Top positive review
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A landmark contribution to the field which has earned classic status
on 6 June 2010
Richard Dolan's interest in the UFO issue was, by his own admission, originally stimulated by reading UK researcher Timothy Good's groundbreaking best-seller "Above Top Secret." With almost no initial knowledge of the subject Dolan, a trained historian, committed to a project to discover whether the UFOs persistently intruding into our skies might be of non-human manufacture and if this was known and deliberately concealed by government and military agencies; or if under analysis some other prosaic explanation might be found for this most persistent phenomenon.
After years of painstaking research, interviews with key witnesses and extensive analysis of FOIA-released documents, Dolan discovered that the enormous "National Security" apparatus operating in the USA either under or outside the control of elected government representatives indeed has been withholding information about the issue, deceiving the people and elected government officials for decades. This is the starting point of the author's thesis, which he then develops in an interesting and thought-provoking direction.
This first volume in his evolving trilogy of how the "National Security State" in the USA has managed and controlled public access to information about the UFO issue focuses on the period 1947-1973. The facts are presented in clear detail in Dolan's engaging, literate and lively writing style. Analysis of sightings, examination of evidence for the possible recovery of ET technology (from Roswell and elsewhere) and military encounters with "unknown" objects during this period are documented in an even-handed way. The instigation of information management in the 1940s, the efforts of Major Donald Keyhoe - who Dolan considers to be "The greatest and most important UFO researcher, ever" - to force more openness, the rise of NICAP, APRO and other civilian investigative organizations, Blue Book and the Condon Committee, are all analysed and collected into an intelligent chronological narrative.
The penultimate chapter concludes with a summary of the situation in 1973: "National Security State Triumphant" which needs little elaboration. By this date, the UFO issue had been successfully sidelined and ridiculed, relegated to the status of a fad of past decades in the public mind. Continued sightings and encounters were covered up, witnesses intimidated or pilloried, and the subject pushed to the fringe by a colluding mainstream media.
With the main text just under 400 pages, the book is quite a long read. Comprehensively annotated and with a good index and summary chronology, it takes up some shelf space. The author chooses to self-publish through his Keyhole Publishing Company, so unfortunately no hardcover edition is likely to be available - a pity, as the book is such an important contribution to understanding this phenomenon that a "deluxe version" is warranted.
Dolan has been criticised in the past year by Michael Schuyler and others for being less than completely thorough in validating his source material, for giving a few uncorroborated sightings equal billing with better cases, and for occasionally quoting what turn out to be "dead references" in his books. However in the opinion of this reviewer, although these criticisms might be true in part they are nit-picking around the edges of an overall near-excellent academic study of this most important subject. Dolan is rightly regarded as one of the most credible and thorough researchers in the field, and is a first-class writer to boot.
This important milestone of a book has stood its ground to become something of an icon in the past few years. It's good, and you should read it. It belongs on any bookshelf alongside other first-rate examinations of the ET/UFO issue: Edward Ruppelt's 1956 book, Donald Keyhoe's "Aliens from Space", Tim Good's "Above Top Secret" and "Need to Know" and Jerry Clarke's huge and comprehensive 2-volume encyclopedia. Professor David Jacobs' doctoral thesis "The UFO Controversy in America" published in 1975 also examines the history of the management of the UFO issue during the same period and, being also written by a professional historian, makes an interesting book for comparison. Both are equally good, but different.
The second volume of Dolan's trilogy, published in the summer of 2009 covering the period 1973-91, is even better than his first and deepens the author's thesis towards a more radical and controversial conclusion.
A good companion volume to Dolan's books is "The Missing Times" by Terry Hansen, in which the deliberate mass media management of the UFO issue through the second half of the 20th century by the intelligence agencies is analysed in great detail and which in essence supports Dolan's main thesis.
Five stars, Richard.