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Shockingly Close to the Truth : Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist Hardcover – July 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-With coauthor Pflock, Moseley draws on his extensive archives to chronicle-in a style that Mad magazine fans will appreciate-decades of infighting and controversy among "saucer fiends." In 1950, he came into an inheritance that freed him to do whatever he wanted with his life. Flying-saucer reports had caught the 19-year-old's fancy and soon he was researching a book, traveling the country to interview eyewitnesses, and later editing a major UFO fanzine (now called Saucer Smear). He expresses a sincere commitment to pursue "the truth" (or at least the facts) about UFOs. However, his main focus (apart from an occasional detour to Peru in search of pre-Columbian treasure) is that unlikely mix of scientists and hoaxers who collectively created modern ufology. As Moseley warns, "this is not a scholarly book." Indeed, some major players, including Valle and Strieber, are dismissed with very few words; the index only lists proper names; and "Sources of Further Enlightenment," in true Moseley style, includes the very sources he has just debunked. The book's real contribution is to challenge readers "to think in new ways and to question their unproven assumptions." Now that aliens have entered mainstream Western culture (according to one poll, one-third of all adult Americans believe the basic Roswell thesis), this tell-all history, idiosyncratic though it may be, is an essential addition to any UFO bookshelf.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Moseley, a keen observer of the UFO scene for nearly 50 years, has also been its problem child, stirring up controversy with his newsletter and engaging in deliberate pranks. This autobiography chronicles his adventures with serious researchers as well as the many "saucer fiends," as he calls them, that inhabit the wackier regions of "ufology." Finding UFO people much more fascinating than UFOs, Moseley and coauthor Pflock take the reader on an entertaining romp through the history of saucerdom, from dubious contactees like Andy "The Mystic Barber" Sinatra to such leading lights as Donald Keyhoe and Budd Hopkins, much of it unflattering. To their credit, they pull no punches with Moseley's own behavior, freely admitting to hoaxing a UFO landing site in 1954, cooking up a fake UFO film to accompany his lectures, using phony credentials to crash a press conference with former president Harry Truman, and helping partner-in-saucer-pranks Gray Barker forge some UFO letters on pilfered State Department stationery. Is it all true? Perhaps it's shockingly close to the truth. George Eberhart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Edition edition (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573929913
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573929912
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,639,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on October 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book doesn't demand to be taken seriously, so it can be read with a sense of fun and there's no need to over-analyze. These are the slightly sarcastic and fun-loving memoirs of James Moseley, who has spent the past fifty years in the community of UFO enthusiasts, and has served in several organizations that behave more like competing fan clubs. Moseley claims he's a "skeptical believer" which is pretty levelheaded in that arena (such as it is), though at times you get the feeling that he's trying to cover up his own episodes of credulity in the past. Moseley's memoirs give us an entertaining history of the cult of UFO believers, from ultra-gullible fanatics who believe anything, to serious ufologists who tackle the issue with scientific reasoning. Most interestingly, we see how UFOs themselves have changed over the decades, with quaint metallic saucers giving way to conspiracy theories and chilling tales of alien abduction. Have the aliens really changed that much, or have we? Moseley's coverage of the infighting and ideological disputes amongst believers of various stripes shouldn't mean much to the rest of us, but I'll admit that the book is quite entertaining as it covers the evolution of weird beliefs and the people who have them. However, the book is docked one star due to Moseley's bragging about robbing ancient archeological sites in Peru, and his shifty descriptions of his own ongoing attitudes toward his field. [~doomsdayer520~]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Scott P. Bond on June 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
With Shockingly Close to the Truth, James W. Moseley, publisher of the long-running 'zine, Saucer Smear, has finally given us his long-awaited insider's look at America's flying saucer/UFO subculture. From the nineteen- fifties until the present day, Moseley and his co-author, researcher Karl T. Pflock, have met a virtual Who's Who of saucerdom. From famed contactee George Adamski to obscurities like Andy "The Mystic Barber" Sinatra, they're all here in colorful black and white, no punches pulled, no hostages taken.
In spite of his "tell it like it is" approach, Moseley, an informed skeptic, is surprisingly forthright and even-handed in this comprehensive assessment of what he calls "The Field." Even the most outrageous rascals are given a modicum of respect, and Moseley is astute enough to recognize that the most outlandish tales are also usually the most fun.
The book is fast-pace and easy to read. It covers the relatively light-hearted contactee period of the early fifties through the increasingly grim alien abduction era of the eighties and nineties. There is also a marvelous photo section that includes such early luminaries as George Adamski, Major Donald Keyhoe, Howard and Connie Menger, and Moseley's friend, the "late, great" Gray Barker (of Men In Black fame).
Moseley and Pflock share a certain bemused affection for the bizarre folk they've met. For the last fifty years they've traveled a long, strange road that's been by turns mysterious, frustrating and absurd. Make no mistake about it- Jim Moseley and Karl Pflock were Out There. This book is the real thing, not just another armchair rehash. Whether you agree with their conclusions or not, it's must reading if you're a saucer fan.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Moseley (1931-2012), the self-proclaimed "Court Jester" of the UFO phenomenon, was a "semi-legendary" - and highly controversial - figure in the history of Ufology (or "Ufoology", as he prefered to call it). Born in New York City, Moseley was abandoned early in life by his father, a right-wing US Army General, and was raised by his wealthy mother. When he was 19 his mother died and left him her fortune. Moseley, now a millionaire, quickly dropped out of Princeton University and decided to use his wealth to pursue his rather eccentric hobbies, most notably UFOs and, later, robbing ancient Incan burial sites in South America of valuable artifacts.

