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One of the reasons Orson Welles's dramatization of The War of the Worlds convinced so many people that New Jersey was really being invaded by Martians was that radio listeners of the late 1930s had grown accustomed to hearing scientists interviewed on the air, according to this lively history. LaFollette traces the American scientific community's participation in mass media over a period of three decades , from the first radio appearance of Smithsonian curator Austin Clark to a series of television specials directed by Frank Capra in the 1950s. From the beginning, she writes, such programming was caught up in the tension between educational and entertainment value, and the lecture-like format of early science shows gradually gave way to more dramatic presentations. Commercial pressures also kept controversial topics like evolution off the airwaves, and scientists were wary of getting involved with the sensationalist press. Though flecked with colorful details-like Clark's insistence that guests on his program wear tuxedos-LaFollette's approach is strongly academic; a brief epilogue hints at a potential parallel between early radio and early podcasting, but the analysis remains inconclusive. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.