posted on May, 31 2011 @ 10:34 AM
My friend T.D. is far too kind. Jacobsen's book has a lot more problems than just the final chapter. This was supposed to be a history of Area 51 but
it is not.
The first two chapters focus on UFOs, presenting the unverifiable and largely discredited Bob Lazar tales as facts. The UFO lore is so peripheral to
the Groom Lake history that it could be entirely left out without detracting from the story and, in fact, enhancing it.
Chapter Three is straightforward history, making it one of the stronger sections of the book. Unfortunately it also contains some factual errors that
could have been easily checked and corrected prior to publication.
The fourth chapter is not relevant to Area 51 other than to suggest that high-altitude aircraft from Nevada were responsible for many UFO sightings.
This chapter raises the specter of Nazis, Soviets, and the Horten brothers, along with the specious premise that the Roswell debris was shipped to
Nevada. It also builds up the forthcoming Stalin UFO hoax nonsense and drags the reader through a primer on Project Bluebook/Sign/Grudge, etc. that
would be better suited to a different book.
The fifth and sixth chapters are on firmer ground with their historical narrative but are, again, rife with factual errors. There are misleading
statements like the description of Project 57 as a "dirty bomb" and describing the experiment as the first of its kind (there were four the previous
year under Project 56).
At a quick pass, Chapter Seven and Eight are mostly pretty solid. I have a few minor quibbles, mostly with regard to lost opportunities. Chapter Nine
seems OK except for drifting away from Area 51 toward the end, and into some nuclear testing history outside of Nevada. This digression seems mostly
to be an excuse to dredge up Nazis again through a Wernher von Braun connection.
Chapters Ten and Eleven are mostly good but still plagued with factual errors that appear to be the result of relying on single sources without effort
to double-check or corroborate details. Several myths, now disproven, are repeated for another generation of readers (President Lyndon Johnson
supposedly reversing the letters of RS-71 to SR-71 in a speech, for example).
Early in Chapter Twelve there seems to be a conflation of concerns regarding the X-15 and possible Oxcart sightings with the X-15 pilot UFO sightings
that were correctly identified at the time as flakes of ice.
In Chapter Thirteen we are once again back on solid ground with the history but, as usual, there are factual errors. We also have another lengthy
aside on nuclear testing in the Pacific that seems largely unnecessary.
Chapters Fourteen through Seventeen are everything this book should have been. There are a few minor glitches but no show-stoppers. I wish the whole
book could have been like this.
The book goes off the rails in Chapter Eighteen. There are examples of misleading statements, factual errors, and a general lack of knowledge on the
part of the author. There are, nevertheless, some great stories but they have nothing to do with Area 51.
In Chapter Nineteen the reader is introduced to some of the wilder allegations about Area 51. Perhaps this chapter would have been a good place to
summarize and debunk all of the conspiracy theories surrounding the secret base and leave it at that. Unfortunately this is the chapter where Jacobsen
sets the stage for the most controversial elements of the book.
But first we have the inane opening sentences of Chapter Twenty ("What happened at Area 51 during the 1980s? Most of the work remains classified and
very little else is known."). She gives lie to this statement by going on to describe stealth projects, exploitation of foreign aircraft, and
unmanned vehicles tested during the time in question. There are, as usual, factual errors both minor and egregious.
So, finally we come to the infamous Chapter Twenty-One. After a lengthy discussion of drones, satellites, and secrecy, Jacobsen hangs her credibility
and reputation on the most outlandish Area 51 story ever foisted upon the unsuspecting public. Worse yet, it is based on the testimony of a single
person whose identity is concealed from the reader. This ludicrous tale, presented as fact despite a paucity of evidence and total lack of
corroboration, is a twisted conflation of Cold War paranoia, Communist/Nazi conspiracies, human experimentation, and U.S. government cover-up. It
posits an improbable plot to try to cause a panic in America by crashing a fake flying saucer (with fake alien crew of genetically engineered deformed
human children) in the most remote part of the southwestern U.S. where the wreckage wasn't found or reported for days. (Wouldn't New York or
Washington, D.C., have been more logical targets.)
This framework is then used to set up EG&G and the Atomic Energy Commission as villains participating in a cover-up in order to protect the alleged
fact that the U.S. was "doing the same thing." Jacobsen also assaults the reader with a completely bogus claim that Area 51 was created in 1951,
contrary to well documented historical narratives, for the purpose of storing and analyzing crash remains from Roswell. I wont rehash all of the
details here but, suffice to say, the story does not withstand scrutiny. It fails to pass the most basic tests of logic and evidence.
This insanity continues in the Epilogue. Unfortunately, this is what will make the most lasting impression upon readers. The stories of the real Cold
War heroes of Area 51 are lost amidst the conspiracy rant.