Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and "The War of the Worlds" Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America.

  • Type: Books
  • By: Gail Jarrow
  • Age Category: Children
  • Genre: Non-Fiction
  • Recommended by: Tom S.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9781629797762
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Martians Attack New Jersey!

The first time many people of my generation (I was born in 1963) encountered the work of Orson Welles was through a series of television commercials for Paul Masson wineries, in which the heavy, bearded actor proclaims in a rich baritone that the company “Will sell no wine . . . before its time.” 
Given that corny introduction, I was shocked when I learned that Welles was, in his heyday, a creative genius responsible for what is widely considered the greatest movie of all time (Citizen Kane), and was also the guy who once produced a radio drama so chillingly real that it sent hundreds of Americans heading for the hills because they believed the U.S. was being invaded by Martians.
This book tells the story of that broadcast.  We see the tempestuous Welles and his associates working against the clock to adapt the science fiction novel into a working radio play that fit within the allotted time limits.  Meanwhile, the author gives her readers a sense of what was happening in the fall of 1938 that contributed to the panic.  Unease over Hitler’s increasingly aggressive land grabs, residual anxiety from a deadly hurricane that had hammered the east coast only weeks before, and a legacy of economic stress from the Great Depression all made for a population fearful about the next bad news that might be coming over the radio waves at any moment.
This book is aimed at young people, but anyone interested in 20th century American history will find it worth a look.