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Captured by Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe
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Captured by Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  56 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
The great minds of our species, employing ever more fabulous technology have peered into the depths & discovered that we exist on a tiny speck in a cosmos vast beyond comprehension. But there's one thing we've yet to discover: extraterrestrial life. We have heard no signals, found no alien picnic trash. Aliens who allegedly abduct people in the night have a strange way ...more
Hardcover, 415 pages
Published November 11th 1999 by Simon & Schuster (NY)
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Dennis Littrell
May 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alien-life
Achenbach, Joel. Captured by Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe (1999)*****
Entertaining, informative, irreverent

The title involves a pun on the word "captured." It is our imaginations that are captured by aliens, not our nubile bodies. The title sets the quasi-satirical tone for the revelations to come.

Achenbach's book, to my mind, is an outstanding work of journalism, clearly in the personally-involved tradition of people like Hunter S. Thompson, Gay Talese, Tom Wolf
Erik Graff
Oct 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Achenbach fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
A friend gave me a gift card to the local used bookstore, Armadillo's Pillow, for my birthday. I used it to purchase for my niece, the long-time dance student, a book about dance, and to purchase for myself Jacques Vallee's Anatomy of a Phenomenon and Achenbach's Captured by Aliens. I knew what to expect from Vallee, but Achenbach was a shot in the dark.

While entertaining, Captured by Aliens is neither well-researched nor well-organized. It's hard to go wrong with a book jumping from established
Pito Salas
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting non fiction, a lot about Carl Sagan, about Ufologists, about UFO crazies about cosmology. Very interesting read.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: future
I would recommend this book as a layman's overview of the Space Age. It gives us a speculative glimpse of where future astronomical research, as well as paranormal investigations, might lead. As the title suggests, Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach doesn't put much stock in pop culture's fascination with extraterrestrials. Yet, he can't brush off the many ET legends that once would have been confined to supermarket tabloids but now run amok on the Internet.
So Achenbach ends up in a confl
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-nature
Do not be fooled by the title, if you are looking for convincing stories of government conspiracies and anal probes, this is not the book for you.This is a thorough overview of both the science behind the search for extra-terrestrial life and the cultural aspects of the phenomenon. Sure, Carl Sagan looms large, particularly in the moving last chapter, but you will also meet people who talk about the Greys and the reptilians ( aliens among us.) I think he treats the "fringe" people with basic res ...more
Chris Baum
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Exceptionally good! A great nonfiction perspective of the universe and it's many potential species/organisms . . . interviews with NASA scientists, pictures insert throughout from the Hubble telescope, and interlaced with witty humor throughout. Though a little outdated (1999), still relevant on many levels in today's day and age. I've always been a sucker for space exploration and the possibilities that await us in the cosmos. Would recommend it to anyone who likes the techno/sci-fi, journalism ...more
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have to confess my hackles went up as I read the countless power-puffs on the back cover and first few pages of this book: they're all by journalists or prominent authors, none of them by actual, you know, scientists. That, say, Carl Hiaasen or Christopher Buckley thinks a book on the sciences is pretty damn' fine is, to be honest, a somewhat underwhelming accolade, along the lines of an endorsement by Britney Spears or Adam Sandler: what, by contrast, did the editors of Nature think?

Those hac
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's not often I read a book all the way through and then go back to re-read several chapters. Achenbach's style has spoken to me since I first started reading him in The Washington Post. I was curious to see if he'd hold up for an entire book.

It covers the philosphy of the universe, the history of theories, the rise and focus of NASA, and of course, those who are artifical intelligence specialists. Just when you think you might get bogged down in the politics of NASA, bam, the next chapter is
Richard Gartee
Dec 11, 2013 rated it liked it
First, this is neither a sci-fi novel nor a Whitley Strieberabduction fantasy. The title is rather tongue in cheek -- our attention is captured by the idea of aliens.
As a journalist for the Washington Post,Joel Achenbach has written about the space race, search for extraterrestrial life and UFOs. In this book he has assembled the results of countless interviews and space conferences into a non-fiction narrative that essentially concludes "Without data all we can do is make guesses and wild-eyed
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
The real star in this science-journalism book is NPR-commentator Achenbach's writing, which is easy reading and full of the ironic humor of Doonesbury. (There's plenty of material for irony.) The book is loosely about (1) real science, such as SETI's search for radio signals in space, (2) conspiracy theories, such as the one about the Roswell crash, and (3) New-Age-y feel-good aliens who give messages that sound like self-help books and never manage to tell us interesting things like whether the ...more
Mark Stephenson
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
The author interviewed Carl Sagan and many others of various persuasions as to the probability and existence of extra-terrestrial life. His sense of humor made this a very entertaining read, but he also expresses a serious purpose: to inform his readers of the dangers of self-deception as well as to comment on the human need to find meaning in our living on this evidently very unusual planet. A very enjoyable volume which periodically (and unintentionally) reminded me of Spencer W. Kimball's rep ...more
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-books-2004
I've enjoyed Joel's writing for years, and this is no different. He brings a reporter's eye and a sense of humor to topics that could otherwise be quite dense.
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