The Martians Are Coming!

The Martians Are Coming!

The True Story of Orson Welles' 1938 Panic Broadcast

Book - 2011
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It was Halloween 1938 when twenty-three-year-old Orson Welles fooled America into thinking it had been invaded by aliens. The Mercury Theatre on the Air production of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds has become one of the most talked-about broadcasts in the history of the radio. It resulted in mass panic across America.
Publisher: Stroud, Gloucestershire [England] : Amberley, 2011.
ISBN: 9781445602233
Branch Call Number: 791.4472 GA
Characteristics: 159 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


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May 20, 2014

I am of the generation just after the one in which this event occurred. Now with TV, flash news, the internet etc., it is very hard to imagine how this could be possible.

The Martians are coming! excels in doing just that. It chronicles who Orson Welles and John Houseman (yes that John Houseman!) working together as unknowns before the broadcast; the evolution of the Mercury Theatre company from stage shows to radio; the development of the script and sound effects and more; all the way through the aftermath and fallout afterwards.

It also does a pretty convincing job about the times and conditions that made this event so unique. For more than a few the radio was the sole means of contact with the world at large, for news and entertainment.

I learned so much that I did not know (which I won't spoil for you) that I could not put the book down. Incredibly, the book is only 160 pages long and wastes no time with padding and rightly so. It doesn't need it. And the pictures interspersed throughout the text even including some pages of Orson Welles' directorial script!

This book is for anyone looking for a historical presentation about the broadcast, and also anyone with moderate interest in what transpired.

Hoax? Or not? You be the judge!


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