Spooked: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America by Gail Jarrow

Published by Calkins Creek

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Summary:  In chapter one, readers learn of a mysterious radio broadcast on October 30, 1938, reporting that the United States had been invaded and was quickly being destroyed.  They soon find out that this was actually a radio play based on H. G. Wells’ science fiction novel The War of the Worlds about invaders from Mars.  Orson Welles and his team at CBS radio’s Mercury Theater adapted the story to sound like it was actually happening, simulating broadcasts from New Jersey that broke into a musical program.  No one was prepared for the panic that ensued, as many people across America believed that the invasion was real. Jarrow reports on the variety of reactions, including letters and telegrams sent to CBS and Welles, some critical and others complimentary of the program.  She also looks at the exaggerated reporting that made it sound as though the panic was much more widespread than it actually was. Includes a timeline; information about other hoaxes; links to the original broadcast, script, and other source materials; an author’s note; and source notes.  144 pages; grades 5-9.

Pros:  This well-researched book with lots of photos brings the events of October 30, 1938 to life and ties them into today’s world of fake news and Internet hoaxes.  

Cons:  The font was a little small.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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