This book bills itself as an "uncensored history" of the secret military base, but feels much more like a telling of the declassified aspects of its history. The majority of the book is made up of easily
believable histories and anecdotes of mostly known weapons testing in the Nevada desert and the end of the book contains the items of a more sensational nature. The problem is that there are so many
statements in the early part of the book that are either scientifically or historically incorrect, misleading or grammatically confusing that they make it hard to believe the later statements. Here are some of them:
STATEMENT: The killing of the Russian royal family triggered the Russian Civil War.
COMMENT: The Russian revolution began in Feb 1917, tsar Nicholas abdicated in March, the Bolshevik revolution took place in Nov and the Rominovs were executed in July 1918, long after the revolution started (all dates Julian).
STATEMENT: One of the spy planes landed on the island of Kadena.
COMMENT: There is no island of Kadena. She probably means that the spy planes landed at Kadena AFB on the island of Okinawa.
STATEMENT: Generals wearing stars on their chests?
COMMENT: Generals, like all officers in the US military, wear their insignias on their shoulders and collars.
STATEMENT: Rods from God traveling at 10,000 miles per second?
COMMENT: I don't think so. 10,000 miles per second is the same as approx MACH 48,000, and nothing can move that quickly in the earth's atmosphere. The air cannot get out of the way quickly enough. She probably meant 10,000 miles per hour (or approx MACH 13). That is closer to what all of the online articles about this weapon specify as its possible speed.
There are more, but I think this is enough to make the point. If I cannot believe what I read in the body of the book, how can the author expect me to believe the more sensational parts of the book?
Having said all of that parts of the book are moderately interesting.
I read this book in paper format more than 30 years ago, but I had forgotten how good it really is. When I saw it available in audible format I jumped at the chance to listen to a previous good read.
Some of the reviews I have read are very hard on the book, but I believe that the are looking in the wrong place. What makes this book so interesting and unique, at least to me, was the idea that humans could encounter aliens so different that all of our assumptions would be wrong. How do two species interact when one is general and adaptive in nature and the other is differiented. That is at the core of this story; at least for me.
The process of meeting, all of the mistaken assumptions and the final realization as to just how different the species are is, I believe, a very interesting story with, for new readers, an unknown conclusion.
But listeners should know that this story is from 1974 and hence some of the story line is 35 years out of date. I believe that to be the cause of some of the bad reviews. Perhaps those listeners did not know the copyright date and might have been more charitable to the male-centered character of the story.
All in all I think this is a nearly great book with more than adequate reading.
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