Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen

41 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.

I embarrassed to even say I read Area 51. It was like reading an extra super long issue of the National Inquirer. I saw Annie Jacobsen on The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart asked if UFO conspiracy buffs call her up to tell her she’s crazy. If they don’t, they probably ought to.

Jacobsen says this is the true story of Area 51 as told to her by very old men with nothing left to lose. On the surface, it looks like she’s offering what might be a more plausible (if no less disturbing) explanation of what happened there (as opposed to an Alien invasion). She says the US military used the area for testing experimental aircraft. That in itself would be enough. You could read it and say “Oh, yeah. Probably so. That explains it.”

This book is pure sensationalism, though, and like any good sensationalism the story is far from over at the point of plausible. She goes on to claim that much of the work done at Area 51 was done under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commission, up to and including nuclear tests. I thought we were getting to the most freakish part of the story at this point. My brother had to point out to me that nuclear contamination is something that can be measured with common instrumentation and is not something that could be kept secret for 60 years. Whew. Okay. Moving on now.

The real killer of the story is this. The so-called aliens that crashed in Roswell were not aliens at all but human children. They’d been surgically altered to look like aliens so as to cause general panic and mayhem among the American people. They were, you see, sent by Stalin.

Okay, you say? If it is true that Stalin had disc looking hover craft filled with human experiments (surgical work done by none other than the Nazi Mengele) in 1947, you have just two questions, don’t you? One, why didn’t Harry Truman tell us? Two, how did we even survive the Cold War?

Jacobsen tells us that Harry Truman couldn’t tell us the truth about Stalin’s atrocities because we were doing the same thing. We were running bizarre human experiments using former Nazis as doctors, and we were sending some pretty strange things into Russia as well.

As for how we survived the Cold War if Russia had such advanced technologies in 1947, I don’t think she really says. Probably it’s included in the large amount of information we still can’t know because it will forever be classified, and the people who were there are all dead of old age by now.

One of the more frighteningly amusing parts of Jacobsen’s tale is that Bill Clinton tried to find out what was going on at Area 51 while president and was told he didn’t have need to know. Hmmm…

I have to say I’ve never believed the weather balloon story, but at the same time I don’t think Harry Truman put Martians on ice and hid them from public knowledge. I have an easier time believing the Roswell crash had something to do with experimental military crafts, and I do find the idea intriguing that it could have even been a Russian craft rather than an American craft. Why the Russians would have sent something to crash in the desert rather than in a city, I don’t know, but I’d be willing to toy with the idea.

In fact I will toy with the idea, but that’s about as far as I’ll go. I’m not sure I believe Jacobsen’s secret source who exclusively revealed America’s darkest Cold War machinations only to her shortly before dropping dead never to reveal them to anyone else ever again.

We’re just one seance short of getting this scoop from Truman himself, and I think that would have been the icing on the book. Since the best she had was what someone said someone else said Eisenhower said, I guess I’ll just withhold judgment for now. Who knows? Maybe Obama will send a Seal team in to get the info that was denied to Clinton. Then we’ll have something to talk about.

Meanwhile, this book is basically just tabloid junk. You’ll probably want to rush right out and read it yourself to see just how bad it really is.