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

Annie Jacobsen
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 17 2011
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.

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"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

"A compelling narrative of 50 years of covert operations by the CIA, the U.S. military, and the mysterious "Atomic Energy Commission".... Her meticulous research makes for a fascinating read, as it intersperses the accounts of secret government projects with anecdotes from the people who made those projects happen."—Rachel Larimore, Slate

"An informative history...about the creativity, political acumen and courage of the high-flying Cold Warriors who sought to protect the free world in the decades after World War II."—Andrew Dunn, Bloomberg

"Jacobsen's take veers from the standard conspiracy narrative in just about every imaginable respect."Earl Swift, Popular Mechanics

"What Jacobsen believes happened in the New Mexican desert is more frightening than UFO conspiracies..."—Elizabeth Bair, Dallas Observer

About the Author

Annie Jacobsen was a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine and is the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Garbage May 21 2011
"Finished the book, and I did not care for it for a few main reasons. I cannot believe how much attention this garbage is getting. The parts about the U2 and A12/SR71 were for the most part pretty good, but much had been already written there. However, she was off base overall for a couple main reasons:

1. For some reason 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.

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. 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 even UFO researches and non believers would buy. 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 credible.

So let's get into specifics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Out In Space May 21 2012
I agree with the first reviewer, Foster, VS: I'm sorry I wasted time and money on this book. It's not just Jacobsen's breathless, sophomoric, 'Gosh-I-bet-you-didn't-know-that!' style that's irritating, there are, as Mr. Foster says, factual errors as well. I can't add much to what he has to say, because I doubt I am as well-informed on Area 51 literature as he is, but at least a couple of Jacobsen's arguments struck me as based on incomplete, biased or ignored information. One, on P. 72, is where she characterizes Capt. J. Edward Ruppelt (not 'Lt. E. J. Ruppelt' in her rendering) as an air Force stooge sent to rebuff ufologists and keep them away from the USAF's own UFO-related research in Project Blue book. In fact, Ruppelt was a much more complex personality than portrayed here and was genuinely concerned with developing objective, scientific criteria for evaluating UFO sightings - a fact that left him deeply disappointed with the dismissive attitude of the 1953 CIA-backed Robertson Panel - referred to by Jacobsen on P. 207, but without any cross-reference to Ruppelt. She also claims, on P.376, that 'Stalin had spies inside the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory who had been providing him with bomb blueprints and other information since 1941,' implying that the Soviets had methodically planted agents there, whereas David Greenglass, Klaus Fuchs and Theodore Hall acted at least partly on their own volition, approaching Soviet representatives as much as they were themselves approached - Stalin just got lucky. These and other misrepresentations make 'Area 51' a pretty frustrating read - and, as Mr. Foster points out, the final hypothesis (because that's all it is) about the debris at Roswell being a Russian flying-saucer containing the bodies of child-pilots developed by Nazi eugenicist Josef Megele is total nonsense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very educational reading Nov. 15 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ms. Jacobson really seems to have done her homework on this book. A very enlightening read about how the what was done in Area 51 and how the top secret organizations that operated there came to be. It can be slow reading because there are so many names and facts involved but those tend to make every thing written in this book entirely creditable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars area 51 Aug. 10 2012
By ray
full of crap if what she says about the 1947 roswell crash is true it would not still be classified
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is funny, but I wrote a review on the American site When this book first came out giving it 2 stars. For some odd reason FosterVS stole my review almost word for word and then even downgraded the review to 1 star. Anyway so if you read FosterVS's review know that it was attached to a 2 star review. Here is my original text from posted by me (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?
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