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The Martians Have Landed

The Martians Have Landed:  A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes.Bartholomew, Robert E., and Radford, Benjamin (2012).

The Martians Have Landed:  A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes. 

Jefferson, North Carolina:  McFarland.

"fascinating...ground breaking and unique...definitely a rare find and worthy of any conspiracy enthusiasts library or paranormal journeymen’s book shelf...recommend"--Examiner.com

"in this work Bartholomew and Radford, investigate the truth behind scares fueled either intentionally or accidentally by the media"--Reference & Research Book News.

“…there are a number of topics which I have not seen covered in similar compilations, such as the racist Internet and media-led rumours surrounding Hurricane Katrina, and a number of scares resulting from over-realistic TV and radio dramas, including not only the Orson Welles broadcast and its violent South American sequels, but the invasion broadcast that caused a crisis in the Caucasus. The authors also do a good job of looking at the way some genuine concerns were dramatised by the media – ‘Bird Flu’, ‘video nasties’ and a number of over-the-top ‘elf'n’safety’ panics.


-author John Rimmer, Magonia Review of Books

As a media historian, I found this book highly entertaining and well-researched.  While some readers may seek greater detail and lament the short chapters, this is also a strength as the author’s stated purpose is to survey the literature and not get bogged down in a few detailed case studies.  Instead, we are treated to a rich survey of the history of media panics and hoaxes in over three dozen chapters that are very readable and can be enjoyed by both the layperson and academic alike. There is a good variety of cases from different media:  the internet, TV, radio and newspaper. The accounts of the US Martian invasion scare of 1938 and a similar panic in both Chile (1944) and Ecuador (1949) were especially interesting and well written. The relatively short chapters make the book flow.   While not the definitive study of the subject, Bartholomew offers a well-documented and timely survey of the literature that is aimed at a broad audience. While I have read widely on the history of the mass media, a full one-third of the cases discussed in the book I had never heard of before.  I am grateful to the author for bringing these to light.  Overall, a nifty contribution to the history of the mass media and it’s propensity to engage in mischief-making.   

5 stars.

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