War Of The Worlds
by Herbert George Wells
The original Book
The text of WOTW can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg
Study guide - http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/science_fiction/warofworlds.html
The 1938 Radio Play
"A wave of mass hysteria seized thousands of radio listeners between 8:15 and 9:30 o'clock last night when a broadcast of a
dramatization of H. G. Wells's fantasy, "The War of the Worlds," led thousands to believe that an interplanetary conflict had started
with invading Martians spreading wide death and destruction in New Jersey and New York." - New York Times, Oct. 31, 1938. Full article at: http://members.aol.com/jeff1070/wotw.html
This site also includes excerpts from a book "Introduction to Collective Behavior and Collective Action", which is well worth reading.
Earwitness report of the 1938 Radio version - http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi195.htm
This article, http://www.irdp.co.uk/hoax.htm
, on the psychological impact of radio (and TV) has some interesting information on WOTW and other similar programs, and explains that due to one of the most popular programmes starting it's broadcast with an operatic aria, many listeners switched to another channel (and who can blame them) and found the dance music sets with which WOTW starts. Hence, they were unaware that they were hearing a radio play.
Cantril in 1966 (or 1940?) published a study of the effects of the play, entitled "The Invasion From Mars". A summary is given here: http://www.as.wvu.edu/~sbb/comm80/lecture/unit4.htm
The page gives an estimated audience of between 6 and 12 million, of whom between 1 and 2 million panicked. Tuning in late to the broadcast was a factor, but so, interestingly, was religious belief - "Evangelical Christians were
more like to believe in the broadcast"
Article by Hadley Cantril (undated):
-- Andy Pryke
- 05 Jan 2002