Phenomena

  • by Annie Jacobsen
  • Narrated by Annie Jacobsen
  • 17 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The definitive history of the military's decades-long investigation into mental powers and phenomena, from the author of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Pentagon's Brain and international best seller Area 51.
This is a book about a team of scientists and psychics with top secret clearances.
For more than 40 years, the US government has researched extrasensory perception, using it in attempts to locate hostages, fugitives, secret bases, and downed fighter jets, to divine other nations' secrets, and even to predict future threats to national security. The intelligence agencies and military services involved include CIA, DIA, NSA, DEA, the navy, air force, and army - and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Now, for the first time, New York Times best-selling author Annie Jacobsen tells the story of these radical, controversial programs using never before seen declassified documents as well as exclusive interviews with, and unprecedented access to, more than 50 of the individuals involved. Speaking on the record, many for the first time, are former CIA and Defense Department scientists, analysts, and program managers as well as the government psychics themselves.
Who did the US government hire for these top secret programs, and how do they explain their military and intelligence work? How do scientists approach such enigmatic subject matter? What interested the government in these supposed powers, and does the research continue? Phenomena is a riveting investigation into how far governments will go in the name of national security.

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What the Critics Say

"As comprehensive as it is critical, this latest expose from Jacobsen is perhaps her most important work to date...Jacobsen persuasively shows that it in fact happened and aptly frames the dilemma.... Rife with hypocrisy, lies, and deceit, Jacobsen's story explores a conveniently overlooked bit of history." (Publishers Weekly)
"With Phenomena, Annie Jacobsen has once again produced an utterly absorbing and brilliantly reported chronicle that truly breaks new ground. This is a boundary-breaking story of mental phenomena - extra sensory perception techniques - that is truly a pleasure to read. A mind-bending triumph!" (Alex Kershaw, best-selling author of The Liberator and Avenue of Spies)
"Chilling, compelling, and comprehensive accounting...Jacobsen's impressive book plumbs the dark depths of this postwar recruiting and shows the historical truths behind the space race and postwar US dominance. Highly recommended for readers in World War II history, espionage, government cover-ups, or the Cold War." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very Dissapointed - favorite author messes up

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This book is scattershot and unscientific. Jacobsen seems to have run out of ideas and she's really taken a very uncritical look at pseudoscience, clearly swayed by the pseudo-scientists more than the scientists.


Would you ever listen to anything by Annie Jacobsen again?

Yes, of course. She usually does solid work, but this book was a miss for me.


Which scene was your favorite?

Scene? There aren't really scenes in a non-fiction book. I guess I like the factual and historical information, but I'm really not a fan of Uri Geller and his frauds.


Could you see Phenomena being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No. I really couldn't. There are way too many characters, and the plot jumps around.


Any additional comments?

Usually Annie Jacobsen is a historical journalist, this time it seems like she ran out of ideas...

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- Jeremy

Strong beginning and ending but sags in the middle

This was an interesting book and well researched but the anecdotal stories in the middle tend to drag on and become almost unbearably maudlin in parts. The strength of the book is in the beginning and end parts where the author talks about the post-war programs that were initiated by the government looking into these areas and the cold war aspects of the programs. It is fascinating how much money has been poured into these programs over the past few decades. The book really drags in the middle and there is far too much time spent on Uri Geller. Nothing really new is revealed but it takes up a significant chunk of the book and it appears that the author has become something of a fangirl of Uri. This story has been told over and over and the book would have benefited from a stronger editor.

The narration of this book was painful. The publisher really should have gotten someone other than the author to narrate. Dull monotone voice that required me to speed up the narration just to get through it. I might have enjoyed this more if they had a more dynamic narrator.
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- RK

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-28-2017
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio