Waging The War of the Worlds

A History of the 1938 Radio Broadcast and Resulting Panic, Including the Original Script


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About the Book

The 1938 Orson Welles broadcast of The War of the Worlds was a landmark in the history of entertainment, sparking public hysteria in America and a series of broadcasts around the world that elicited similar responses. This book examines all aspects of the historic broadcast in depth, including fascination with Mars, H.G. Wells’ novel, Orson Welles and the making of the broadcast, initial reactions and the resulting “fog of war,” anxieties underlying the panic, and the aftermath. Additional chapters look at later broadcasts in the United States, Brazil, elsewhere in Latin America, and Portugal, and address the likelihood that a similar panic could happen again. The Howard Koch original script of the 1938 The War of the Worlds radio broadcast is included.

About the Author(s)

John Gosling has written many articles for British science fiction magazines and runs a highly respected War of the Worlds website (www.war-of the-worlds.co.uk).

Bibliographic Details

John Gosling Radio script by Howard Koch
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 247
Bibliographic Info: 34 photos, appendix, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4105-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Preface      1

1. God of War: A Brief History of Mars in the Mind of Man      3

2. Mars Attacks: H. G. Wells Declares War      12

3. Orson Welles: Larger Than Life      19

4. Preparing to End the World: The Making of the Broadcast      31

5. War: 8 P.M., October 30, 1938      43

6. “It’s Just a Radio Show”: Dispatches from the Front Lines      49

7. The Fog of War: What Really Happened?      56

8. Smoke and Mirrors: Why the Panic?      68

9. Animosities and Rapprochements: The Aftermath of War      86

10. The Latin American Front: The Martians Return      99

11. SOS from Caratinga: Brazil Battles the Martians      114

12. The European Theater of Operations: Paralysis in Portugal      120

13. “It’s Not a Meteor, Henry”: The Second American Campaign      130

14. Mars 2, Brazil 0: The Siege of São Luís      143

15. Peril in Providence: The Last American Campaign      149

16. The Final Campaigns: Portugal 1988 and 1998      156

17. Remembering 1938: An American Myth      164

18. Envious Eyes: Could It Happen Again?      181

Appendix: The War of the Worlds Original Script by Howard Koch      193

Chapter Notes      219

Annotated Bibliography and Filmography (Including Radio, Audio and Television)      225

Recommended Research Sources      231

Index      233

Book Reviews & Awards

“is brisk and straightforward…the author possesses a refreshing degree of knowledge about the UFO phenomenon”—International UFO Reporter; “definitive…deserves your attention and a place on your bookshelf”—SF Crowsnest.com; “while the American public is not likely to ever be fooled again by a broadcast, one sure way to cause a radio panic in 2009 would be to deprive the serious scholar or armchair enthusiast of their own copy of [this book]”—I Still Love Radio.