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Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base    by Annie Jacobsen order for
Area 51
by Annie Jacobsen
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Located approximately 75 miles north of Las Vegas and encompassing 4,687 square miles (three times the size of Rhode Island) of Nevada desert, it was dubbed Area 51. The U.S. government never admitted it existed but this vast area was the site of nuclear testing and the home of some experiments and special operations no one ever talked about.

In Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base, Annie Jacobsen sheds some light on this closely guarded secret. The author interviewed 74 individuals for this volume. All of them had firsthand knowledge of this secret base and 32 of them actually lived and worked in Area 51.

Two early projects that unfolded in the area at Groom Lake have been declassified. The development of both the U-2 spy plane and the A-12 Oxcart spy plane have been discussed in other works as well as here. But much more information is coming to light for the first time in this book.

'This is a book about black operations, government projects that are secret from Congress and secret from the people who make up the United States,' writes the author. She continues that some of these projects and operations 'have been hidden for decades, some for good reasons, others for arguably terrible ones, and one that should never have happened at all'.

As she delves into Area 51 and its history, Jacobsen, who is an investigative reporter and contributing editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, covers everything from the early days (when testing nuclear weapons was the order of the day), and rumors of alien spacecraft, to the more recent development of top secret aircraft to fight the War on Terror.

A series of black and white photos show the area's interior and special facilities, and also some of the individuals who once worked there, and special aircraft that called the area home.

With over 100 pages of notes, interview information and a lengthy bibliography, the author has taken great pains to document her findings for the reader. That explains why this book exceeds 500 pages in length.

In the final paragraph of the epilogue Jacobsen wraps up the story of Area 51 with these words: 'The veil has been lifted. The curtain has been pulled back on Area 51. But what has been revealed in this book is like a single bread crumb in a trail. There is so much more that remains unknown.'

She leaves it to others to dig deeper and reveal more of the area's secrets as more information is declassified and more material becomes available. This is a story that is just beginning and will be told over a number of years to come.

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