Book Reviews

Guts: The Anatomy of The Walking Dead by Paul Vigna


I am obsessed with The Walking Dead.

That’s right. I said it. OBSESSED. I own the entire series, and I make it a point to buy it as soon as I see it hit the shelf. When the latest season isn’t airing (IS IT OCTOBER YET?!), I binge watch the show from start to finish—once a month. (And no, I don’t think that’s excessive at all. My family on the other hand… well, that’s a different story.) I’ve watched it so much, I’ve unintentionally memorized pretty much all of the dialogue. We have a TWD trivia game, but no one wants to play it with me because I always win. I like to point out little inconsistencies on episodes. (Example: “Chupacabra” [season two, episode five] After Daryl Dixon [Norman Reedus] is thrown from his horse, and hallucinates a conversation with his brother, Merle [Michael Rooker]? Pay attention to the dirt on Daryl’s mouth. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not.)

Like I said… obsessed.

Needless to say, when the opportunity came along to read an review copy of GUTS, I was all over it like the walkers who took out the Anderson family in “No Way Out” [season six, episode nine]. I was thrilled to be approved, and promptly tore into it like… well, you know. (And I swear, that is the last time I do that in this review… no more walker jokes. Promise!)

Vigna has put together a comprehensive guide to everything The Walking Dead. From how both the comic and the show came about, to season recaps and the rundown on its phenomenal ratings, and even a bit of philosophy, this book has it all. There are several areas in the book where the author gives detailed thoughts on particular events that happened during the show—such as Glenn Rhee’s (Steven Yeun) miraculous escape from certain death by conveniently hiding under the dumpster after Nicholas’ (Michael Traynor) commits suicide and causes them both to fall off the top of the dumpster into a hungry herd of walkers gathered below. His stance on why it shouldn’t have happened and how the show broke its own ‘rules’ in order to pull it off was one of my favorite parts of the book because the dumpster-death-that-wasn’t annoys the hell out of me every time I see it.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is how a goodly portion of it discusses things of the show that my family and I often talk about. Whether it’s nitpicking little things (like the length of the grass) or discussing mistakes made by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in his role as leader, etc., it was nice to see many of those same topics in the book.

The chapter discussing a Walker Stalker convention in Charlotte, North Carolina was especially fun to read, because it gives the reader a peak into the sincere appreciation the cast members—such as Michael Cudlitz (Abraham Ford) and Josh McDermitt (Eugene Porter), who were there that day—have for fans of the show, and how much they enjoy the time they spend talking to them. (And, likewise, the regard the fans have for the cast members.) Reading about (or better still, experiencing for yourself, if you’re fortunate enough to do so) such genuine warmth and appreciation just makes you feel good as a fan.

There is SO much more to the book than the few things I’ve touched on in this review. Suffice to say that in this reader’s opinion, GUTS: THE ANATOMY OF THE WALKING DEAD would make for a fine addition to your TWD collection. It’s a must have for fans!

So now there are two things to look forward to in October. This book, and the long-awaited start to season eight!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Dey Street Books and Edelweiss.

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Author: Paul Vigna
Title: Guts: The Anatomy of The Walking Dead
Genre: Performing Arts, Television
Publication Date: October 3, 2017 by Dey Street Books
Rating: 5 stars

About the Book

In this first and only guide to AMC’s exceptional hit series The Walking Dead, the Wall Street Journal’s Walking Dead columnist celebrates the show, its storylines, characters, and development, and examines its popularity and cultural resonance.

From its first episode, The Walking Dead took fans in the United States and across the world by storm, becoming the highest-rated series in the history of cable television. After each episode airs, Paul Vigna writes a widely read column in which he breaks down the stories and considers what works and what doesn’t, and tries to discern the small details that will become larger plot points.

So how did a basic cable television show based on a graphic comic series, set in an apocalyptic dog-eat-dog world filled with flesh-eating zombies and even scarier human beings, become a ratings juggernaut and cultural phenomenon? Why is the show such a massive hit? In this playful yet comprehensive guide, Vigna dissect every aspect of The Walking Dead to assess its extraordinary success.

