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I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World Hardcover – December 1, 2007


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Hardcover, December 1, 2007
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (December 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633328
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633329
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A fascinating set of shoulder patches designed for the Pentagon's Black Ops programs."
—Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report

“A glimpse of [the Pentagon’s] dark world through a revealing lens—patches—the kind worn on military uniforms.... The book offers not only clues into the nature of the secret programs, but also a glimpse of zealous male bonding among the presumed elite of the military-industrial complex. The patches often feel like fraternity pranks gone ballistic.”
—William Broad, The New York Times

“Gives readers a peek into the shadows ... Department of Defense spokesman Bob Mehal told Newsweek that it ‘would not be prudent to comment on what patches did or did not represent classified units.’ That’s OK. Some mysteries are more fun when they stay unsolved.”
—Karen Pinchin, Newsweek

"An art book that presents peculiar shoulder patches created for the weird and top secret programs funded by the Pentagon's black budget... an achievement."
—Timothy Buckwalter, The San Francisco Chonicle

"I was fascinated... [Paglen] has assembled about 40 colorful patch insignia from secret, military 'black' programs that are hardly ever discussed in public. He has plenty of regalia from the real denizens of Area 51."
—Alex Beam, The Boston Globe

"An impressive collection."
—Justin Rood, ABC News

"The iconography of the United States military. Not the mainstream military, with its bars and ribbons and medals, but the secret or 'black projects' world, which may or may not involve contacting aliens, building undetectable spy aircraft, and experimenting with explosives that could make atomic bombs look like firecrackers. Here, mysterious characters and cryptic symbols hint at intrigue much deeper than rank, company, and unit."
—UTNE Reader

"Of course, issuing patches for a covert operation sounds like a joke...but truth be told, these days everything is branded. Military symbols are frequently replete with heraldic imagery—some rooted in history, others based on contemporary popular arts that feature comic characters—but these enigmatic dark-op images, in some cases probably designed by the participants themselves, are more personal, and also more disturbing, than most."
—Steven Heller, The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Trevor Paglen is an expert on clandestine military installations. He leads expeditions to the secret bases of the American west and is the author, with AC Thompson, of Torture Taxi.

More About the Author

Trevor Paglen's work blurs boundaries to construct unfamiliar ways to see and interpret the world around us.

His interests include future warfare, state secrecy, experimental geography, anthropogeomorphology, deep-time, and cave art. He spends more time thinking about modernist painting than he would like to admit.

Trevor Paglen lives and works in New York.

Customer Reviews

The book is absolutely a good one, with interesting patches and good writing.
Hotrao
If you are at all interested in the military, insignias, secret projects, or just good conversational pieces, buy this book.
M. Carole
Paglen has done an amazing amount of homework to bring you this book, and it is a fun read.
jojodelk

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Shilobrit on January 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw this book being offered to pre-order, I signed up immediately. I had read his previous book "Terror Taxi" about the U.S. Government's clandestine rendering program for terrorists and found it to be fascinating. I also am an enthusiast and fan of a lot of the U.S. military's aerospace "black projects"-especially black aircraft develpoment. I'm also into the patch insignia that a lot of these military organzations/units use to indirectly show the project they represent or support.

I think he has done a great job of research and packaging this project- from the cool patch emblazoned on the cover to the color pictures of each
patch described in the inside. A lot of effort went into this cool book!

Very tasty reading if you enjoy that sort of thing-which I do!
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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly unique book. You know this, to start, when you see that the cover has an actual embroidered patch embedded in it. The inscription around it, which forms the title of the book, is actually a translation of a Latin inscription on one of the patches in the book, strangely worded and of course rather obscure. When you open the book, you discover that the majority of what's here is a series of patches, all from the Air Force, that personnel involved in various "black" (secret) operations have worn on duty. The author bills himself an expert in this sort of thing, and he does seem to have some expertise. It's hard to know how much, though, because of course the Air Force won't confirm much of what he writes.

This is an interesting little book for the buff interested in this sort of thing. I would expect pretty much everyone else to be momentarily interested, then bored.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By brian d foy VINE VOICE on July 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a nicely bound book with a patch embedded into the front cover. On the inside, it's mostly pictures with light commentary, so it's mostly a one-time read with little reference potential. The content is mostly speculative, and the patches aren't organized by symbology. I would have liked to see some patches from less secretive units using the same symbology for comparison.

It's a nice conversation starter, though.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Carole on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are at all interested in the military, insignias, secret projects, or just good conversational pieces, buy this book. Then take it for what it's intended. The author doesn't promise a comprehensive or even consistent summary of military patches or black ops; he's picked some of the more interesting emblems and thrown a few program tidbits in where he could. It's surface level insight into the secret world of black ops, and if we all knew about it, it wouldn't be very secret or black, would it? The photos are great, the back stories are interesting, and we enjoyed it so much I'm buying more as gifts for my the history/military buffs in my family (i.e., all the guys.)
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By datura2002 VINE VOICE on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Written by one of the co-authors of Torture Taxi (on the practice of extraordinary rendition), this strange little book might seem fun and slightly ridiculous with its tactile cover and small size, yet it is also fascinating and frightening, because it hints at the deadly serious operations and undertakings of a vast, top-secret military infrastructure - our own.

Paglen has tracked down and documented the badges/symbols that the Pentagon creates for its classified "black budget" programs. They represent a strange cornucopia of projects with peculiar names and unknown purposes. Their operatives collect and display these badges, behaving like a bizarre cross between Boy Scouts and gang members.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Trevor Paglen, <strong>I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World</strong> (Melville House Press, 2007)

As is usual, I haven't read reviews for this book before I started writing this one, but I'd be willing to make you a small bet given (a) what I know about the reviews of Trevor Paglen's other books and (b) what I know of Amazon reviewers in general: there are going to be a sizable minority of reviews of this book that are going to complain, perhaps a lot, about how many of the entries in this book, especially towards the back, have almost no information listed about them. For as is the case with <em>Blank Spots on the Map</em>, much of the material Paglen covers here is still very much classified; even in the cases where he does have more information on a subject than one would expect, it's couched in terms that denote hearsay or speculation. (On very few pages does one see the phrase "[t]his project was declassified in...".) Okay, I'm willing to concede the point that conspiracy theorists come off a lot more convincing if they actually <em>don't</em> claim to know everything, but few of them back their stuff up as much as Paglen has over the past five years. You don't see a great deal of that in this pocket-size art book, more's the pity; Paglen makes a few references to having got the information from folks who previously worked on these projects, but there's a complete absence of footnotes (where <em>Blank Spots on the Map</em> was loaded with them) here; I think of this as a kind of companion piece to <em>Blank Spots...</em>.
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