Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America
Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America

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Annotation: Describes the panic induced when listeners believed Orson Welles' radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" to be news of an alien invasion, discussing the context in which the broadcast was aired and why it was so convincing.
Catalog Number: #171196
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 139 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-629-79776-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-3155-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-629-79776-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-3155-3
Dewey: 791.44
LCCN: 2018933314
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
In 1938, Orson Welles's War of the Worlds radio broadcast caused widespread panic and hysteria. Jarrow infuses her tightly plotted narrative with plenty of drama and suspense while weaving in sufficient background information, biographical vignettes, and play-by-play commentary to establish context. She concludes with a discussion of some subsequent hoaxes. Despite the book's somewhat stodgy design, it's an admirable feat of nonfiction storytelling. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., ind.
Publishers Weekly
Jarrow (Bubonic Panic) sets the stage perfectly in this detailed, illuminating exploration of why ordinary Americans panicked when they heard a broadcast of New Jersey being invaded by Martians on Oct. 30, 1938. Under the direction of 23-year-old Orson Welles, a CBS radio enactment of H.G. Wells-s The War of the Worlds shifted the story-s timing to the near future and its placement to real New York-area locations. Artfully employed time-warping dramatic techniques made the story appear to be a live event-complete with faked reassurance from Franklin D. Roose-velt-and listeners across the country fell for the Halloween Eve prank. While the production launched Welles-s Hollywood career, popular reactions ranged from outrage to headshaking at people-s gullibility. Jarrow-s engrossing analysis of an earlier era-s -fake news- provides timely reminders to readers, which are underscored in her author-s note. An extensive -More to Explore- section, illustrations from a 1906 edition of Wells-s novel, period photos, timeline, source notes, and a bibliography round out this handsome volume. Ages 10-14. (Aug.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 7 Up With a succinct and engaging story, Jarrow informs readers about the 1938 The War of the Worlds broadcast and why it became so famous. Opening on Halloween Eve, with details about the geopolitical tensions and the growing influence of radio, Jarrow contextualizes the climate in which the program aired. By using short chapters, varied font sizes, quotes, photographs, and illustrations from the source materialH.G. Wells's novelshe keeps readers involved in the fact-packed story. The chapter on the live broadcast is masterfully written in a style similar to an annotated transcript, with unobtrusive interjections that reveal clues for listeners that the radio show is a fictional narrative. The unvarnished profiles of the major contributors to the production humanize them, and it is illuminating to see the efforts of the team, which included two women. Jarrow effectively uses full-page spreads with excerpts of letters written to the Federal Communications Commission and Orson Welles that communicate the divided reactions to the broadcast. A discussion of the show's legacy, journalism, and noted hoaxes allows readers to evaluate current events in light of this notorious event. Jarrow concludes with a well-organized list of online resources. VERDICT A skillfully written title that deserves space in middle and high school libraries. Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
In an era of alternative facts and fake news, telling the story of the infamous 1938 radio broadcast that convinced thousands of Americans a real-time Martian invasion of Earth was occurring could not be timelier. In a finely detailed narrative nearly as riveting as the broadcast, Jarrow chronicles how a radio drama based on H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players and broadcast on the night before Halloween, sent thousands of listeners who believed they were hearing breaking news about an alien invasion into a panic. Researchers later found that fewer than one-third of the frightened listeners understood the reports to be about an alien attack; most assumed the reports were about either a German invasion or a natural catastrophe. None listened long enough to hear one of four announcements made during the broadcast that it was a dramatization. Welles and his producing partner, John Houseman, were shocked to learn about the reaction to the program. The broadcast sparked a national discussion about fake news, propaganda, and the role of radio. Members of Congress proposed more government regulation of the medium. Jarrow deftly connects history to current events by comparing the phenomenon to contemporary fake-news controversies and ongoing freedom-of-press debates. Attractively designed, the text is complemented with archival photos of the broadcast and illustrated scenes from Wells' original story.A grippingly told story that adeptly makes history fascinatingly relevant to the present. (timeline, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Orson Welles and his colleagues were certain their radio broadcast of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds would be a flop. Instead, on Halloween eve 1938, it shook the nation with fear of alien attack. Why were Americans so gullible? Notable nonfiction author Jarrow (Fatal Fever, 2015) sets the stage, or rather the living rooms, for a time when listening to radio broadcasts ranked as the country's favorite pastime. With intriguing details, complemented by rarely seen archival photos and illustrated scenes from Wells' original story, she explains how this medium worked and how actor Orson Welles designed, directed, and voiced popular radio dramas, along with the other writers, performers, and sound technicians for the Mercury Theatre program. Jarrow then pieces together the script and performance, highlighting elements used to heighten the tension. Numerous and astounding reactions to the panic, including an influx of emergency telephone calls, are also described. Although interesting in its own right, the author extrapolates on this phenomenon, comparing it to today's fake-news controversy. In this vein, readers can see how some panicked listeners didn't check other sources, while others enjoyed the drama by following its clues. Ensuing freedom of the press debates and a sampling of modern-day social media hoaxes extend the theme. An enriching bridge that connects history with current events.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Word Count: 24,091
Reading Level: 7.2
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.2 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 199708 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 1000L

A 2019 Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book * A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year * A Booklist Editors' Choice * A Washington Post Best Children's Book * A BCCB Blue Ribbon * A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books

In this nonfiction title for young readers, acclaimed author Gail Jarrow explores in riveting detail the famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast from 1938, highlighting the artists behind the broadcast, the broadcast itself, the aftermath, and the repercussions of "fake news" today.

On the night of October 30, 1938, thousands of Americans panicked when they believed that Martians had invaded Earth. What appeared to be breaking news about an alien invasion was in fact a radio drama based on H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players. Some listeners became angry once they realized they had been tricked, and the reaction to the broadcast sparked a national discussion about fake news, propaganda, and the role of radio. In this compelling nonfiction chapter book, Gail Jarrow explores the production of the broadcast, the aftermath, and the concept of fake news in the media.


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