As a radio drama historian myself, I must express how thoroughly pleased and delighted I am by this book. I would consider it an essential addition to the library of anyone who is interested in either radio or horror. Dave Siegel has done a great job of script selection and of providing background information on the show and on Alonzo Deen Cole (the creator-writer-director-star of THE WITCH'S TALE) and the other people who were the mainstays of the series. The program log in the back of the book is much needed and appreciated, and is especially helpful in identifying the literary sources of those scripts which Cole adapted from other works; this, in turn, underscores just how firmly rooted he was in the Gothic and Romantic traditions. It must be admitted, though, that the greatest horror in this book is not in any of the scripts but in a sentence in Dave Siegel's introduction which reads (and I quote): "...in 1961...[Cole] destroyed his own recordings of the program, feeling they had lost any further commercial value." Aaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!! And this was a guy who was very proud of his work in radio and kept bound volumes of his WITCH'S TALE scripts. He was one of the first (possibly THE first) radio writers to actually copyright his scripts. This destruction of his recordings must have come at a personal low ebb in his life. But how sad, and what an irretrievable loss to future generations of old-time radio fans and scholars. Which is all the more reason why Dave Siegel's book is an important publication in its field of study.
A delightful book. First, for the research and hard to find information about the series and Mr. Cole who created it. Then secondly, for the wonderful scripts included, all of which are clever and do not seem dated. The radio series itself suffered from a little overacting (which was common in the 1930s) but the scripts themselves have many subtle aspects that crawl under your skin. I only wish they would republish ALL of Cole's scripts!
I only praise and review good books. The Witch's Tale is one of the earliest radio horrors and almost impossible to find any information about it, in encyclopedias or web pages. Why? It was so early in radio's heyday that I am impressed by the amount of work and in-depth research that went into the book. It includes a nice history of the series, followed by 13 (how appropriate) radio scripts to episodes that don't exist. I only have a handful in my collection and only that many exist. So i was very pleased to read (another theatre of the mind) 13 additional episodes not in existence. A broadcast log of each and every episode, including broadcast time, is in the back of the book, making this an essential reference guide. If only someone can do one on The Hermit's Cave, we'd be all set for early horrors. I bow to Dave Siegel and A. Cole, who compiled this book. If you love radio horror, this is a must. Thank you Mr. Siegel.
The Witch's Tale by Alonzo Deen Cole, ably edited by David S Siegel, is a very entertaining and informative trip back in time to the beginings of horror on American Radio. The introduction really sets the scene for the show and makes one wish that Mr Cole had'nt destroyed any of his recordings of WT! The illustrations are real gems and enable one to put faces to these voices of so long ago.. Miriam Wolff's contributions are particularly interesting, in view of the fact the she played old Nancy herself between 1935-1938. The stories themselves are enjoyable and show how deeply Cole was influenced by gothic horror tales and the pulp fiction of his time. Even if one was'nt interested in Old Time Radio, the stories themselves are well worth the price of the book. I would'nt be surprised if Old Nancy herself, bought a copy for her 185th birthday and is reading it out to her cat Satan!