The original publication of Jones’s essay, “The Third Wave,” is somewhat in dispute. One source (Strasser) cites it as having “appeared in a Whole Earth Catalogue sometime in the early 1970s.” The essay reproduced on two websites (Jones) carries the date 1972. Finally, a search of the database AltPressIndexArchive, which spans the years from 1960 to 1990, shows the article as having been published in the North Country Anvil in 1974. It is possible that the essay appeared in more than one publication in the 1970s.
The name Todd Strasser means nothing in Germany—the name Morton Rhue carries a lot of weight and has marketing cachet. Morton Rhue has a very different image than Todd Strasser. Rhue’s books are raw and gritty. He writes about street kids in New York, about adolescent misfits who go on a shooting rampage in their school, and about teens like Robert who are losers until something like The Third Wave comes along to give them a sense of worth. was one of five books nominated by the Youth Jury for the prestigious German Youth Literature Prize.
Morton Rhue is practically a household name in Germany. To understand why, it is necessary to return to the origins of which began long before Morton Rhue was a gleam in his alter ego’s eye. It all started with an essay by Ron Jones, who was a classroom teacher in Palo Alto, California. At some point in the 1970s, he wrote an essay describing an experiment he conducted in his social studies class in 1967, his first year of teaching. According to Jones, he and his class had been studying the Third Reich, and as always, students were questioning how the German people could have gone along with Hitler. Jones had no answer, of course, and decided the next day to introduce an exercise in class that might help lead to an answer. This is how he described it in his essay:
Still, Strasser believes that this novel has some important lessons for readers. Plus, it's a good way for teachers to start conversations with students about the Holocaust. We agree with you, Todd. In fact, The Wave was published in Europe under the name Morton Rhue, and it's taught in German public schools ().