Vigna digs into the show’s guts, exploring its roots, storyline, relevance for fans and the wider popular culture, and more. He explores how the changing nature of television and media have contributed to the show’s success, and goes deep into the zombie genre, delineating why it’s different from vampires, werewolves, and other monsters. He considers why people have found in zombies a mirror for their own fears, and explains how this connection is important to the show’s popularity. He interviews the cast and crew, who share behind-the-scenes tales, and introduces a cross-section of its diverse and rabid viewership, from fantasy nerds to NFL stars. Guts is a must have for every Walking Dead fan.

About the Author

PAUL VIGNA is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and also contributes to the popular MoneyBeat blog. He is the author of two books (with Michael J. Casey), the critically acclaimed The Age of Cryptocurrency and The Blockchain. He lives in Verona, New Jersey, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their son.

8 thoughts on “Guts: The Anatomy of The Walking Dead by Paul Vigna”

  1. I’m going ot have ot get this book! I’m not as big of a fan as you but this book sounds great! And Walker Stalker is quite an experience. I’ve been three times. And being in Atlanta, you know that is the biggest one! Unfortunately we can’t go this year. I ❤ Michael Cudtlitz- he’s my guy!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure that not being as big a fan as I am is such a bad thing… I drive people nuts with the way I am about the show. LOL!

      I’ve always heard Walker Stalker cons are awesome to attend! I doubt I’ll ever have the experience myself, but I love that you’ve been able to go multiple times… that’s awesome!

      I follow Michael Cudlitz on social media, and he seems like a hoot! Gotta love a guy with a great sense of humor and a good heart. 🙂

      And Jessica… seriously… you have to get this book! I think you’ll love it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. DUDE. I LOVE your site! I just read ‘8 Reason Why I Love The Walking Dead’ and it’s awesome…. totally agreed with everyone you wrote. I can see myself spending a lot of time over there in the future. Thank you SO much for the link! And it’s always nice to meet someone who is as obsessed with the show and all the little nuances of it as I am. 🙂

      Yes, definitely, get the book. You’ll love it!


    1. Thank you! I have the same feeling… this one MUST be on my shelves. Mommy needs a book about TWD. LOL

      That dumpster scene… ugh! We talked about it endlessly until it was revealed that Glenn was fine. We agreed there was nothing he could do but slide under the dumpster, but there wasn’t enough clearance (from what I could tell) and then the time it would take to do it… I had almost convinced myself he was a goner. And then that’s exactly what happened. SMH. I hate the dumpster scene. LOL

      It also drove me nuts how they kept teasing Glenn’s death over and over again, only for him to get out of it somehow. A little foreshadowing, like the bat Glenn finds in Richmond, VA, when they took Noah home, works well. But having him come thisclose to death repeatedly just gets annoying, and almost diminishes the full effect of his death on the show, in a way.

      Yes, I can talk about this stuff all day! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I wish it would have been diminished on me some more lol. I still cried like a baby at that seen. He was my favorite haha.

        It is amazing, looking back just how much foreshadowing and other details you pick up on when you look back!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I did, too! I loved Glenn… such a great character all around, and so valuable to the group. It was hard enough watching Abraham die, but then to see it happen to Glenn… when you thought the horror of it all was at an end? I kept saying for weeks that I was traumatized by that episode, and I still am, to a slightly lesser degree. 😢 I just think his death would have hit even harder, if they hadn’t teased it so much. I guess they were hoping to make people think it wouldn’t be him that Negan killed, if they kept it up.

          Catching those subtle nuances is my favorite thing to do when I watch it again. I always focus on different people or areas, to see if I missed something. (Like the ‘Morgan’ street sign in Alexandria that you see over Rick’s shoulder a couple of episodes-ish before Morgan arrives. Loved that!) I’m always finding something new, and it’s so much fun!

          Liked by 1 person

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