The Wave was Todd Strasser's third novel, written while he spent days working as the owner of a fortune cookie manufacturer. It is based on a real-life experiment performed by high-school teacher Ron Jones in 1967 (for more information, see "The True Story Behind The Wave"). Throughout the 1970s, Jones's experiment was cited in numerous studies and academic papers and attracted publicity.
On his web site, Strasser writes:
"To be honest, I have always wondered if the 'real life' experiment conducted by Mr. Jones actually went as far as his essay alleges. At the same time I firmly believe that whether it did or not is entirely besides the point."
The Wave became an international bestseller and won numerous awards, including the Massachusetts Book Award for Children's / Young Adult Literature. It is frequently assigned in classrooms in the United States and Europe, and is especially popular in German schools, where teachers use it to teach young readers about fascism. The novel has been adapted to a television special and a feature film in the United States, and has been adapted for the screen and the theater abroad.