Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Area 51: An Uncensored History Of America's Top Secret Military Base By Annie Jacobsen

Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base
By Annie Jacobsen

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Product Description

Area 51

It is the most famous military installation in the world. And it doesn't exist. Located a mere seventy-five miles outside of Las Vegas in Nevada's desert, the base has never been acknowledged by the U.S. government-but Area 51 has captivated imaginations for decades.

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 itself 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 nineteen men who served the base proudly and secretly for decades and are now aged 75-92, and unprecedented access to fifty-five additional military and intelligence personnel, scientists, pilots, and engineers linked to the secret base, thirty-two 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 super-secret, supersonic jets to pursuing the War on Terror.

This is the first book based on interviews with eye witnesses 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 facts are often more fantastic than fiction, especially when the distinction is almost impossible to make.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #389221 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-06-22
  • Format: Large Print
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.75" h x 2.25" w x 6.50" l, 2.58 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 832 pages
Editorial Reviews

"Cauldron-stirring. [AREA 51] is not science fiction. It is an assertive account, revelatory ... Ms. Jacobsen has put together a set of strong allegations about Area 51's covert history ... Her research into the world of 'overhead,' the aerial espionage that needed to be developed in extreme secrecy, is compellingly hard-hittting ... the book is noteworthy for its author's dogged devotion to her research." (The New York Times )

About the Author
Annie Jacobsen is a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine and an investigative reporter whose work has also appeared in The National Review and The Dallas Morning News. Her two-part series The Road to Area 51 was one of the most read in the Los Angeles Times Magazine. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

279 of 315 people found the following review helpful.
1Full of factual errors
By S. Bucki
I'm through the first four chapters of the book and I can already see that the author got an "F" in science. She may be a good reporter and a skilled writer, but she should have the book reviewed by a knowledgeable science consultant before publishing. The mistakes are so obvious that they destroy all credibility.

Here are some examples. On page 21, the author refers to the panic caused by the radio broadcast of the "War of the Worlds". She mentions that the public was "sensitized" due to recent technological advances, and she cites the jet engine, the radar and the microwave oven. None of these devices were known to the general public in 1938. Experimental jet engines were being developed in the UK and Germany, but were virtually unheard of in the USA. Radar was also in an experimental phase, and shrouded by a great deal of secrecy because of its military potential. The secrecy was so great that even the German military was not aware about the progress made in the field in the USA and UK, lets alone general public. Finally, the heating effect of microwaves was not discovered until 1945.

Then on page 29 the author says that the nuclear blast travels at 100 mph. As with any explosion, the shockwave travels at the speed of sound (approx. 700 mph).

On page 33 she refers to Peenemunde as the fabrication site for German V2 rockets. V2 was produced at Mittelwerk in the Kohnstein. The initial production line built at Peenemunde was destroyed in a RAF bomd raid. Peenemunde was the test site for V2 rockets, not a production site.

On page 34, the author refers to V2 as a "winged missile". V1 was the winged missile (a precursor of today's cruise missiles), while the V2 was a ballistic missile without wings, only small control surfaces in the tail.

And all these in the first 30 or so pages of the book...

Now, regarding the mysterious Soviet "flying saucer". There is absolutely no evidence that the Soviets had the technology to build a compact aircraft capable of flying at 1200 mph, intercontinental range, hovering capability, and stealthy in 1947. In fact, nobody is capable of building such an aircraft today. If such an aircraft was ever developed over 60 years ago, some information would have leaked out by now. Moreover, if the Soviets had such technology, why didn't they use it improve the performance of their military aircraft during the Cold War armament race?

100 of 112 people found the following review helpful.
1Absolute trash, riddled with mistakes and outright lunacy
By Engineer
This may be the worst book published this year. The author is clearly ignorant of the simplest and most basic facts of aeronautics, science, history, and physics, and combines that ignorance with a total lack of scepticism to create a breathtakingly stupid book. If you believe her, this is what happened in the 1940s and 1950s:

The German military, while being bombed day and night, using slide rules and pencils, invented a type of winged non-helicopter aircraft that can hover in flight and fly from Russia to the United States on one tank of gas(?)

