I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed By Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World
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I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed By Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  190 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Updated with New Information and Additional Patches

They’re on the shoulders of all military personnel: patches showing what a soldier’s unit does. But what if that’s top secret?

“A glimpse of [the Pentagon’s] dark world through a revealing lens—patches—the kind worn on military uniforms. . . The book offers not only clues into the nature of the secret programs, but also...more
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Published November 3rd 2010 by Melville House (first published January 28th 2007)
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In high school art class, I silk screen T-shirts with that said MAJESTIC 12 UFO RESCUE SQUAD...with a flying saucer hovering over an upside down triangle. I got a B- and ignored by the cheerleaders. If you want to be popular, don't seek the truth, kids.


Update: Not truly the blackest of ops, here. More off-white, gray or brown: test flights, satellites; to me, black-ops signals X-Files, reverse-engineered alien technology and secret moonbase operations.

A nicely designed but short collection of uniform patches collected from classified military projects. The author tries to interpret the patches to derive information about the nature of the projects. For example, a lot of them have six stars on them, which he suggests refers Area 51 (5+1, get it?) in Nevada. I don't buy all of his speculations but I do respect that there are a few of the patches on which he just admits he doesn't know what the hell they are for. A perfect little book to thumb t...more
David Gallin-Parisi
You should read this for the explanation of the title alone. Not sure why it took me so long to get this because I'm already familiar with Paglen's other works. Recommended for artists, patch collectors, true metal heads, military science buffs, and people who live for UFO sightings. Here is the covered-up colors that military personnel wear while working on black op projects.
Intriguing, totally weird, little book. There's even a patch featuring a wraith from an ICP album cover.
Robert Beveridge
Trevor Paglen, I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World (Melville House Press, 2007)

As is usual, I haven't read reviews for this book before I started writing this one, but I'd be willing to make you a small bet given (a) what I know about the reviews of Trevor Paglen's other books and (b) what I know of Amazon reviewers in general: there are going to be a sizable minority of reviews of this book that are going to complain, perhaps a...more
Melville House Publishing
Shown here for the first time, these seventy-five patches reveal a secret world of military imagery and jargon, where classified projects are known by peculiar names ("Goat Suckers," "None of Your Fucking Business," "Tastes Like Chicken") and illustrated with occult symbols and ridiculous cartoons. Although the actual projects represented here (such as the notorious Area 51) are classified, these patches-which are worn by military units working on classified missions-are precisely photographed,...more
The book summary listed does not describe this book. It is some publisher's hype, but not accurate. What this book does contain is a smattering of about 40 black world (or not) patches. The projects were not code named "None of your F-ing Business" as the synopsis states...those were just unofficial mottoes on some of the patches.
The author admits this is a very haphazard sampling of some patches, heavy on Area 51 projects. Not comprehensive. Not a historical record. Not even necessarily accura...more
Not what I expected, but interesting. This book is a series of images of Black-ops patches from the uniforms of those involved in different black projects. Each image is accompanied by a short description, but there's not a lot of background about the projects themselves.

From a heraldry perspective, it was interesting to see some of the modern interpretations of ancient devices. Dragons are a great example, having been present on the shields of many European warriors, they're still present but...more
Larry Rochelle
Trevor Paglen is an artist, an investigator and a provocateur. His book presents USA military patches used by the special foces or black ops troops. The patches are photographed and highlighted, their purpose and symbolism explained. Many of these patches were shown to him by black ops troops. The secrets these patches contain are fascinating. And, on another level, they wake us up to the fact that millions of dollars are spent on black ops and these secret troops now number 860,000, all on top...more
Dec 12, 2011 oliviasbooks marked it as on-shelf-to-comment-on  ·  review of another edition
I have just catalogued this book for my library. But my brain is still in processing mode, because ...
1. I marvel again and again that there seems to be no subject too peculiar to publish a book on.
2. I immediately thought of Alex and of Lila's brother in Hunting Lila. Maybe no fictional special unit is truely only fictional .... What do you think, Sarah Alderson?
This was an interesting book. Most of the patches had the kind of logos you would expect, apex predators and references to violence but some actually had cute animals (those were generally the patches for support for black ops).

