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Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth Paperback – February 8, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This allegedly true tale of government secrecy reads like the entire story arc of the X-Files. Covering topics like alien invasion, UFOs, paranoia, cover-ups and smear campaigns, this book has all the elements of a compelling-though not entirely believable-yarn, but the narrative never gels into such a tale. In a nutshell, Bishop's story centers around the now-deceased Paul Bennewitz, a hapless electrical physicist living near Kirtland Air Force Base outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bennewitz detected what he believed to be signs of alien contact and began to grow alarmed, even panicked, by his observations. The book contends that while Bennewitz inadvertently did get close to something top secret, various government agencies fed him lies and disinformation to keep him believing in an imminent alien invasion until he was completely discredited and utterly insane. Eventually, author and UFO researcher Bill Moore was recruited as a mole to help in the disinformation campaign against Bennewitz. While hardcore UFO aficionados will no doubt salivate over the accusations, details and techie tidbits contained herein, Bishop never conveys a real sense of Bennewitz's personality and motivations, and neither Bennewitz nor Moore emerge as fully fleshed out individuals. Instead, Bishop tells readers that Bennewitz was a "genius at figuring things out" and "his Achilles heel was his credulity." It would have been nice to understand the broken man at the center of it all, but as it is, Mulder and Scully seem more three dimensional than the players in this narrative. Photos.
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"This is both a true story and a little known but extremely important event in the social history of the fringe movements that swept America during the 1990s."
-- Paul Davids, Executive Producer for Showtime's Roswell

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (February 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743470923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743470926
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Miller on February 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, Greg Bishop's book has already been misinterpreted. It has been claimed in other reviews here and indeed elsewhere that the book alleges that the entire UFO story is one that has been made up by various US intelligence agencies. This is quite simply not true and not only does the book state this clearly but quotes the chief protaganist, Richard Doty as saying that he accepted there were real ETs, real UFOs, and that we have been visited. Please read the book carefully.

And what you will read, if you do, is a masterful treatise on exactly how the US intelligence agencies have historically used the UFO phenomena for their own advantage in order to plant false information in the minds of those they want to target. And why would they do this? To lead them away from black budget activities that they would rather people didn't look at.

It does mean though that as a result of the activities of AFOSI, some of the tennets of modern ufology are false. It is extremely unlikely for example that there ever was an underground base at Dulce and that means no firefight and no large jars of embryonic humans etc.. The book also strongly suggests that cattle mutilations and the way they were carried out are comfortably within the scope of human ability.

This isn't a novel, it's a factual account of historical events with the main character already passed on at the time of writing and given these circumstances and the background this all falls into, Greg has done a marvelous job in bringing the personalities to light. Bennewitz is portrayed as brilliant, nay a genius, and yet at the same time deeply flawed by naivete. Bill Moore comes over as much a victim as anyone else and even Richard Doty is portrayed as having some humanity.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Nick Redfern on February 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Excluded Middle editor, radio host, author and lecturer Greg Bishop has provided the field of UFO research with what is without doubt one if its major, published contributions. The subject matter of Project Beta is an unusual one; and were it not for the fact that the story is meticulously detailed, referenced and researched, the reader might be forgiven for thinking that they had stumbled upon a high-tech, X-Files-meets-Robert Ludlum-style thriller. But Project Beta tells a very real story - and one that is as harrowing as it is informative.

In essence, the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction book relates the story of physicist Paul Bennewitz, who after stumbling upon Air Force and National Security Agency secrets that he believes are connected to the activities of sinister extraterrestrials and UFOs, is bombarded by the murky world of officialdom with a mass of disinformation, faked stories and outright lies in order to both divert him from his research and lead to his mental and psychological disintegration.

While anyone and everyone with an interest in UFOs should read Greg's book, it is unlikely to please some - particularly the I-want-to-believe crowd that foam at the mouth whenever the words "underground base," "cattle mutilations," and "alien abductions" surface. As Greg shows, many of the cornerstones upon which today's ufological lore are built, had their origins in the fertile minds of military intelligence and the behind-the-scenes spook-brigade.

The UFO truth might not be "out there" after all - it may all be one big con behind which a veritable plethora of classified, military projects have been hidden.

Hopefully, Project Beta will open the floodgates that lead to questions being asked at a higher, official level about the Bennewitz affair, and those who manipulated the man to the point of collapse will be made to answer for their actions.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Terry W. Hansen on March 12, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this book but in the end found it unsatisfying. The topic - military disinformation - is interesting and worthy enough but the book fails to live up to its potential in several respects.

First, the author himself cannot always distinguish between information and disinformation about UFOs, a subject with which he seems only moderately conversant. He signals his confusion from the very start, when he cites a bogus claim by (evidently) CIA historian Gerald K. Haines. In 1997, Haines claimed that the CIA used UFO reports as cover for spy planes such as the U-2, and that the Air Force knowingly went along with this deception. Always ready to accept CIA material, the `New York Times' ingested the story - hook, line, and sinker. And thus another bogus claim became historical fact.

There are many problems with the claim. First, the CIA is never a credible source about its own history. After all, it is in business to deceive. Second, spy plane flights were too few in number to account for many UFO reports and they were carried out in areas far from public view. Third, the black U-2 and A-12 "Oxcart" flew at very high altitudes and were difficult to detect both visually and (in the case of the A-12) on radar. Fourth, UFO reports of the era bear little if any resemblance to the flight characteristics of high-altitude spy planes. But most fatally, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Robert Friend, head of the Air Force's Project Blue Book from 1958 to 1963, later said there is absolutely no truth to the CIA's claims. Not only was Haines wrong about an agreement between the CIA and Air Force but Friend said he never received a single UFO report that he thought could be attributed to a spy plane. Oops!
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