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Publisher's Summary

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 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 20 men who served on the base proudly and secretly for decades and are now aged 75-92; she also had unprecedented access to 55 additional military and intelligence personnel, scientists, pilots, and engineers linked to the secret base, 32 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 supersecret supersonic jets to pursuing the War on Terror. This is the first book based on interviews with eyewitnesses 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 fact is often more fantastic than fiction, especially when the distinction is almost impossible to make.
©2011 Annie Jacobson (P)2011 Hachette
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Zack on 05-20-11

Reality, always more interesting than fiction.

Wow. My mind was officially blow by this book. A wonderfully researched in depth insight into Area 51 and many marque' events of the Cold War era. I generally trudge through most history texts even "The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich" as admirably written as it was took attrition to get through. In contrast, I could not put this book down, so to speak. The narration is done by the author with much success, take note voice over talent agents Annie Jocobsen is a gem. Buy this book without fear of regret.

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67 of 71 people found this review helpful

By Christopher on 05-24-11

William of Ockham would be proud.

Annie Jacobsen's investigative work 'Area 51' first interested me when I caught an interview on NPR's Morning Edition. She herself has a great radio/listening voice. Sort of a Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson speaking low and a little raspy the day after attending a big game. Seeing her on The Daily Show sealed it for me: I had to see if this was available on Audible.

I expected to feel let-down by feebly-supported suppositions and accusations based on common alien and conspiracy lore. Jacobsen delivered instead a very well-investigated piece spanning some seven decades of secret US military, intelligence and corporate R&D. And this book contributes to the Area 51 conspiracy colloquy as a pillar of hard research and rationality, at least, perhaps, the best that can be done with the most recently declassified documents still decades old.

There are still some very difficult, if not dubious claims made. But they at least are claims that mesh with how the world works, and not fantastic claims of alien visitors. Annie Jacobsen attributes the least-believable, most deeply-concealed secrets to our collective fears of insecurity, legal liability, moral viability and military effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) before the wider world. The picture she paints is of too few men with too much power and not enough accountability accomplishing astonishing scientific and technological feats, often by means so shady and with consequences so damaging that hiding was deemed a better option than transparency.

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43 of 48 people found this review helpful

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