Rick'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 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011
Read in August, 2011

This was a pretty great book. Primarily, the challenges with it are in the editing - the arrangement and flow of the information the author gleaned in her endlessly fascinating research and interview process. It had its genesis as an article in the LA Times, apparently, which is interesting because it sort of reads as an anthology of articles strung together, not just one, extended one. You know. One of those books where the same little background information or anecdotes appear throughout, because originally it was written as if people might only read one of the articles, but when it's strung together, it seems a bit repetitive. There are larger organizational/editing challenges as well, primarily with the source of her information of her more fantastical claims at the end of the book. Jacobsen seems a dilligent researcher, and because the single source for the Roswell information could not be verified externally, she presents it outside of the narrative of the rest of the book, in a different manner. This got me thinking. It's kind of interesting. Of COURSE there are editing problems when reporting on something so endlessly secret, compartmentalized and need-to-know. In a way, the book almost reflects the secrecy practices of Area 51 itself. It also reminds me of the three blind men and the elephant. While some of the interview subjects were high level, many were not, and their perspective into Area 51 - even if they were there 30 years - was compartmentalized.

Still though. An insanely interesting read, even if you aren't a conspiracy theorist. Worth it just for the trivia. Did you know the guy who ran the Manhattan Project founded Reytheon? That the E in EG&G Is the same guy who made that awesome photo of a bullet going through an apple? That the reason Obama relies on drones so much more than Bush did is because the bulk of our drone fleet came online in the last weeks of Bush's presidency? That The CIA asked if they could assassinate Bin Laden before 9/11 with a Predator and the State Department blocked it? That there's a layer of dead bugs flying around the world 80,000 feet in the air from the nuclear tests of the 40's? That we almost went to war with Korea in the middle of the Vietnam war? That Top Gun sprung from the research we did on a stolen Mig fighter? Crazy crazy crazy.

More than anything, though, you come away totally terrified of the things our government does in our name, and a profound realization how hopeless the military industrial complex situation really is.

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