is journalist Phil Patton's chronicle of his road trip into the low deserts and dry lakes of southern Nevada in search of the truth (which, presumably, is Out There). It's a cultural history of the cold war, a psychoanalysis of the military, and an unswerving look at our fascination for UFOs. What happened at Roswell in the 1940s? What is the Air Force doing out at Area 51? Whether you join the "youfers," and decide that genuine aliens are here, doing their inexplicable thing, or the "Interceptors," who desperately seek sightings of stealth planes, or "black aircraft," you'll need to camp at the perimeters of the vast desert wildernesses set aside for secrecy to do your research. Patton explores the edges (and sometimes the insides) of these strange, lonely places in the same way he examines the psyches and motives of the people who inhabit them--with bemused semiobjectivity. Patton seems to be saying that human weirdness is roomy enough to encompass everything, from UFOs to top-secret military planes to global atomic destruction. He writes of Dreamland: "I came to believe that its legend and lore, its language and paradoxes, provided a strange and yet appropriate time capsule of a half century of cold war and black secrecy. Here, the cultures of nuclear power and airpower merged with the folklores of extraterrestrials and earthly conspiracies; their interference patterns formed a moiré of the weird. It was a place from which to see our own planet with the eyes of an outsider." --Therese Littleton
From Publishers Weekly
"Dreamland," "Area 51" and "Groom Lake" refer to a military base in Nevada about which the government has maintained a stony silence. Built in the early 1950s, this testing site marked the first flights of U2, SR-71 Blackbird and F-111 Stealth aircraft, and is the subject of wide speculation among ufologists. Patton's (Made in the USA; Voyager) detailed work follows last year's Area 51 by David Darlington. With a mixture of solid research and first-person ruminations, Patton explores a loosely knit community of tech-obsessed sky watchers dubbed "the Interceptors," who are dedicated to unlocking the secrets of Area 51. As opposed to Darlington's earnest but unsophisticated work, Patton makes sure there's enough erudition to make the subject safe for readers of Esquire, where he is a contributing editor. (He compares, for example, military artifacts left in the desert to "an Anthony Caro sculpture.") As he seeks out the often trailer park-based Interceptors (and sub-groups such as the "Stealthers," and "Youfers"), his invocations of Freud, Jung and even "the dreamings of the aboriginal people of Australia" turn the Interceptors' passion into a pat vision of millennial malaise. On the other hand, Patton often succeeds in illuminating military aviation and issues of secrecy, though he cannot offer any substantial revelations on what is or isn't at the base, be it planes that fly at Mach 15 or hidden spacecraft wreckage. Security remains uncompromised. Sixteen pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.