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The Wave

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  19,242 ratings  ·  2,013 reviews
The Wave is based on a true incident that occurred in a high school history class in Palo Alto, California, in 1969.

The powerful forces of group pressure that pervaded many historic movements such as Nazism are recreated in the classroom when history teacher Burt Ross introduces a "new" system to his students. And before long The Wave, with its rules of "strength through d
Mass Market Paperback, 138 pages
Published March 2005 by Laurel Leaf Books (first published September 1st 1981)
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Erin It is based on a true event. I feel that we need our country to watch and read this NOW! It shows just how easily we as people can be influenced.
Clara The book is based on a 80s film about the actual experiment--so there are a few Hollywood-influenced aspects--but it follows the events of the experim…moreThe book is based on a 80s film about the actual experiment--so there are a few Hollywood-influenced aspects--but it follows the events of the experiment quite faithfully, as far as I have been able to find out. The actual event started out in 3 sophomore classrooms, and it indeed escalated to such a point that 200 students attended the fake rally at the conclusion of the book. I believe the teacher didn't show a video of Hitler, but instead a static screen; still, I'm surprised that the gathering wasn't fictitious. You can find some information and interesting photographs (such as of the original wave logo) on this website: . If you are interested in what actually took place, this is an excellent resource.
To answer your question directly, the book is fiction, in as much as the characters and specifics go, but the outline of the plot is factual for the most part. (less)

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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is scary. Honestly.

It's not a horror story, it's not the kind of novel where monsters come jumping out the closet; or at least not the green googley-eyed kind. This is a true story which I was told not to read because the subject matter was too old for me.

When I first read The Wave, I had no comprehension of why it was scary. Bad things happened, but it was more or less ok in the end. It wasn't until I was older, and had a better grasp of world history, social psychology, and a true ab
Dec 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
“Laurie Sanders sat in the publications office at Gordon High School chewing on the end of a Bic pen. She was a pretty girl with short light-brown hair and an almost perpetual smile that only disappeared when she was upset or chewing on Bic pens. Lately she’d been chewing on a lot of pens. In fact, there wasn’t a single pen or pencil in her pocketbook that wasn’t worn down on the butt end from nervous gnawing. Still, it beat smoking. “

Thus begins The Wave.

Can we break apart that paragraph, pleas
Apr 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya
I read this book while on a family trip to Washington, D.C., shortly after visiting the Holocaust museum (which is, in fact, where my mom bought it -- in the gift shop -- and is it weird that the Holocaust museum has a gift shop? Even if the proceeds go to the museum?).

Perhaps that wasn't the best time to pick up a book that seeks to grossly oversimplify how fascism can slowly creep up and overtake a society of otherwise well-meaning people, but what with the blatant metaphors and bad, bad dialo
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This book, written under the pen name of Morton Rhue in the United States, is a novelisation of the telemovie of the same name, which was based on a short story by Ron Jones about a real event.

In 1969 a high school history teacher, Ben Ross, was working in a small "all-American" town teaching his class of grade 12 students about the second World War. After showing them a film on Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and concentration camps, his students couldn't understand why the German people hadn't realise
A compelling story about how Nazi Germany could have been created--how the minority controlled the majority, and how the majority allowed themselves to be controlled. It's based on the true story of The Third Wave experiment, which demonstrated fascism as a part of teaching about WWII.

But the writing of this book. Oh, the writing. It hurts. It should be noted that in tiny print on the copyright page, it does note that this is a novelization of a teleplay that was an adaptation of the original t
Jon Nakapalau
A new movement is coursing through High School...discipline and strength must be maintained and enforced. This novel dramatizes an incident that took place in California (Ellwood P. Cubberley High School history class in Palo Alto, California) in 1969. As the experiment 'exits' the class there many positive features that start to take place...but what is to be done with the individuals who do not fit in? Chilling glimpse into how Nazism was able to spread.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as an assigned book report and wasnt quite sure if I would like it or not. To be completely honest, I picked it because of its title. The Wave. It sounded relaxing to me. However, when I actually read the book, I realized it wasnt about the waves in the ocean at all. It was a pleasant suprise to read something different. When you finish reading the book, you have that feeling like "wow. That ACTUALLY happened." Its very sad that this happened, but we have to learn from people's ...more
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Danit Benjamin's book review of "The Wave" by Morton Rhue.
This book is based on a true story of an experiment carried out by Ben Ross, a history teacher in a high school in California. They were studying World War II. After being shown a documentary showing the atrocities the Nazis committed the students questioned how it was possible for 90% of the German people to allow this to happen.
Ben Ross decided to do an experiment to show the students how easily it could happen. He created a group call
Apr 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-german
Unfortunately, this was a huge disappointment for me.
Although the topic and the fact that this book is based on a real story are very interesting, it was rather poorly executed.