All countries since then have been unable to duplicate this German feat, after 65 years and the invention of supercomputers and modern aerospace technology.

The Russians captured this super-flying saucer thingie. They don't use it to make super fighters or ultra-bombers--instead they used British technology given to them in the 1940s to make the MiG-15, just in time to be shot down at a rate of 10 to 1 in Korea. For bombers, they copied a B-29 piston-driven US bomber that landed in Russia during World War 2.

Joseph Stalin, because he remembered the Orson Welles broadcast of "War of the Worlds," from ten years before, decides to use this unique, super-advanced incredible German saucer technology not to win the Cold War, but to "panic" America. Never mind that he's working on a real A-bomb that will do a pretty good job on scaring Americans in a year or so.

To make it extra-spooky, Stalin has an SS scientist (who was hiding in Austria at the time, by the way)"geneticaly alter" children to make them look like spooky aliens. (The discovery of the DNA helix was years in the future, but never mind about that. Never mind that the scary alien-children were supposed to be 13 years old, which means that the plan had to start in the 1930s, before the super-saucer was invented and before World War 2 or the Cold War began.)

Risking certain exposure of his incredible super-saucer thingie, Stalin's master plan is carried out--he panics America by crashing the saucer in a cow pasture in Roswell, New Mexico. Once again, that was the diabolical master plan---panic America by crashing one "saucer" in the boonies of New Mexico.(Never mind that, before satellite technology, controlling any aircraft at thousands of miles of distance was impossible, unless of course the alien-child martians were also taught to fly.)

Americans scientists, are so impressed by the super-duper saucer and the super-scary aliens that they:

1. Never use the technology themselves, and continue to build nice old jet fighters and get to the moon using old-fashioned rockets.

2. Manage to conceal such an incredible event for 60 years.

3. Decide that Stalin has such a good idea that they should start experimenting on humans too.

After the Cold War ends, when this secret would literally be worth billions of dollars, Soviet scientits, who are forced to rely on Western charity to eat and do research, don't reveal the super-duper flying saucer.

The one man who knows the truth(of course, only one man knows the truth) who is now in his 90s, keeps this incredible secret quiet for decades and then tells it to the author for no money at all, when, if he could prove 10% of his story, he could make Donald Trump look like a charity case.

Are you kidding? I mean, really, can you read the above without laughing? All we need is Bigfoot and Leprechauns and its perfect, right??

The author and this book would be a joke if she didn't cross one very, very ugly line: she accuses real people, with real families, BY NAME, of ordering human experimentation, without a shred of evidence. That is disgusting, that is unethical, and that is poor, poor journalism. She bases those repulsive accusations, and the whole insane story detailed above, on the word of ONE, repeat ONE, old man in his 90s. She has been lied to, and she has lapped it up and she has spewed it out for the ignorant and the unwary to consume.

Along with the insanity detailed above, this book is riddled, on page after page, with factual errors, misinterpretations, obvious misunderstandings of the basics of science and technology, and just plain poor writing. It is a shame, a SHAME, that such garbage was accepted by any publishing house, and it is a disgrace that this piece of trash was reviewed by the New York "Times."

The author and everyone involved in producing this book should be ashamed of themselves.

341 of 404 people found the following review helpful.
2UPDATE Embellishing author strikes again with factual errors and speculation passed off as truth
By Laramie75
Finished the book, and I did not care for it for a few main reasons. I cannot believe how much attention this is getting. The parts about the U2 and A12/SR71 were for the most part pretty good, but much had been already written there.

For an article showing her previous embellishment see this. She has a history of misrepresenting things. They won't let me post a link but look on Snopes and search for Annie Jacobsen. You will see how she operates.

The first sign that there were issues was in her own article promoting the book. She wrote in an article shortly before the book came out this statement: "one of the NERVA tests, which allowed a Mars-bound nuclear rocket to overheat to 4,000+ degrees Celsius until it burst, sending radioactive chunks as large as 148 pounds into the atmosphere". Do a search for this phrase and you can find the article on the web. This statement is completely false. The really annoying thing is her book doesn't even say this. She is much closer to the truth in the book itself that a reactor (not a rocket) was detonated on the ground as part of a planned test. They never launched a mars-bound rocket from the NTS and she knew this but willingly exaggerated in her promotional article. I have a problem with an author who can't even reference HER OWN MATERIAL accurately. What does that say about the rest of the book?

