9780809031610The release of Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News is less than a month away, but writers, scholars, and critics are already weighing in. Here are the reviews that have come in so far:

“If you think you know the story of Orson Welles and his Martian-invasion radio show, you’re wrong – and A. Brad Schwartz is the perfect writer to set you straight, in this thoroughly engaging, superbly researched work.” – Max Allan Collins, author of Road to Perdition and The War of the Worlds Murder

“Though the War of the Worlds broadcast has long been regarded as a singular event, it has lacked a historical study scaled to explore its many dimensions. A. Brad Schwartz has at last provided one. With a professional hand and an engaging style, Schwartz marshals unexplored archival evidence and synthesizes contentious debates to offer a fresh account of how the broadcast was conceived, experienced, aggrandized, and debunked, giving us fascinating portraits of everyone from Welles and his troupe to federal regulators, media researchers, and ordinary listeners. Capturing the sheer scope of the radio play and the thrill of its audience in an accessible way, this book will be an essential text for a long time to come.” – Neil Verma, author of Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama

“Beautifully mirroring the ideals that guided Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre, A. Brad Schwartz has taken a well-known story from the past and told it with stunning originality. He excavates a crucial element missing from most previous accounts: the real people who listened in on October 30, 1938, to the news of a Martian invasion. Long derided as naive and gullible, or dismissed as insignificant in number, they emerge here as self-effacing, fearful, outraged, funny, and courageous-in other words, a lot like people today. Welles would be proud.” – Mark Samels, executive producer, American Experience, PBS

“There was no mass panic on the night of October 30, 1938. Yet many still believe a radio drama featuring Martian invaders incited mobs of Americans to flee their homes. In Broadcast Hysteria, A. Brad Schwartz clarifies misconceptions and sets the record straight. In this well-written and meticulously researched work, Schwartz explains how a brilliant radio artist, an irresponsible press, and an overly ambitious social scientist combined to conjure one of the twentieth century’s most enduring fables. The real story told here proves far more interesting than the myth.” – Michael Socolow, associate professor of communication and journalism, University of Maine

“In this analytic tour de force, A. Brad Schwartz has assessed upward of two thousand letters-most available to researchers only recently-expressing every manner of opinion regarding Orson Welles’s ‘panic broadcast.’ The result surpasses in comprehensiveness and insight all previous studies of this notorious media event.” – Paul Heyer, author of The Medium and the Magician: Orson Welles, the Radio Years, 1934-1952

“A revealing and important reassessment of the most myth-encrusted radio program in American history.” – W. Joseph Campbell, author of Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism

“An impeccable account of the most famous radio show in history, a fascinating biography of Orson Welles, and a vital lesson about the responsibility of the media.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Groundbreaking . . . Fascinating as an analysis of both pop-culture and the media.” – Booklist (starred review)

“An entertaining assessment of a watershed moment in American life and its lasting effect on popular culture.” – Kirkus

“A gripping and informative look at the War of the World broadcast, as well as contemporary issues in the early 20th-century industry of radio.” – Robin Chin Roemer, Library Journal (starred review)

Broadcast Hysteria hits bookstores on May 5, 2015 – one day before Orson Welles’s 100th birthday.



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