We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
The War of the Worlds (Dramatized) | [Mercury Theatre on the Air]

The War of the Worlds (Dramatized)

One of the most memorable programs in broadcast history, the Halloween Eve 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds set off a nationwide panic that's almost unimaginable today. Presented by the Mercury Theatre on the Air and its creatve genius, Orson Welles, the drama based on H.G. Wells' classic novel tells the story of a Martian invasion of Earth.
Regular Price:$5.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

One of the most memorable programs in broadcast history, the Halloween Eve 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds set off a nationwide panic that's almost unimaginable today. Presented by the Mercury Theatre on the Air and its creative genius, Orson Welles, the drama based on H.G. Wells' classic novel tells the story of a Martian invasion of Earth. As written by Howard Koch, the play unfolds in a realistic documentary style, complete with simulated news broadcasts of aliens landing in Grover's Mill, New Jersey.

Whether they weren't quite paying attention, tuned in late, or simply misunderstood what they heard, legions of listeners thought an actual invasion was underway. The front-page headline in the October 31, 1938, New York Times told the whole story: "Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact/Many Flee Homes to Escape 'Gas Raid From Mars'/Phone Calls Swamp Police at Broadcast of Wells Fantasy".

Hear more collections of radio movie dramatizations, or listen to all of the individual programs by themselves!

© and (P)2006 Radio Spirits, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (287 )
5 star
 (163)
4 star
 (78)
3 star
 (36)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.3 (185 )
5 star
 (104)
4 star
 (50)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (1)
Story
4.5 (182 )
5 star
 (120)
4 star
 (44)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (0)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Sandy BUCKETTY, Australia 06-05-09
    Sandy BUCKETTY, Australia 06-05-09 Member Since 2008

    Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    393
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1289
    200
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    26
    4
    Overall
    "Classic"

    If you are old enough to remember the radio serials, and the shorts at the Saturday Afternoon pictures, and you like classic SciFi, you could enjoy this. Orson Wells no less. Having seen both movies over the years, based on this story, it was good to hear the original radio play that had listeners thinking the Martians had indeed landed (or so the other story goes). Classic or otherwise I suggest spending the few dollars asked rather than use your credit here.It is a good listen for the hour and certainly worth $5.00.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ESK Moscow, Russia 12-30-13
    ESK Moscow, Russia 12-30-13 Member Since 2011

    There are books of the same chemical composition as dynamite. The only difference is that a piece of dynamite explodes once, whereas a book explodes a thousand times. ― Yevgeny Zamyatin

    HELPFUL VOTES
    233
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    329
    58
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    33
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    ""That was no Martian, it's Halloween""

    It's a masterful radio dramatization dating back to 1938. The radio play allegedly "stirred terror through the U.S." and "terrified the nation". The broadcast started with the introduction by Orson Welles: "We know now that in the early years of the twentieth century this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own." The broadcast went on followed by a weather report and interviews that were meant to make the dramatization sound realistic. Then there was a special news bulletin announcing that an object about 30 yards wide had fallen on a farm at Grovers Mill.
    What the news reporter saw next he described as "the most terrifying thing" he had ever witnessed...
    I was hooked by this true-to-life radio adaptation. The way the Martian invasion and its aftermath were reported, and the enactment of one of the few survivors were brilliant.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 08-04-11
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 08-04-11 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1362
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    255
    228
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    979
    15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Clever and Entertaining Dramatization"

    What a remarkable radio dramatization of H. G. Wells??? classic novel The War of the Worlds Orson Welles and company made! They effectively distilled the essential elements from the novel into an American context, producing a concise 59-minute program that made me feel that I was listening to an intense night of terror followed by days of existential wandering and wondering.

    After a voice proclaims that we are listening to a Mercury Theater presentation of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Orson Welles intones a condensed version of the brilliant opening of the novel, and then quickly sets up the conceit of the first part of the broadcast, that we are listening to a radio program of innocuous dance music that is repeatedly interrupted by eye-witness news flashes from this New Jersey farm where a strange meteor has landed. From there Welles and company use a variety of voices (newsmen, astronomers, farmers, crowds, military men, etc.) and sound effects to create the illusion that the attack of the Martians, complete with heat rays, giant mobile tripods, and poison gas, is happening in real time as we listen to the radio.

    After an ???intermission,??? the second part of the dramatization changes from the ersatz radio broadcast to the first person narration by Welles of his professor character???s journal, depicting his attempts to survive and make sense of the invasion. Welles ???out of character??? closes the program by saying that the Mercury Theater was just shouting ???boo!??? at listeners on Halloween Eve and that ???we didn???t mean it.???

    Fans of science fiction, of Wells??? novel, of vintage radio theater, and of American culture generally should listen to this program; despite (or due to) its savory slightly static-y quality, it???s well worth the $5.95 ($3.95 for members) price of admission.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Whittier, CA 09-11-12
    Dave Whittier, CA 09-11-12 Member Since 2010

    I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    434
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    155
    73
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    72
    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Best Trick or Treat Ever"

    The story of Orson Welles adapting The War of the Worlds on the radio one Halloween and terrifying a ridiculous amount of the United States is kind of legendary today, but as someone who'd never heard it before, I wasn't sure if it'd live up to the legend or not.

    It does, and it's a lot of fun to hear and imagine people listening to it when it originally broadcast. The moments of silence between reporters or military personnel when they go off the air unexpectedly just hangs there, and you can imagine the genuine dread that must've inspired (and still does, for those of us unafraid to use our imaginations).

