Marc Weitz'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
Dec 22, 2011

really liked it
Read in December, 2011

This is not the Area 51 book for those of you who wear tin foil on your head. Written by a real reporter for the LA Times Magazine, this book examines fact-based accounts of Area 51. Mainly this book explains that all the crazy alien and UFO stories were the development and testing of advanced planes such as the U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird. We know these planes exist today, but it understandable that when these planes were being developed top-secretly in the 1950's and 1960's, a plane like the Blackbird, which travels at over 2,000 mph and at 90,000 feet, could be mistaken by observers as a UFO. This makes incredible sense.

The debunking of aliens aside, this book is mainly about the pilots and engineers behind these projects. The stories of these test pilots and engineers in the context of the Cold War is absolutely fascinating. There are stories of their ingenuity and bravery. The book deals heavily also with the development and testing of nuclear bombs. The incredible numbers behind these technical advances are fascinating. The book, through interviews, tells the individual stories of those who worked at Area 51. For conspiracy theorists, there is a lot of talk about the crash at Roswell and UFO sightings. Again, these seem very reasonably explained. One interesting thing to note: The Air Force was testing an experimental airplane that was drawing the attention of other pilots in the area. To keep the story from spreading the pilots put on gorilla masks, so that any other pilots who saw them would report seeing a strange-looking aircraft being flown by a gorilla and lose all credibility. It was so simple. It is suggested that the alien story may be a cover story for another classified project along the same lines.

This is a fun and interesting read about aviation and the development of nuclear weapons.
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