies have coexisted with humans since before the birth of h. sapiens - that is, if we're to believe the team of "crack historians" behind HISTORY IS DEAD: A ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY, edited by Kim Paffenroth (2007). And why not, when believing is such bloody good fun?

While at least half of the twenty stories found in HISTORY IS DEAD take place in the past 200 years - with America and Europe proving popular settings - the rest stretch as far back as the Pleistocene epoch. ("This Reluctant Prometheus," in which members of the homo ergaster species become infected with zombie-ism after consuming an infected wooly mammoth, is one of my favorites.) Zombies are credited for bringing humans the gift of fire, rescuing a Viking kingdom from insurrection, inspiring budding horror author Mary Shelly, and administering vigilante justice to Jack the Ripper. They appear on Civil War battlefields and in East End slums. They infiltrate the United States government in their quest for gooooold. (An "Indian" curse gone weird. Don't ask.) The Great Fire of Chicago? Started by zombies, the first of which was created when Biela's Comet rained a mysterious green rock onto (and into) Pat "Paddy" O'Leary's Aunt Sophie. Zombies, it seems, are all around us.

As always, anthologies are difficult to review, since you're apt to take a shining to some pieces more than others. Overall, HISTORY IS DEAD is a quick, enjoyable, entertaining read - perfect for a morbid Saturday afternoon at the beach. I polished it off in under a week, which is near-record speed for me. Though they share a common theme, each story in this collection is unique. In some, zombies make a brief, even ancillary cameo - while in others they serve as the story's protagonists. A bloody, gory, over-the-top collection of shoot-`em-up zombie tales this is not.

In fact, it could be argued that zombies aren't even the scariest monsters to be found within the pages of HISTORY IS DEAD. Take, for example, "Junebug" - which comes with a major trigger warning - in which a preacher (at the End Times Church, natch) uses the looming zombie apocalypse as a pretense to sexually enslave one of his young parishioners (June or "Junebug" of the story's title). After several months of living with him - with her parents' permission, ostensibly to babysit his children due to his wife's illness - she becomes pregnant from the repeated rapes. Cast out by the preacher, she finds no solace from her family, as they blame her for "seducing" her rapist. June and her sole defender, brother Ethan, ultimately meet a gory end - and yet, even at their "worst," the reader has more sympathy for the zombie siblings than for their human victims.

I found a similar pleasure in "Awake in the Abyss," which finds Jack the Ripper's "canonical five" victims - Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly - along with a sixth woman, narrator Nelly, awakening from the grave in order to avenge their deaths...as only zombies can. I bet you never thought you'd find yourself rooting so enthusiastically for the zombies, eh?
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on August 18, 2010
I've wanted to read this since it first came out. It is a collection of zombie tales set during various historical periods. The zombies between these covers are no mere mindless flesh-eaters; they grieve for their still-living lovers, crave earthly revenge and inspire art, novels and plays. As you might expect, some stories interested me more than others. Just about all of my favorite stories were contained in the first half of the book, but even the stories I considered to be `alright' could probably be another reader's standouts.

Christine Morgan's The Barrow Maid (a Viking piece) and Carole Lanham's The Moribund Room (Tudor England, I believe) are two of the best in the book; also, Theatre is Dead by Raoul Wainscotting gets special mention because I laughed repeatedly at the audience's ignorance. John Maberry's Pegleg and Paddy Save the World, which tells the "true story" of the Chicago fire, could have been written especially for me, with my love of whiskey and my Celtic heritage. All in all an easy 4.5/5.
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