Kurt'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
Oct 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Recommended to Kurt by: Jon Stewart
Recommended for: Students of history; people interested in the military or black ops.


Area 51 is an amazing book. It's packed with some much personal stories regarding America's military history that it's incredible Annie Jacobsen was able to get primary sources for as much as she did. Reading the Kindle version, you should know that the last 32% of the book is all notes (footnotes) with links to her sources and further information. So if you're daunted by the length, you only have to get through 68% of it.

With that said, all you ever hear about Area 51 is the mythos surrounding aliens. 95% of the content in this book has nothing to do with that at all. And the 5% that does relate to Roswell actually has an (arguably) plausible explanation for all the talk of aliens and flying saucers coming out of Area 51.

Regardless, though, the most interesting things in this book have to do with gaining a better understanding of exactly how America was trying to fight against the looming specter of communism. The parts of this book that address WWII and the Cuban Missile Crisis were riveting because it gave me a completely different perspective on exactly what was going on behind the scenes. Understanding the dynamics of the CIA and the Air Force, as well as the personal relationships that led to the creation of Predator drones, the U-2 and the F-117 stealth bomber adds color to what's happening today in the War on Terror.

In fact, the only reason I give this book 4 stars instead of 5 stars is because some times it's hard to keep all of the characters straight.Annie Jacobsen packed a lot of information in to one book; and she packed a lot of people's stories in to one book. Keeping them all straight requires a large white board with a tree diagram. And while Annie Jacobsen did a decent job of reminding me who did what, it was still a little difficult at times.

Read this book.
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Reading Progress

October 30, 2011 – Started Reading
October 30, 2011 – Shelved
November 19, 2011 –
16.0% "So far, this book is amazing."
November 23, 2011 –
26.0% "This book is long, but it's riveting. The way the author structured it around the people involved in Area 51 in addition to personalizing the tensions between the Soviets and the Americans is perfect."
February 21, 2012 – Shelved as: history
February 21, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by carla (new) - added it

carla Love your review, can't wait to read the book now!

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