Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book 1: UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record by Leslie Kean

As part of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, I selected UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record written by Leslie Kean and published in 2011 as my first book. I am aware that it's an interesting first choice especially since UFOs are such a taboo subject (an issue that is addressed in this book), but the idea of UFOs has always fascinated (and sometimes terrified) me. I've read a number of books and articles on the subject of UFOs as well as on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and I do believe that unidentified flying objects DO exist....although we can't be sure who/what is manning the controls!

These types of book covers are always so eerie!
I think that, right off the bat, it's important to note that Leslie Kean is a well-respected investigative journalist who has been published internationally and nationally. This particular work took ten years of dogged investigation. The foreword of the book, which supports the work of Leslie Kean and the idea that the creation of a US government agency is needed to investigate UFOs further,  is written by John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001. 

The purpose of the book is to explain the origin of the stigma associated with the belief in UFOs; to provide irrefutable evidence of the existence of unidentified aerial phenomenon; and to condemn the denial of the existence of UFOs by the United States government. The book includes firsthand accounts of experiences with unidentified flying objects from reputable sources. Some of these accounts are absolutely chilling. I was especially alarmed by the transcript of the radio transmission between pilot Frederick Valentich and the flight service specialist at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne in 1978. After this transmission, during which Valentich indicated that he was being orbited by an unidentifiable object with a green light and a shiny, metallic outside, Valentich was never heard from again. Not to mention the "extraordinary incident at Rendlesham Forest," which occurred in 1980 and was witnessed by dozens of United States Air Force personnel. The accounts given by Sergeant James Penniston and Colonel Charles I. Halt are riveting. 

You might consider Kean's view on UFOs to be conservative. She insists throughout the book that acceptance of the existence of UFOs does NOT mean acceptance of the existence of extraterrestrial life. She avoids sensationalism and sticks strictly to the facts. The book is well-written but very dry at certain points. The reader is bombarded by aviation and military terminology that might be difficult for an outsider to grasp. Kean's focus on national defense and her insistence that UFOs are a possible threat to aviation safety can be tedious. 

While this book will most definitely by eye-opening for some, for me, it simply reconfirmed my beliefs about UFOs while introducing me to some ironclad arguments in defense of these beliefs. It was also interesting to learn about the handling of UFO reports by foreign governments compared to the seeming indifference of the US government. If you have an open mind and a curiosity about things unknown, I'd recommend this book. 

Personally, I would have loved to see more photographs! Although, I think that I'll have a hard time falling asleep tonight as it is!

Sharlene Edwards
Program Director

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