The major problem for me were the characters.
They had absolutely no depth to them and I was left with many questions.
Why does the teacher decide to keep the experiment going in the first place? Why do the students just go with it, without any questions? What makes them decide to tell other students about the movement? Ho
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a fascinating story and concept. It is scary if you think about it, but so well done.
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
It was a very frightening read, my stomach was in knots and I felt sick from the idea alone.
I know that it is BASED on true events, but I find it hard to believe that it happened so fast!
5 days? Really? Is that what it takes to create a monster?

The writing is OK, but I expected more from it.
BUT, a very important read, and I'm glad it is a must read in many schools around the globe.
History can repeat it self if we are not careful.
jessica ☾
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Extremely interesting premise, as soon as I discovered this gem I dropped everything to pick it up.

Maybe it has something to do with the way it was written, but even though this was based entirely on a true story, it just seems kinda ridiculous. It feels like the books about a group of elementary aged kids, rather than teenagers.

Half of my issue with this book is the voice used for the audiobook, which is how I read this, so I’m not really sure if it’s fair to rate based on that. But nevertheles
Amy | littledevonnook
This book is based around a true event that happened in a Californian school which involved psychological manipulation of the students. I believe there are film adaptations of this story as well.

Our main character Laurie begins to worry when a seemingly harmless movement known as the 'Wave' takes over her school. Started by a teacher who wanted to give a better idea of what it would be like to be a Nazi, the idea slowly takes hold - her schoolmates are saluting, marching and chanting. But when s
Jennifer Siddiqui
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Wave is based on a actual incident that happened in Palo Alto California in 1969. What started as a lesson in a history class disrupted the entire school, showing how group pressure can influence peoples behavior and thinking even causing great harm to others. This book should be read by everyone at least once.
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shalor T.
Oct 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
In high school, everyone in my class said that they couldn't believe that so many German citizens went along with the atrocities of the Holocaust. They all claimed that if they'd been alive during that time, they'd have rebelled, they'd have saved Anne Frank... basically that they wouldn't have agreed to do it. It was around this same time that I picked up 'The Wave'. Knowing that it was real sent shivers down my spine. It still does to this day.

The book's plot surrounds a young teacher named Be
Dec 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, ya, tract
This book was recommended to me by a student I tutor in math. The version I have has the author's real name, Todd Strasser. It is accessible and relevant to all ages, although it is clearly geared toward young adults. In a sentence, the book explores the ease with which groups fall into extreme and destructive social dynamics and mindsets. The setting is a high school class studying the Nazis and skeptical about how the German populace able to follow such an evil political movement. Surprise! Th ...more
The Gist

The Wave is based on a true event in Palo Alto, California in 1969. A teacher and his senior history class are learning about World War II and the students don’t understand how people followed Hitler and why no one stood up to him. The teacher (Ben Ross) soon comes up with an experiment called The Wave to show the students how it was to live in Nazi Germany. The students and teacher soon get caught up in The Wave and only Laurie Saunders and David Collins realize what The Wave actually i
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What I like most about this book, is that it simply is true. Not only what horribly things are possible, but that you must stand up for yourself and who you are and what you believe in, even if that means being an outsider. So much bad happens and people say it’s not possible to do it again. Honestly, that one person could do so much harm and had to get the idea from somewhere, so what not possible again? Why is it insane? Why is this idea insane, if the others were too? If the idea creating a g ...more
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the words of my sister: "I would say there's no way this could happen in real life, but that's what those kids said -- and this is a true story!"