I still find the idea that black ops have patches somewhat problematic but I think Paglen gave a reasonable explanation for the psychology behind it.

My favorite motto: Doing God's work with other people's money.
I read about this book in the NY Times
and boy is it exciting. I just love how weird/adolescent/heavy metal these patches are, juxtaposed with the presumably pretty serious/scary world of black military ops. It also reminds me of my weird pog collection from the 90s...trying to decipher what these odd little circles might mean.
This book shows the emblems from various classified military projects and explains some of the symbology behind them. Unfortunately, all the projects seem to be Air Force projects. As an Army vet living in a Navy time, I would have liked to see the other branches represented.

The title of the book is magnificently awkward but it is inspired by one of the emblems so it is appropriate.
Tom Schulte
A beautiful collection of US military black ops and departments patches. They represent units, events/tests, technologies, and the like with Latin, dragos, symbolism, stars, ETs and more from Area 51 and mostly other American southwest organizations. Paglen presents each in a full plate with a page of text recto discussing, interpreting, or merely surmising on the stitched mysteries.
A friend bought me this as a present for me letting her stay at my house. It's a great coffee table book that shows and explains military patches from secret missions like Area-51 and stuff like that. This book will have you looking over your should after reading it out of fear that you just found out something you weren't supposed to about the government.
Absolutely fascinating look at the secret world of patches in the military. Paglen did an amazing amount of investigation and work to uncover these patches, and, more importantly, the world they represent. This book -- with its title on the cover on a real patch -- is fascinating even if you don't care at all about patches, the military, secret operations...
A collection of over 70 military patches tied to secret government operations. Some are explained, some are still technically classified and are eerily vague, like the one with an alien's head over a strange symbol with the message written in Latin "Let them hate so long as they fear."

Great little book, highly recommended.
Les Gehman
This is a very short book containing photographs of patches from secret projects and attempts to correlate the patch to particular secret projects. Obviously, there is not a lot to go on here besides conjecture. It's still a very interesting book worth a look.
Cool book for the coffee table, a conversation piece, nothing more. If you're into secret gov. programs these are nothing new. But if you enjoy seeing them put into a collection with a small description next to each, the book is worth having.
Not a challenge to read or anything, but this was fun. An amateur, not at all professional look at the possible meanings behind black ops badges that the military uses. Fun.
Mostly joke patches or patches belonging to test and evaluation units. Most if not all patches belong to aerospace projects, and not to infantry or other ground units.
Leonard Pierce
Delightful little book about the semiology of patches worn by civilian contractors working on Pentagon "black budget" projects. Alternately funny and disturbing.
The subject matter of this book really appealed to me. The sense of humor in some of these black program patches is great and the book is a fun, quick read.
learned alot about the hidden meanings of symbols on top secret military project patches and as well as historical now declassified projects.
This book is intriguing and very informative. For example, I learned the latin for "tastes like chicken." Two thumbs, way up.
Chris Johnsen
Cool collection of military patches from secret government programs. This definitely tickled my not-so-inner conspiracy theorist.
Apr 01, 2008 Gemma marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This looks awesome. Also, proof that the military is full of overgrowm little boys. But we knew that already.
I am happy to say I found some errors in this book, and no I won't tell you what they were.
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Trevor Paglen is an artist, writer, and experimental geographer whose work deliberately blurs lines between social science, contemporary art, journalism, and other disciplines to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world around us.

Paglen's visual work has been exhibited at Transmediale Festival, Berlin; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Institute of Co...more
More about Trevor Paglen...
Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights The Last Pictures Trevor Paglen: Invisible: Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes An Atlas of Radical Cartography

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