    I recently listened to Wells' original novel (narrated by Simon Vance) and I was impressed how much Orson Welles channeled that here - particularly the scene toward the end with the artillery man. It's a very solid adaptation, and a genuine piece of Americana.

    It does sound like an old production, but it's well worth listening to if you've ever been curious about how Welles and Wells created possibly the best Trick or Treat in the world.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sage Wood Rabbit Lake, NY, United States 08-31-11
    Sage Wood Rabbit Lake, NY, United States 08-31-11 Member Since 2011

    RaBBiT

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    64
    16
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What can one say about such perfection?"

    Created AND narrated by the late GREAT Orson Welles..I am again stupifed & left in AWE...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aaron gilbert Pearland, TX United States 02-28-14
    aaron gilbert Pearland, TX United States 02-28-14 Member Since 2012

    Christian, Texan, electrician, lover of reading-I lean towards Sci-fi/fantasy but enjoy the classics, history, and science titles also.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    87
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Science fiction makes history"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The War of the Worlds (Dramatized) to be better than the print version?

    Classic apples to oranges question. The written story is an amazing piece of vintage science fiction while the audio version is the actual broadcast played over the radio intended as a Halloween prank on the listeners. This prank had scary consequences that made actual history. I feel each version has its own distinct personality and as such for me to pick a favorite would feel unfair.


    What other book might you compare The War of the Worlds (Dramatized) to and why?

    With the Star Force series by B.V. Larson fresh in my mind some obvious parallels present themselves, however that would be like comparing the 1963 Doctor who series to the present day installment of the good doctor.


    Have you listened to any of Orson Welles’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The only other performance I have heard from Mr. Wells was his portrayal of the Transformer planet in the cartoon movie by the same name. The quality of this recording was poor due to the inferior recording equipment of the time however would you really want a better track to take away from the old radio show feel?


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, I wanted to listen with my kids and explain a couple things as we went along.


    Any additional comments?

    Great fun for the whole family if this is correctly appreciated for what it is.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brenty United States 01-07-14
    brenty United States 01-07-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    116
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    493
    61
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Classic found footage radio"

    Before Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity there was the Mercury Theatre production of War of the Worlds.

    Never mind being startled and scared by things that go bump in the night after watching a horror movie; this broadcast (and others like it) inspired actual widespread panic in those who missed the part at the beginning about it being a work of fiction. Seriously.

    Accept no substitutions. Listen to this classic radio drama and then check out the Radiolab show about it (Google is your friend). You'll be glad you did.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    231326 Silver Spring, MD, United States 03-14-14
    231326 Silver Spring, MD, United States 03-14-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The One And Only TRUE RADIO HORROR w/ consequences"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    When radio was the predominant form of a family's entertainment after dinner, the people who worked in radio spared no expense. Not special effects, not costumes (as none were required); the real budget was spent on finding the best voices in the business...finding the foley artist who could make that perfect blending of real and manufactured noises...the music, and of course--THE STORY!

    How many times have listeners tuned out in less than ten minutes of a lackluster performance.

    Orson Welles had an idea that not only created a truely new direction for the RADIO DRAMA, but went so far as to disregard convention. He left little clues, though. Clues such as the fact that this was aired on Halloween (he wanted people to realize that it's a little scary story); unfortunately, phone lines burned with panicked callers. People actually committed suicide while this live performance was underway.

    Many huddled in actual panic, thinking that the story was in fact reality, and that the world as they knew it was over.

    After the fallout, it was realized that he took the artform of drama, and brought it into laser focus through mere sound.

    When you can close your eyes, and see it all...the Theatre of The Mind.


    Bravo.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The War of the Worlds (Dramatized)?

    When the main character and a squirell make eye contact for a brief period of time; the narrator wonders if they both felt the same feeling...the joy of seeing another living thing.


    What about Orson Welles’s performance did you like?

    I was most drawn to how absolutely committed he was to the passionate opening, from a stumbled, confusing emotional response, to the people he cast to play the role of extras; whose collective screams, moans, and comments added that eerie touch of the real.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It's only 59 minutes. It's the perfect little tale for that hour long drive.


    Any additional comments?

    Persons who stumble onto this will also love the original 3D Audio version of THE MIST by Stephen King; and for the same reasons.

    1. Committed performances by the cast
    2. A good story that's feasible
    3. The 59 minute format, making it worth taking along for that hour long drive

    What's amazing is that you'd think the digital quality of the Stephen King story would be superior...it's not.

    The radio's hiss, sizzle, pop, and fade are also a part of the show!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenden Zapp Lima, Ohio, United States 05-23-13
    Brenden Zapp Lima, Ohio, United States 05-23-13 Member Since 2012

    My hearing will surely go out early in life due to all the audiobooks I listen to!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well this is new for me..."

    I have never listened to something like this, and now that I have im kinda kicking myself in the rear for just NOW finding something like this. Absolutely amazing performance even though it was on the radio Halloween eve 1938. Alot of people during that time actually got scared because they thought it was real! Let me tell you if I was a youngling and i just came across this I would have too.

    Short and so bittersweet. Such a horrifying tale, perfect for the eve of ghosts, goblins and well ALIENS!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra FERNANDINA BEACH, FL, United States 12-01-12
    Sandra FERNANDINA BEACH, FL, United States 12-01-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sounded Real"
    Would you listen to The War of the Worlds (Dramatized) again? Why?

    I would not listen again, but it was a one-time "must listen."


    Would you be willing to try another book from Mercury Theatre on the Air? Why or why not?

    Yes. This program sounded like an actual broadcast.


    What about Orson Welles’s performance did you like?

    He made the invasion appear to be in progress.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 12 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.