Kids are brutal, and The Wave is a perfect example of how their intolerance for individuality can get out of hand when harnessed incorrectly. Like David Collins, I wish there really was a way to make kids (from the 10-year-olds who act like 16-year-olds to the 16-year-olds who act like 20-year-olds) pay attention in class, do their homework, and beha
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it
'The Wave' by Todd Strasser is based on a true story of a high school in California. It expresses how humans can be so easily influenced by their surroundings, and how that could lead to terrible consequences. I would recommended this book to anyone interested in social behavior and psychology.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read this for a class assignment and I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. Don't really know how to explain it in just a couple of sentences but I suggest that everyone should read this book.
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off let me just say I’m not too educated on the real event this is based on. So I don’t know how well the author retold the events.
This novel is about the Third-Wave Experiment, which was brought to life by teacher Ron Jones in 1967.
The Story is fast paced and overly dramatized
and touches the surface of the discussion just enough. But that’s ok with me. I know it’s one of those books that is trying to get 14 year olds to read and it only has 146 pages to tell this story.
I think Todd Str
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Wave is a 1981 young adult novel by Todd Strasser. Todd Strasser was born in 1950 in America who wrote more than 140 young-adult novels and many short stories and works of non-fiction, some under the pen name Morthon Rhue and T.S. Rue.
In the Wave, we can regard the way that a simple class test can finish in such a dramatically way. The book begins with only a class about 30 pupils which all of them become part of the Wave. Ben Ross wants to teach the class a lesson. This lesson cannot be tol
Jan 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps not a book to use in the primary school classroom, but a story that serves as a cautionary tale to teachers and teaching.

A history teacher unable to fully explain the reasons behind how and why the rise of Nazism and the persecution of Jews took place devises a social experiment involving the whole class.
The class are taught in a way that removes 'thinking' on their part and is a form of conditioning and control that resembles military training.
Other pupils in the school quickly want t
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to tell the true from the fiction in those type of books, but it's a very interesting subject for sure. The mass influence and how people can accept stuff just to be a part of a group, to fit in, this is scary but in the same so true, that the scary part actually...Even if it's old this book is still very actually and could be use in high school to show to teens that you have to learn to question the idea and the people around you, to make your own opinion, hopefully a brilliant one. It's a ...more
Alexia | Right Writing Words
So...considering that this was a prescribed book for my class this year, it wasn't bad.

I'm not really a fan of short books, since they just don't provide the same experience a novel does, but this short book pleasantly surprised me.

The story follows Laurie Saunders; a popular, smart student who's school life is almost perfect. She's got a nice boyfriend, she's the editor of the Gordon Grapevine, she's got an equally smart and popular best friend and school life is treating her nicely.

Until the
Aj Sterkel
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Have you ever finished a book and thought, Wait, where’s the rest of it? It can’t be over? I still have so many questions! That was me with this book.

The Wave is a fictionalization of a real-life experiment that took place in a California high school in the 1960s. A history teacher wanted to help his students understand why the Germans went along with Hitler’s plan during WWII. Why didn’t more people resist Hitler? The teacher invented a “game” that he called The Wave. (In real life, it was call
Bahoz Miran
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english
This book was very good. I got really absorbed into it. It was an interesting topic, and the fact that it happened for real, made it even more interesting.
This novel helped me to see how "good people" can do "bad things", without realizing how terrible they were being. It doesn't justify or apologize for these actions, but it shows how naturally horrific events can happen.
When you finish reading the book, you have that feeling like "Wow That ACTUALLY happened?" It is very sad that this happened
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have wanted to read this book since seeing the movies a few years ago. In terms of plot it is alright, detailing a school's rapid descent into blind and hurtful obedience under the pretext of unity, equality, and action. But the writing is tepid at best.

The fact that it is based on a true story is the only reason to read it.
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MSM Sophomore Eng...: the wave 3 4 Dec 13, 2019 06:53AM  
Do you think this is realistic or exaderated? Could it happen today? 2 9 Aug 30, 2019 10:21PM  
Kris Bries 2 5 May 11, 2019 08:31AM  
Deludente 1 2 Jan 14, 2019 08:56AM  

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Todd Strasser is an American author of more than 130 novels for adults, young-adults, and middle graders.

His most recent novel is Summer of '69

Booklist review: "Drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll, those hallmarks of the summer of 1969, are all here, but there's so much more. In this loosely autobiographical novel, Strasser introduces 18-year-old Lucas, who is bright and sensitive but also a screw up….

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