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 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 20 men who served on the base proudly and secretly for decades and are now aged 75-92; she also had unprecedented access to 55 additional military and intelligence personnel, scientists, pilots, and engineers linked to the secret base, 32 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 supersecret supersonic jets to pursuing the War on Terror. This is the first book based on interviews with eyewitnesses 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 fact is often more fantastic than fiction, especially when the distinction is almost impossible to make.
©2011 Annie Jacobson (P)2011 Hachette
I don't understand how the mythology of the jet-flying gorilla hasn't been more widely circulated. I guess it's not as spectacular as a crashed alien flying saucer. Oh, well.
There are a lot of secrets uncovered in this book. Some amusing, some long-suspected, some bizarre, and some just plain sad. But all are fascinating and well worth the time and the listen. I'm often reluctant to listen to a book narrated by the author, but when Annie Jacobsen is not busy researching or writing she could do well with a second career as a narrator.
I only gave the "Story" attribute 4 stars because, well, it isn't a story. It's history. I don't think it could have been structured any better than it was, but by being reality instead of fiction, there was necessarily a certain lack of flow to the narrative, especially as changing subjects required jumping back in time.
Overall it’s a compelling look at what people do when they have unlimited budgets and no oversight. Sometimes the results are amazing, and sometimes they're just criminal. But what they should never be is secret.
Thanks, Annie, you’ve done us all a favor bringing these things to light. Maybe it will make some people think in the future before deciding to walk down some of these paths again.
ELLE aka PlantCrone of the Great Pacific Northwest. I enjoy almost every genre-S/F, Action, Biographies and Histories & Romance
As the daughter of a 4 decade Lockheed employee during the cold war era, and whos dad was gone a lot during that time, this book opened a lot of memories for me. My dad couldn't talk about why he was gone during the week but I suspect now that he was at Area 51. I wish he could have talked about it, but he apparently stuck to his clearance rules.
I'm not a Area 51 alien freak, so I very much enjoyed the research Ms Jacobson did along other lines for this decade spanning book. Yes it's written and told with reporter exaggeration to some extent but I found the science of it correct and the story very interesting...it held my attention.
Recommended for those who enjoy light science. A disappointment for those who are convinced the Aliens have been with us since the 1940s. I was glad I learned why Area 51 is called Area 51.
I have told myself that I am not going to review books anymore until I have finished reading them, but here again, I just can't hold back. What a great story. Okay, I grabbed the book because it was about "Area 51"...expecting more crazy stuff about aliens, UFOs and the like. Hello?
To my surprise and DELIGHT, it presents a much more plausible scenario of exactly what is Area 51's purpose. My interests definitely do not include war stories, airplane statistics, or politics, international affairs, etc., all of which take up 90% of this narrative, but I was never bored or put off by the author. Instead, I was thoroughly caught up in the natural unfolding of the story. Ms. Jacobsen delivers a well-researched timeline of the events that have occurred there over the past 60 years. It just makes a lot of sense, what else can I say?
One last thing -- Ms. Jacobsen is reading her own work, and she does it very well. I am always glad when the author does the narration because that person is most familiar with the subject, and the nuances and expressions, pauses, etc. are so natural. I can also sympathize with those folks who have found flaws in her pronounciation of some place names. I, myself, did not realize that she mispronounced anything, so it didn't affect me.
I am having a great time with this book, even though it is not what I expected. Of course, I have not gotten to the epilogue, which I gather from reading other reviews, will be eye-popping. I do recommend this book, no matter what your interests are. Your time will definitely not be wasted, no matter what your tastes in reading material.
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis
Very reveaing history that debunks the UFO people. But the real explanation is more horrible than you can imagine. AN EYE OPENER FOR SURE.
Never believed in Aliens and knowing Stalin is a madman this seems very plausible. Just wish the Government would really say what happened there.
Yes. Despite being in the aerospace business for 25 years and having some exposure to the parts of the SR-71 spy plane, I still learned more than I expected.
I found the descriptions of some of the above ground nuclear weapons testing/methods/clean up surprising. I also found the story of the turf battle between the CIA and Air Force in the 50-60's quite interesting.
One of the most enjoyable and interesting non-fiction books I have ever listened too. If you have ANY interest in Area 51 and the rumours about it, this is an absolute must read. It details everything-atomic testing, spy planes, drones, Roswell, and how each was developed and used-and all the politics and deliberate mis-information attached to each. What, Why, and How they do so many things there, that will amaze, and disturb you.
What you didn't want to know, about what you didn't want to know. There all there, all the famous scientist you've heard about. Makes me wish I didn't live so close.
I loved the story and the mystery of Area 51, but some info from this book clashes with other books. I hope and pray that the mentally handicaped children part isn't true with our great country, USA, if true those people should be faceing the death penalty.
Her devotion to research.
I loved the book and story, well done Annie Jacobson.
This book is not about aliens but classified and declassified top secret programs at Area 51 in Nevada. This includes the staggering number of atomic tests that were preformed there and the agencies involved. Historical research was presented on the U-2, A-12 Oxcart, SR-71 Blackbird, Horten Flying Disk and the Predator and Raptor Drone programs. All of the programs were put into historical context and proved fascinating. A number of the finding were from Freedom of Information requests and released in this book publicly for the first time.
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