In Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles's War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News, (published on May 5, 2015 by Hill and Wang), A. Brad Schwartz examines the history behind Welles's famed radio play and its impact, posing the question, "Did it really spawn a 'wave of mass hysteria' as the New York Times reported?" Schwartz is the first to examine the hundreds of letters sent to Orson Welles himself in the days after the broadcast -- an investigation he began in the University of Michigan Special Collections Library for his honors thesis in the Department of Screen Arts & Cultures -- and his findings challenged conventional wisdom. Few listeners believed an attack was under way; but even so, Schwartz shows that Welles's broadcast became a major scandal, prompting a different kind of mass panic as Americans debated the bewitching power of radio and the country's vulnerability in a time of crisis. When the debate was over, American broadcasting had changed for good, but not for the better. Schwartz's original research, gifted storytelling, and thoughtful analysis make Broadcast Hysteria a groundbreaking new look at a crucial but little-understood episode in American history; they also make us examine the present day popularity of "fake news" and the role of mass media in our lives. 

Hear A. Brad Schwartz speak on the "Scholarship & the Archive" Panel in the Wellespring Symposium on June 9th at 10:00 a.m. (Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery [room 100])