Overall the three major flaws with this book are as follows:

1. She talked a lot about the Nevada Test Site and clearly had not done much research on it as many statements were factually wrong. She greatly exaggerates the nuclear rocket test stories and Project 57 and makes them sound far worse than they are. There are documents available to the public that show exactly what went on with both of these and she even sourced a few but chose to rely on bar stories instead to discount official accurate records. She had a horrible map drawn up in the front of the book when she could have gotten a better one anywhere.

2. Which brings me to the next major flaw. She relied too much on stories from people that were not verifiable, even when her notes show she had better sources to use for much of the information. Several of the notes, when followed to the back of the book are attributed to "defensible speculation" based on her unnamed source.

3. She totally lost all credibility when she presented as fact the whole Roswell was a Russian craft and the aliens were created by Mengele theory. All of it was presented as fact and credited to only an interview with an anonymous EG&G engineer. She started and finished the book with this ridiculous theory that UFO researchers and non believers would each find silly. The focus on this tainted the whole book in my opinion. I believe she thought she had found the Deep Throat of Roswell when really either it was someone pulling her leg, or someone deliberately trying to discredit her to make the rest of the book suspect. However, I could have set that aside if there were not so many other issues in the book.

UPDATE: I have seen a few interviews and she said she has full trust in her "source" and he fully believes what he "was told". So her source isn't even a first hand source. He just dropped another into level of unreliability. Yet she is willing to discount 60 years of research and history in favor of his story.

So let's get into specifics. On top of the Roswell garbage she presents, she has so many trivial yet easily recognizable facts incorrect that it also tainted the whole book. For example:

She states that the US got V-2 rockets from Pennemunde, this is not true as the Soviets captured that base. The V-2s we got were from plants in western Germany.

In chapter 6 she states that the Nevada Test Site encompassed 1,350 acres and she repeated that on NPR. Well I don't know how an editor let that go by since thats only TWO SQUARE MILES. 1350 square miles is the correct statement.

She says the first atomic bomb exploded on US soil was at the NTS in 1951. What about the Trinity test in New Mexico in 1945?

She seems to want to equate a "safety test" or a nuclear reactor test with a nuclear explosion. They are not the same. Testing a nuclear-powered reactor would not be a violation of the test ban treaty.

Area 51 was not named such because it was in 1951. This of course if from her suspicious source. Most sources say it began in 1955 but the NTS areas were all parceled out in 1950 and it could have been done then. Either way the areas there do not have any relation to years.

She states that Czar Nicholas was shot in 1918, setting off the Russian Revolution. The Revolution was well under way by 1918.

She rants about why the DOE would change their name 4 times in 60 years if there was nothing to hide, instead of understanding that the mission of the Manhattan Project - AEC - DOE has changed over the years and the name was changed to reflect that. She says the FBI only changed their name once. Well pretty much it has been a federal bureau that has performed investigations since it started. She seemed to be trying to make everything more sinister than it really was.

Just a few little errors but they point to faulty research overall which makes anything else in the book suspect.

To be fair the parts on the U2, SR-71 and some other aircraft testing and some of the cold war spy flight stories were interesting (two stars worth only) but not enough to make up for the ridiculous Roswell theory the book starts and ends with and they are even tainted with some doubt because of the other errors and overly dramatic storytelling.

The story of Area 51 and the Nevada Test Site are fascinating enough without embellishment and relying on bar stories. If you want a good Area 51 book get Dreamland by Phil Patton. It is based on facts and when speculation is made, he clearly states that.

For all you who give this 5 stars for who knows why please do some of your own research. You can easily find better information on the Nevada Test Site, the nuclear rocket program, Project 57, etc than you will get from this book. If you want a history of Area 51, get Dreamland, if you want spy plane stories, get "By Any Means Necessary" by Burrows, for nuclear rocket stuff get Dewar's "To The End Of The Solar System".



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