Erik Graff's Reviews > Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

Area 51 by Annie   Jacobsen
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's review
Aug 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Recommended to Erik by: Erik Badger
Recommended for: Americans
Read in August, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

A great deal has been written about the Nevada Test and Training Range, much of it disinformation, much of it rumor or nonsense. Jacobsen's Area 51, based in part on public record, in part on interviews, is an accessible and generally accurate history of the area and what has occurred there since 1951, all of it originally secret, much of it profoundly disquieting.

Running as a leit motif throughout the book is reference to what happened outside Roswell, NM in 1947, an event finally explained in the final chapter. Here, in a section based upon the alleged testimony of one informant trusted by the author, what has hitherto been a coherent narrative falls apart. Roswell, we are told, was indeed near the site of crashed disks, recovered along with bizarre bodies, two of them still barely alive, by the military. Neither the crafts nor their occupants were, however, extraterrestrial. Rather they had been made to appear that way. In fact, they were a psychops project of the Soviets based, like our own rocketry, upon Nazi science. This story, as Jacobsen relates it, cannot possibly be true.

First, according to all accounts I have encountered, the USSR had no capacity to fly to the SW USA in 1947. If these were Soviet craft, then they must have flown in from Mexico or the sea. Whatever the case, Jacobsen writes as if range were no problem, as if they travelled from Siberia, across North America, to our most sensitive military installations.

Second, if it were a Soviet psychops intended to emulate the panic-engendering Mercury Theatre broadcast of The War of the Worlds, why was Russian writing found on one of the craft and why were they crashed in such a remote area? Such being the case the only fear that would be engendered would be in the hearts of the U.S. military leadership, fear of technological inferiority and perhaps of the perversity of the communist adversary.

Third, if the Soviets actually did have flying disks capable of evading radar detection and of traversing US airspace, why didn't they just use them like we used the U2? If the intention was to spy, then the crashes broke the secrecy and tended to defeat the purpose. Surely, if spying was the intention, then the crashes must have been accidents, but Jacobsen doesn't discuss this possibility.

Fourth, if the extraordinary disks and the bizarre creatures in them were actually the result of developments in Nazi science, how come these engineering and biological breakthroughs saw so little use or development? The German Horten prototypes pictured in the book are nowhere represented as being capable of the antics the New Mexico disks are reported to have achieved. Further, the surgical alteration of children--a practice the informant claims the USA went on to emulate--would seem to serve no practical purpose whatsoever, except perhaps the psychops one discounted above.

One could go on--and one suspects Stanton Friedman, the Roswell expert, will.

Yet, despite the thoughtless, self-contradictory sensationalism of the author's concluding chapter, the rest of Area 51 is recommended.
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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve Eric, which Friedman book on Roswell do you recommend?

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