Annie Jacobsen's investigative work 'Area 51' first interested me when I caught an interview on NPR's Morning Edition. She herself has a great radio/listening voice. Sort of a Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson speaking low and a little raspy the day after attending a big game. Seeing her on The Daily Show sealed it for me: I had to see if this was available on Audible.
I expected to feel let-down by feebly-supported suppositions and accusations based on common alien and conspiracy lore. Jacobsen delivered instead a very well-investigated piece spanning some seven decades of secret US military, intelligence and corporate R&D. And this book contributes to the Area 51 conspiracy colloquy as a pillar of hard research and rationality, at least, perhaps, the best that can be done with the most recently declassified documents still decades old.
There are still some very difficult, if not dubious claims made. But they at least are claims that mesh with how the world works, and not fantastic claims of alien visitors. Annie Jacobsen attributes the least-believable, most deeply-concealed secrets to our collective fears of insecurity, legal liability, moral viability and military effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) before the wider world. The picture she paints is of too few men with too much power and not enough accountability accomplishing astonishing scientific and technological feats, often by means so shady and with consequences so damaging that hiding was deemed a better option than transparency.
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