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

Gail Jarrow. Calkins Creek, $18.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-62979-776-2
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. Roosevelt—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.)
Reviewed on: 06/18/2018
Release date: 08/07/2018
Genre: Children's
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