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Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs Hardcover – September 13, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* British journalist Pilkington knows how to spin a yarn, and this book should appeal to fans of Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats or the more fantastical books of Whitley Strieber and Charles Berlitz. Wisely choosing not to spend much time on the big question— Do flying saucers, visitors from space, and alien conspiracies really exist?—Pilkington’s main focus is on something many alien-themed books ignore: the evolution of modern UFO mythology. And it’s a fascinating story, beginning with a rash of late-1800s sightings of cigar-shaped dirigibles and gathering steam (and menace) with the “foo fighters” of the 1940s, Kenneth Arnold’s famous 1947 sighting of multiple objects in the sky, and the infamous (if perhaps entirely mythical) UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico. Pilkington also explores the impact of fiction on the UFO craze: noting how elements from a now-obscure novel and a very popular science-fiction magazine became cornerstones in UFO mythology. He also shows—with plenty of documentation—how the American government fanned the flames of UFO paranoia, using stories about flying saucers and alien visitors to deflect attention from, among other things, top-secret research into psychological warfare. Written in a lively, “Can you believe this stuff actually happened?” style, the book is an absolute must-read for believers and skeptics alike. --David Pitt


“Pilkington knows how to spin a yarn.... Written in a lively, 'Can you believe this stuff actually happened?' style, the book is an absolute must-read for believers and skeptics alike.” (Booklist)

“Ultimately it is persuasive, if not definitive. In Pilkington's telling, UFO stories are "weapons of mass deception," used in bureaucratic battles to discredit competing agencies or protect real secrets. This is the stuff of normal power politics.” (Washington Post)

“His impeccable investigative journalism makes other books on this subject read like fantasy fiction.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[Pilkington] makes a persuasive case that much UFO-logy canon was started or encouraged by the government trying to conceal Cold War military projects.” (U.S. News & World Report)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; First Edition edition (September 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602398003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602398009
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I thought that this book would be an entertaining read, with anecdotes about CI Ops, UFO buffs, and perhaps the craft of disinformation...my personal interest. I love the eccentricities of buffs of all kinds, and admire their willingness to go total immersion into whatever private world intrigues them. That said, I found little pleasure in this book. I have been reading all day, and I am on the verge of a migraine.

There are two themes in this book that may be of interest to the general reader: first, a history of ufology in America, with lots of inside information, and secondly, an interesting discussion of the use of disinformation by institutions such as - but not limited to - government.

This treatment of ufo lore is thorough, but unfortunately focused upon the characters rather than the events. The ever widening spiral of skeptics and believers becomes too complex to follow unless you are an insider in the ufo world. The events - sightings - could have been the focus to create some narrative timeline stability. The reader feels like an outsider at the spouses Holiday Party, unaware of the complex hierarchies and relationships at play, unappreciative of the subtle dynamics at work, and unable to judge where the center lies. There are too many players, and they wear too many masks, for those of us who have never heard of them to make informed judgements. For the insiders, that's OK, for me, it was frustrating.

By far the better aspect of the book is the treatment of disinformation. Although I dispair of making any sense of MJ-12 and related documents, the authors focus on the possible uses of disinformation in shaping a public perception of almost any issue, including ufos.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some wit once observed: "The trouble with confirmation bias is that once you know about it, you begin to see it everywhere." This is the fundamental fallacy which Mark Pilkington falls for in this widely-publicised and well-written book. Whilst `Mirage Men' is not without merit and contains a few small nuggets of interest, its governing premise - that most reported UFO encounters have been the work of the US intelligence agencies in order to either delude the research community or hide secret hi-tech aerospace projects by making witnesses mistake them for alien spacecraft - is completely untenable. No-one acquainted with the evidence at close quarters could possibly be so gullible as to fall for such nonsense.

Unfortunately UK-born Pilkington has a major credibility problem right off the bat, as he admits to being a serial (no puns please) crop-circle hoaxer; a trespasser causing criminal damage, a charlatan and a deceiver. This admission tells us something about the author's character, and should put any attentive reader on his guard about taking anything in the book seriously.

The book is written in `this-is-our-story' format whereby Pilkington and colleague John Lundberg journey round the USA meeting and interviewing a handful of individuals working for or connected to the intelligence agencies - Richard Doty from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in Albuquerque has pride of place - who variously claim to have been involved, one way or another, in perpetrating deception on the American public (who BTW pay their salaries) about the UFO/ET issue, for stated reasons which simply don't make sense.
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Format: Hardcover
Let me begin by explaining that I am skeptical of most UFO claims. I am not looking for what "I want to believe." I have been researching the UFO subject for over 30 years, some of which involves a close association with subject matter and persons in this book. And I have concluded that "Mirage Men" is a very important book to read, with a note of caution. It involves people and events that most Ufologist carefully avoid at all costs. Sure the Government Covers-Up UFOs and Alien Visitations, but "Disinformation" is what the other guy believes and I do not! No need to look further.

Mark Pilkington was willing to look. Not without considerable bias as a self confessed Crop Circle Hoaxer. Where he wants to lead the reader becomes self evident in the first few chapters in the book. And that is his privilege as the author. My contention is that one can learn a great deal from this book without confusing an important part of the picture with the whole. This is an important read for Ufologists who wish to deal with the historical and government involvement with the subject.

The first flaw in the book are factual errors. If I am aware of quite a few upon casual reading no doubt it has many more. Not entirely the authors fault, because they tend to be repeated and spread in Ufology without question as long as they fit a certain viewpoints. For example, a single altered AFOSI document that Bill Moore was encouraged to pass on to Paul Bennewitz becomes "false documents." There were a number of documents, but they did not involve the activities against Bennewitz. Later the same document is said to have been "retouched" by Moore and given to Bennewitz.
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