This book, where do we start? Loved it, and yet felt a little uneasy about the veracity of certain components.
Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen is the non-fiction story, in part about a parcel of land, out in the desert of America’s southwest known as Area 51. Officially this vast government base, bigger than some U.S. states, doesn’t exist. From the Dragon Lady, to Oxcart and MIGs, Area 51 is chock-a-block with mid-20th century aviation development and intrigue.
The true pivot point for Area 51 is not the tech and governmental post-war machinations, but the now infamous UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico. Yes, Area 51 tackles head on the now globally known standard setter of alien visitation and government cover-ups. Roswell and Area 51 are the Garden of Eden of 20th century conspiracy theorists.
The book hangs on anonymous interviews with a man that Jacobsen only identifies as an engineer for EG&G, a massive and powerful government contractor. Not just any engineer for any government contractor, but one man who was there at the moment of history and he has a real story to spin.
Some of the tales woven by Jacobsen’s EG&G contact are staggering. Rather than spoiling the revelations, we want you to read these gut wrenching ‘facts’ laid down by some unnamed and now apparently very elderly engineer.
Really, of all the data points mined from this EG&G engineer, the ‘Holy Grail’ of Area 51 is the “true” story behind the Roswell UFO crash of 1947, is almost too much. The claims start off with a twist of credibility, stark and logical ties to Nazi-era aviation technology, and then contort into grotesque near-implausibility of human experiments by Cold War combatants woven into a near intergalactic propaganda campaigns.
You see we were nagged by the concept of “maskarovas,” fake-outs, cover stories and wild fantasy designed to obfuscate the truth. Reading Area 51 we felt almost as if we were in the closing stanzas of Cold War maskarova perpetrated by both the Soviets and U.S. Misinformation cast against misinformation make for an uneasy truth when reading a book that claims to be fact.
So, we have mixed feelings about Area 51. Our impulse is to take the book, and its well researched construction, at face value. Accept it as a marvelous and stunning piece of post-Cold War secrecy busting journalism.
And yet, the shadow of an anonymous aging engineer with mind boggling elaborate claims, tempered our unreserved accolades, and it ends up looming large over the rest of an amazing book.
Area 51 is one of the most concise and popularly readable history about America’s national security apparatus, nuclear and secret aviation efforts from 1941 onward. And if the claims of one man, the witness to UFO history, are taken as truth then Area 51 is the biggest conspiracy buster of all time.
Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen was purchased for review by Boston Book Bums