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5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Budd Hopkins - a Revelation, 26 Nov 2009
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The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: ART, LIFE and UFOs (Paperback)
The title 'Art, Life and UFOs' sums up the interweaving themes in this autobiography of what by any standards has been a unique and extraordinary life. The life experiences Budd Hopkins relates here in his warm, humorous and literate style makes for an absorbing and enjoyable read both for those who know his work and those less familiar with it.

Outside the art world, Budd is best known for his books focusing on research into the mind-stretching and paradigm-challenging area of alien abduction. Starting with 'Missing Time' in 1981, through 'Intruders,' 'Witnessed' and finally the co-written 'Sight Unseen' in 2003, he has set the standard of how to approach this superficially outlandish subject matter with meticulous analysis and scientific rigor, by focusing on multiple cases displaying near-identical features and characteristics (including similar physical traces)to build a conservative hypothesis of the phenomenon which lights the way for all serious international investigation into the subject. Even if you have never read Hopkins' books (and you should) then see the movie version of 'Intruders' starring Richard Crenna and Steven Berkoff et al. It's extraordinary.

However, Hopkins has had other, parallel, lives. Art is his first passion, and the discovery of the wonderful world of colour and artistic expression as a young man at university in the 1950s started a lifetime love affair which propelled him forever away from his provincial, conservative middle-America upbringing in Wheeling, WV. The discovery of art as vocation is beautifully told, such that the reader who has not so far shared a passion for the French impressionists might be motivated to look at the works of Monet, Van Gogh and the rest to see what they have missed. His vivid prose brings art alive.

Budd's accounts of his adventures as a young abstract-expressionist artist in NYC in the 1950s and 1960s will make you laugh out loud, and enjoy every line of alternately humorous and poignant observation of people he knew and mixed with: Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Brendan Behan, Aldous Huxley and the rest. Few who know Budd only through the field of UFO investigation will know much of his rather bohemian and 'alternative' lifestyle through those years, or the well-known and respected NYC artists he mixed with and learned from.

A complex relationship with his father, a high-ranking WW2 army veteran and successful car dealer in civilian life, is delicately and poignantly explored and recurs as a theme in the book. The point where Budd finally realised his political and social attitudes and alignments differed radically from the somewhat repressed and traditional values of his father will resonate with many readers who have had similar splits with parents over political principles. Budd's marriages and relationships are also described with candour, including his long second marriage to April Kingsley and the birth and upbringing of Budd's only child, Grace.

Budd's investigation of the abduction phenomenon and subsequent writings on the subject brought him new and unlooked-for exposure in the international media and into close contact with people such as Shirley MacLaine, Carl Sagan, Allen Hynek, John Mack and Laurance Rockerfeller, all revealingly and poignantly cameod in the later chapters. These accounts alone are worth the price of the book. A temptation to 'settle scores' with detractors and debunkers has wisely been avoided, though the revealing personal experiences of MacLaine and Whitley Strieber in particular are not all complimentary!

Overall 'Art, Life and UFOs' is thoroughly enjoyable and I would strongly recommend the book even to those with no knowledge of Budd Hopkins' extraordinary contributions to such varied fields of human endeavour as Ab-Ex art and alien abductions. Above all, Budd comes across as a great humanitarian: compassionate, curious, intelligent, eloquent and endlessly good-humored. For those more familiar with his work, either in the art field or in the field of UFO research, you may be in for some revelations as well as a few belly laughs. Personally, I enjoyed every page and wished the book had been longer! Budd is, above all, as great a writer as he is an artist, researcher, public speaker and liberal humanitarian.

Buy it. Read it.

Budd Hopkins died on 21st August 2011 at his home in Chelsea, NYC. He was 80 years old. RIP.
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ART, LIFE and UFOs: A Memoir
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