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Angels and Aliens: UFO's and the Mythic Imagination Paperback – April 13, 1993

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-- In dealing with a subject as inherently out of the ordinary as ``Ufology,'' it might seem a daunting task to distinguish the more worthwhile books from the merely exploitative. In recent years some researchers have begun to focus their investigations, as Jung in the beginning suggested, on questions of psychology, culture, and myth. Thompson follows this bent. Neither disciple nor debunker, he presents a balanced and informative account of the subject. His book should be useful in satisfying YAs' curiosity, as he goes back to original reports, interviews, and historical context to tell the facts of famous UFO incidents. Against this reportorial backdrop, Thompson traces the development of the UFO ``believer'' subculture and the equally adamant opposition to it. He makes ancient myths come alive as he uses them to lend perspective and depth to various aspects of ufology; in doing so he enters what might be seen as ``new age'' territory, showing a sense of wonder and adventurousness tempered by a social concern. This book might even satisfy those who are seeking sensationalism, since UFOs are always rather strange, even when treated (as here) responsibly. Thompson does not provide any definitive answers, but for thoughtful readers, Angels and Aliens will be a treat.
- Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! A plane! A UFO! An angel! It's all of this and more, according to free-lancer Thompson (New Age magazine, etc.), whose debut book champions the view that flying saucers have soared to earth from ``mythic horizons and imaginal realms,'' and that the public's fascination with these pixilated objects is really ``a religious search to recover lost intimacy.'' As Thompson observes, most ufologists fall into two camps- -those who identify UFOs as alien spacecraft, and those who see them as psychic constructions. Thompson tries to straddle the divide--he says that UFOs may yet turn out to be technological hardware--but clearly his sympathies lie with those who consider saucers to be ``an idea at work in the world soul.'' As a result, the authorities he cites are usually psychologists or New Age-y scientists (Jung, Bateson) rather than engineers or private eyes. The argument zips along--this is great fun to read--but suffers from forced parallels (for instance, between UFOs and angels, an equation that glosses over the tawdriness of the former, the numinous nature of the latter) and awkward mythological explanations (UFOs as Proteus incarnate). Of much greater value is Thompson's exciting history of ufology, from the first modern sightings in 1947 through Whitley Strieber's bestselling confessions of the late 1980's. With stronger focus, this might have been the definitive story; instead, it is the first to trace all major strands in UFO research with intelligent, if sometimes wispy, analysis. Great for UFO buffs. Others will find the New Age stance weird, but, then again, as Thompson says, ``we're talking about UFOs after all. Nothing could be stranger....'' -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 13, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449908372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449908372
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Insightful and Useful, But Still No Cigar
Great book. Well written, intriguing insights. Anyone interested in the Paranormal/UFO world needs to read this book. My only "problem" with this book, as with others that share the "Mythos" explanation for UFO experiences, is that it doesn't address all the questions that plague UFO and paranormal events. (I doubt any one theory can.) Vallee, Thompson, Goodwin, Jung, Campbell -- all those writers who take a mythic approach in attempting to provide an answer for UFO and paranormal events ignore the "nuts and bolts" aspects of such encounters. (And many "nuts and bolts" theory fans ignore the more paranormal encounters, etc.) The mythic perspective comes almost right up against the edge of an answer, then backs off. It simply doesn't completely and "realistically" look at the UFO/Paranormal situation.
As a sort of "independent researcher in both the folklore and paranormal fields, I certainly appreciate the comparisons to mythic scenarios and present day "myth" -- UFOs. One thing that folklorists and others who study stories know is that such tales contain "oppositions," or"contradictions"...I refer to them as "dualities." Which makes the whole UFO phenomena all the more elusive, of course. Its very nature; changeable, at times contradictory, makes it difficult to study. But the fact that many (not all) UFO encounters contain mythic and legendary elements, and can be easily compared to such earlier traditions as fairy lore, for example, does not cancel out other types of UFO experience. And it is this point that Thompson do not realize. Yes, on one level the mythos is being played out, and we can learn from that. At the same time (duality) "if it quacks like a duck"....
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Format: Paperback
If you have even the slightest interest in the UFO phenomenon, read this book. It is, by far, the most lucid, engaging, insightful, and intelligently written book on the subject. The writing is astonishingly well done for a book on ufology. The information presented is accurate, detailed, and refreshingly objective in its analysis. All sources are thoroughly cited, and the index is very comprehensive. In terms of writing and penetrating honesty, Keith Thompson ranks with the likes of such ufological luminaries as Jacques Vallée, Whitley Strieber, and John Mack. If you're still clinging to the rather naive notion that UFOs are simply alien spacecraft, however, or even the idea that UFOs do not exist--then this book isn't for you. Closed minds don't fare well with a subject such as this.
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Format: Paperback
If you wish to dismiss the strange, or that which "slips through the meshes of the scientific net," then I suggest you pass on this book. If on the other hand you believe (an especially sad word in this context) that UFOs are Sky-God "space brothers," then also pass on this book. But if you like old fashioned scholarship and appreciate the craft of good writing, combined with skepticism and also imagination, then I recommend this book. Those fans of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, and probably William James (freethinkers all), will especially connect.
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Format: Paperback
This is a good synthesis of a lot of information, but it's a bit annoying at times, with a fair amount of talk about mythical figures (Proteus, Dionysus, etc.) and the 'roles' they play (allegorically) in the UFO phenomenon. Thompson presents two sides of the UFO coin - material/biological extraterrestrials vs some great "other", a phenomenon that may have coexisted with or have been a part of mankind for who knows how long (loosely stated, because it's hard to define that "other" very clearly). He clearly sides with the latter proposition (as I guess, do I, at least at the moment...), but stresses that we may never know, and that this inability to fully understand the phenomenon is an essential part of the phenomenon.
While the book doesn't exactly represent a fresh perspective - it may have been fresher at the time it came out - it is certainly still a good introduction to the complexities of the subject matter. Thompson uses a broad range of source material, including personal interviews with 'experiencers' and well-known authors in the field. He treats the subject with respect; his mind isn't closed but he maintains a healthy skepticism. His writing is crisp and not boring.
If you haven't read a whole bunch of books on this stuff, or if you would like a good introduction to/overview of the subject, particularly its multilayered, ever-shifting meanings, then this is a very good place to go. I would also like to recommend Daemonic Reality, by Patrick Harpur.
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Format: Paperback
I can't praise this book highly enough. Keith Thompson is in a class by himself among those who study the UFO enigma. He wonderfully illustrates the "high strangeness" associated with UFOs and demonstrates their connection with archetype, folklore, imagination and -- gasp! -- perhaps reality. Read this book and change your world.
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Format: Paperback
This is a useful book, although Thompson does lose me a bit with the UFO-Proteus connection, which was worth a mention but not the kind of extensive treatment given here.

Barring the proverbial landing on the White House lawn, we'll never get THE ANSWER to the UFO question. Debunkers will always have a way to explain away sightings; Believers will forever be looking for the definitive evidence, which I doubt is forthcoming. I think Thompson is dead right in trying to help us understand the UFO phenomenon as part of the human condition, if you will. I've been reading extensively about the Roswell incident--and I find that having read Thompson's book, I read the Roswell information in a different light. As always, we're not getting to the bottom of Roswell anymore than we'll ultimately have an answer to the JFK assassination that will satisfy everyone. No one wants to face the reality that human perception, memory, and the telling of narratives is always shaped by psychological, sociological and spiritual matters. I believe that most people who have witnessed UFOs are certainly not lying. We have to look at why we see, remember, and relate the things we do. We're not cameras and we're not tape recorders and thank God for that.
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