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Good but 'safe' intro to the subject
on July 22, 2013
Kean makes a convincing case as to the physical reality of UFOs, the fact that they have been and are seen treated as of the utmost importance by governments all over the world (including the US, which routinely denies it), that they pose real safety concerns (e.g., in restricted airspace), and that a serious scientific study of the phenomenon is called for (including taking seriously the ET and interdimensional hypotheses). The book is very conservative in nature, focusing solely on highly documented reports, what can be considered the 'best evidence'. This is understandable, given Kean's motives of appealing to scientists, academics, and the otherwise unconvinced (i.e., 'What? Everyone knows UFOs are kooky! Aren't they?'). So there are no mentions of alien abductions, 'greys', or any other such 'high strangeness'. Secretive government conspiracies are considered but not argued for, and the material presented pretty much sticks to the hard facts: military sightings, radar cases, high-profile sightings (e.g., the Belgian wave, the O'Hare Airport sighting, famous dogfights), official investigations, FOIA releases, etc., all of which put the lie to the standard government denials.
The book includes numerous contributions from military witnesses, researchers, politicians, and scholars. Many of these are first-hand accounts of well-documented encounters, of military and government investigations. The best, in my opinion, is Drs. Wendt and Duvall's study of the the UFO taboo, where they hypothesize that the almost universal taboo is inspired and reinforced by the threefold threat implied by acceptance of UFOs' reality: 1) the potentially extreme physical threat posed by such a technology and intelligence, 2) the perceived pressure such a disclosure would have for a global democracy, 3) the delegitimizing effect such an understanding would have on modern nation states and governments, with their reliance on an anthropocentric justification of power.
Unfortunately, presenting only the 'best evidence' has the effect of ironing out the phenomena and making them see more homogeneous than they are. Another recent book, Michael Swords's Grassroots UFOs, a collection of firsthand accounts from over a thousand 'regular people', gives an idea of just how expansive this topic really is. So overall, Kean plays it safe. It makes for a solid, well-argued book, but leaves much unsaid. Best to go elsewhere for a more comprehensive treatment (e.g., Richard Dolan's books, John Keel's, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's). With that said, UFOs (***1/2) is a solid introduction, the kind of book you might recommend to an open-minded newbie to the subject, with a few worthwhile insights and more recent cases for those more familiar with the already existing literature.