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The Martians are Coming!: The True Story of Orson Welles' 1938 Panic Broadcast [Hardcover]

Alan Gallop
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Jun 2011
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 is one of the most talked-about radio broadcasts in history. The realistic retelling of Wells' original story resulted in mass panic across America. People ran into the streets screaming that the world was ending. Churches were emptied of their congregations, cinemas of their audiences, restaurants of their patrons. Panic-stricken families rushed to their cars and drove like lunatics in a bid to escape Martian annihilation. It seemed as if everyone in America knew about the 'invasion' that night, except of course the actors taking part in the live drama - they had no idea what was happening until the NYPD raided the recording studio. The Martians Are Coming! is the story of how a play that few people believed in came to be written, cast, rehearsed and finally broadcast to a credulous nation. Set against the background of America's economic depression and rumbles of another world war coming from across the Atlantic, the book sets The War of the Worlds in the context of what ordinary Americans were thinking and feeling on the night their world almost - but not quite - came to an end.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing (15 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1445602237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1445602233
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,011,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Alan Gallop is a journalist, author and teacher of PR and marketing subjects at commercial colleges. His previous work includes a book about Buffalo Bill's adventures in England, a history of the women and children who toiled in Victorian coal mines, and a biography of explorer Henry Morton Stanley. He has written about the birth and development of Heathrow and about the loss of HMS Affray, the last British submarine to go missing at sea. He is married with two children and lives in Ashford, Middlesex.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
this is a book that any fan of science fiction and classic radio shows should have in their possession. the last book to be published on this particular subject was about 20 years ago, so the timing is just right for an updated version of the events that followed on that fateful night of halloween 1938.
the rather infamous story of orson welles's radio broadcast of "the war of the worlds" has gone down in history as the night when a large part of the american population was plunged into utter panic and shock when they thought martians were about to invade earth. also, this single event was what led orson welles to hollywood and to film stardom.
this is some fascinating behind-the-scenes information about what occured before, during and after the broadcast and the photos have been very well selected too. the ones of orson welles rehearsing and speaking to the public are the best ones in my opinion. the author wisely includes opinions and statements from both the people who worked on the radio broadcast and those who were listening to it at the time. although the press were not particularly sympathetic to the gullibility of the general public, the author of the book avoids mocking or ridiculing them.
what i like also, is the book jacket design, especially that of the back cover, as it quite vividly shows a painting of a martian looming over those sky-scraper buildings. imaginatively done.
i hope that anyone who buys this, will enjoy it as much as i did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How humans are influenced 30 April 2013
I have been interested in H G Wells and his book The War of War for many years, along with Jeff Wayne's musical interpretation of the same. At the same time I had heard of the panic that spread across the USA in 1938 by a radio broadcast by Orson Welles.

This book, The Martians Are Coming, gives a real insight into this broadcast, the theatre company The Mercury Theatre on the Air, and how many actors, writers and associates, led by Orson Welles unknowingly during an adaptation of H G Wells great work, panicked so many people. It show how humans can be so easily influenced by not having the full facts of a situation, and how humans influence others.

The author, Alan Gallop, has well researched the subject in a well written book, and shows the thinking of authorities of that times, on how the then new medium of the radio being broadcast into the populations homes had such great power.

Perhaps living in the UK and the area of the action of the original book, the county of Surrey, and knowing my distaste of the Americanisation of the work, I can now understand why the location of the action was transferred to Grover's Mill, and that subsequent films were also based in the USA,

As Gallop say, it is time a film be made based on and following the original setting in the UK.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative 23 Jan 2014
By Ligtstar - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating history of the epic War of the Worlds radio broadcast. There were lots of facts I had never heard before. The author tells us what happened to each of the people involved with producing this broadcast. It also goes into detail about the effects of the broadcast around the country.

It was an easy quick read chock full of information.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you feel like you were there... 21 May 2014
By stanley olszyna - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 17 Jan 2014
By Line'r - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mr. Gallop did a good job and, although I have read other books of Panic 1938 Broadcast, this is more on a personal level, considering the relationship of the author and Mr. Wells.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ISN'T THERE ANYONE.....??? 26 May 2012
By Richard Masloski - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Since there are no other reviews or comments about this book here on Amazon, I can somewhat appreciate the feelings of Professor Pierson (a.k.a. Orson Welles) when he ponders the possibility - after the Martians have declared their one-sided war on mankind - that he might be the last living man on Earth. Isn't anyone there? Anyone?

This is an extremely handsome book, beautifully produced and published by the smallish Amberley Publishing from the UK. The slim volume has a healthy physical weight to it, a solid spine, eye-catching covers, a good number of illustrations and its written content is surprisingly in-depth and detailed despite the book's seemingly few 157 pages. Yes, there are some annoying errors of fact that should never have made it into print had proof-readers been more astute, but overall there's much bang for the buck here. Author Alan Gallop delivers the goods in a highly readable and informative manner. He tells the full story of the 1938 Panic Broadcast most excitingly and covers the preludes and aftermaths of that infamous Halloween event with equal gusto.

And the thing is that what happened then is still of immense relevance to what happens in our own day and age. How truly different, for example, was the Mercury Theatre's authoritatively disseminating news across the land of a Martian invasion that was in actuality bogus - and latter day leaders authoritatively declaring the existence of WMDs to a more modern, but equally gullible, public? And in this book our author raises the profound and unanswered question as to just how "real" the subsequent news stories of the panic actually were. The Mercury Theatre yes, faked news bulletins of a Martian invasion. But how much may the reporters covering the aftershocks of that broadcast have embellished or downright fabricated? A news story isn't termed a "story" for naught. What then really separates a conscious lie from an unconscious one? And where is the real dividing line betwixt Truth and Art? Wherever audiences are - whether with ears glued to radios of old or eyes riveted to TVs of today - wherever audiences are, so is Art.

The story of Orson Welles' radio broadcast of H.G.Wells' THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is a story that should never be forgotten. Alan Gallop's admirable book helps to see that it won't be.
5.0 out of 5 stars Martians Are Coming!! 4 Sep 2014
By Bones Kelley-McCoy - Published on
It's a real insight into the whys and wherefores of the iconic broadcast. No one could have expected the panic that swept America. It was a Halloween treat that grew bigger than life. You have to admit it was quite ingenious.
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