Books plumb Roswell story Capsule reviews of mixed bag of resource material
The 50th anniversary of the alleged crash at Roswell is nigh upon us and there's a spate of books on the Roswell Incident and UFOs in general. Coincidence? We think not.
Here are capsule reviews of some books done by the top-secret three-member "Grand Unified Conspiracy and UFO Retrieval Committee of the Order of Men in Tweed."
"Beyond Roswell" (Marlowe and Co., $24.95) by Michael Hesemann and Philip Mantle.
In one of the few books that sheds any new light on the subject, the authors make a game attempt to fit all the "facts" of the Roswell crash into a new scenario. Backed by government documents and eyewitness interviews, they claim the military actually responded to three different saucer crashes in 1947, from May 31 to Aug. 13 -- one near Socorro, one near Roswell, and one near Flagstaff, Ariz. Much material will be new except to fanatics. Its weakness, like most of this genre, is that it sometimes relies on discredited accounts or materials. ()
"The UFO Invasion" (Prometheus Books, $25.95) edited by Kendrick Frazier, Barry Karr and Joe Nickell.
This could have been the book that made a convincing case for UFO debunkers, but it falls short. Based mostly on reprints of articles from the Skeptical Inquirer, it jumps all over the place, and the lack of coherence hurts as does the choice of some obscure cases. It also contains a large dose of the smugness and close-mindedness not associated with "scientific" inquiry. ()
"Alien Agenda" (HarperCollins $24) by Jim Marrs.
The Kennedy assassination expert takes on UFOs and government secrecy in a massive review of the recent history of UFOs. Marrs correctly perceives that the belief in UFOs is mainly a matter of mindsets. Marrs' journalistic credentials give him a leg up on many authors in supporting what he says. He delves into some areas the general public may not be aware of. A plus is his look at the cultural and metaphysical aspects of the phenomenon. He stumbles, however, in spending time defending lost causes like Billy Meiers. ()
"UFO" (NTC Contemporary Publishing, $22.95) by Charles E. Seller with Joe Meier.
The chapter "Roswell Revisited" is really "Roswell Re-hashed," taking bits and pieces of the various stories and wedging them into a single narrative. It sheds no new light. If you're a fan of works that explore the connection between the cosmos and ancient constructions like pyramids, Stonehenge and the plains of Nazca in Peru, however, you'll find this an enjoyable read. ()
"Making Contact" (William Morrow $22) edited by Bill Fawcett.
We must admit we have not read this one, but with the avalanche of books out on dating etiquette, we suppose this book was inevitable. The press blurb should allow you to decide whether you want to get it: ""'Making Contact'... covers the nitty-gritty of establishing a relationship with aliens, including how simple items like coins and string can be used to communicate with aliens, how to perform alien first aid and official U.S. Air Force guidelines for notifying the public." (not rated)
"The Official Alien Abductee's Handbook" (Andrews and McMeel $7.95) by Joe Tripician.
Finally a book about UFOs with a sense of humor. It's the perfect antidote to "Making Contact." Any book with a parody song called "Abductee in the U.S.A.," to the tune of the Sex Pistols' classic "Anarchy in the U.K." scores big points. (1/2)
"Top Secret/MAJIC" (Marlowe and Co. $13.95) by Stanton Friedman.
If you want to read a book about Stanton Friedman, nuclear physicist (as the UFO researcher likes to call himself), this book is for you. If you want to read a book that sheds light on the UFO phenomenon, pass. While the UFO community has largely abandoned a bundle of allegedly top-secret documents about the government's MJ-12 UFO coverup as a feeble hoax, Friedman remains unrepentant. His tales about himself and his heroism to get at the truth clog up his narrative, especially when the "truth" is the pathetic MJ-12. ()
"Roswell in Perspective," by Karl Pflock. (Fund for UFO Research, PO Box 277, Mount Rainier, Md. 20712)
"RiP," as it's known to aficionados, is not exactly a book, but it's one of the best efforts to untangle the Gordian knot of Roswell. Written in 1994 as a report by Placitas' Pflock, it's a reasonable, dispassionate sifting of evidence without the agendas that mark work of other Roswell researchers. Its conclusion: The famed debris was a military balloon experiment. And while Pflock left open the possibility that an alien ship crashed in New Mexico back in 1947, he has slammed that door shut since "RiP" was published, concluding that The Roswell Incident was a case of mistaken identity. (1/2)
"UFO Crash at Roswell" (1991) and "The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell" (1994) by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt. (Avon Books)
If the second book is "the truth," UFO wags frequently point out, what does that say about the first one? Both are important entries in the canon of Roswell literature, and no serious Roswell Incident fan should be without them. "UFO Crash" was the basis for Showtime movie "Roswell," while the second, "The Truth About ..., " contains the definitive version of the event based on Roswell witness Frank Kaufmann. Randle's latest book, "Conspiracy of Silence," arrived too late for review. (1/2)
"The Day After Roswell," (Pocket Books, $24) by Philip Corso.
Call this book "deja vu all over again." It is "Behind the Flying Saucers," the classic UFO hoax of the 1950s, tricked out in X-Files finery. Other than referring to some of the real and bogus documents long known to UFO researchers, Corso provides nothing to back up his incredible claims he used alien technology to seed U.S. industry over the years with the research breakthroughs needed to win the Cold War. ()
And due out in September for young readers is "UFO Files, Out of This World... But True?" (Disney Press, $3.95) Ages 7-10.
If you've given up on the written material, there's a listenable extended-play CD out by folk singer Suzanne McDermott titled "The Roswell Incident" (Rosema Records). McDermott is in Roswell from Monday through Sunday, July 6, for the 50th anniversary of The Roswell Incident. The CDs are for sale at her booth at the UFO trade show and at select locations around Roswell. The lyrics to the title cut are rearranged from comments by eyewitnesses to the so-called 1947 event. The other three cuts are unrelated to the subject of UFOs. If you're not in Roswell, you can call 500-449-1554 or write to Rosema Red Records, P.O. Box 1373, Cambridge, Mass. 02142-0010. ()