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Friday, June 17, 2011

Area 51...Review by the Doctor

About the book:
Area 51: It is the most famous military installation in the world. And it doesn't exist. Located a mere seventy-five miles outside of Las Vegas in Nevada's desert, the base has never been acknowledged by the U.S. government-but Area 51 has captivated imaginations for decades.

Myths and hypotheses about Area 51 have long abounded, thanks to the intense secrecy enveloping it. Some claim it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, and nuclear facilities. Others believe that the lunar landing itself was filmed there. The prevalence of these rumors stems from the fact that no credible insider has ever divulged the truth about his time inside the base. Until now.

Annie Jacobsen had exclusive access to nineteen men who served the base proudly and secretly for decades and are now aged 75-92, and unprecedented access to fifty-five additional military and intelligence personnel, scientists, pilots, and engineers linked to the secret base, thirty-two of whom lived and worked there for extended periods. In Area 51, Jacobsen shows us what has really gone on in the Nevada desert, from testing nuclear weapons to building super-secret, supersonic jets to pursuing the War on Terror.

This is the first book based on interviews with eye witnesses to Area 51 history, which makes it the seminal work on the subject. Filled with formerly classified information that has never been accurately decoded for the public, Area 51 weaves the mysterious activities of the top-secret base into a gripping narrative, showing that facts are often more fantastic than fiction, especially when the distinction is almost impossible to make.

I think the best way that I can write this review is to do it in two parts, because for me this book is really two books in one book.

The bulk of the book is a review of the history of Area 51, and its association with the U2 project, the A-12 Oxcart project and the UAV/Predator projects. As someone who loves the history of "black ops" America, I found this incredibly fascinating. I was very blessed in my life to have met somebody who worked in that kind of field and who, to his deathbed, never told me a damn thing about it, even though he knew I was chomping at the bit to learn more.

I loved the technical specifications, and the descriptions of the lonely life of the scientist living in a place which still to this day is not recognized as officially existing. The photos in the book were phenomenal, especially when detailing the A-12 Oxcart project, and its eventual “bastard stepchild”, the SR 71 Blackbird, which I still think is the most beautiful airframe to ever get off the ground. I found the bulk of this book fascinating, and well researched. A wonderful story told in a wonderful narrative.

The second "part" of this book, although it is a theme that runs through the book, details the Roswell crash, and the multitude of theories that have grown up around the remnants of whatever it was that crashed. Anyone familiar with the Roswell incident will tell you that the number of different stories out there about this supposed "UFO" crash, and subsequent cleanup by the military, are legend, and grow more fantastic with each telling. I'm not going to spoil the book by telling you the author’s theory, because I honestly do think this book is worth buying just for the historical aspect alone. I'll just say that I disagree with her eventual conclusions, even though I have nothing concrete to disprove it. Does this make me a Roswell "believer"? I don't know, other than the fact that every time someone has used the theory of Occam's razor (look it up if you don't know it) to try and explain something to me, invariably it turned out to be an attempt to cover up something more.

In summary, I think Mulder and Scully would give this two thumbs up, and then Mulder would go on to explain why the author is wrong about Roswell, while Scully rolls her eyes skyward in sheer frustration.

My recommendation is to buy this book, because it's a great read, well researched and good fun. It will remind you of the time when America lead the world, and created some really interesting technology while doing it.

Thanks to Anna Balasi from Hatchette Books for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Annie Jacobsen here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars


  1. I am so glad you reviewed this book as I have been very curious about it. I am an Area 51 nut. I love to hear all the theories out there about what went on there and all the conspiracies, even the far fetched ones. Some of them can be quite humorous! I will be adding this to my to read list after reading your review.

  2. I have a feeling my son would love this book!