From 1950 until his death in November 2012, Moseley managed to interview, befriend, annoy, or infuriate just about every major or minor person associated with UFOs. He attended all sorts of UFO Conventions, from the serious to the silly (he prefered the silly); in the 1950's and 60's he interviewed con artists who pretended to be "contactees" with aliens; he talked with people who had experienced some of the most famous UFO sightings and encounters (such as Kenneth Arnold and Lonnie Zamora); and he also crossed swords with those whom he sarcastically called "Serious Ufologists" (such as Jerome Clark and Richard Hall). At first Moseley was a strong believer in the theory that UFOs were alien spacecraft and he was a "Serious Ufologist" for a few years. He even did the main expose of George Adamski, a con artist and the most famous (or infamous) of the 1950's "contactees" who claimed to be in contact with friendly, humanoid "Space Brothers" who wanted to save the Earth from nuclear war.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Pilsner on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an entertaining human history of the American saucer movement, with its ups, downs, and occasional hoaxes and charlatans, through the eyes of senior author James Moseley, who saw it all. Moseley stayed 60+ years in the saucer movement not just because it was one of the great mysteries of the day, but because it was fun. And what made it fun to Moseley were the people.

As in every human endeavor, UFO studies are affected by the personalities involved. Egos clash, people use their charm for both good and ill, ambitions compete for money, fame, or power. Power? The minor powers fought for are the exalted positions within saucer organizations, which brings to mind the saying about faculty politics attributed to Henry Kissinger: "The infighting is so bitter because the stakes are so small."

There is no one better to write about saucer-obsessed people than James Moseley, long-time editor of Saucer Smear and its equally irreverent predecessor publications going back to the early 1950s. He has been kicked out of saucer organizations, has exposed saucer hoaxes, and has perpetrated a few saucer hoaxes himself, as he cheerfully admits. For a taste of Moseley's sense of humor, visit his Saucer Smear website at

Even as he tries to present this story as accurate, Moseley cannot resist slipping in a few obvious falsehoods. He describes his correspondence with "Carlos Mentira" and "Harry Lime of Vienna, Austria." Mentira is Spanish for "lie," as Moseley well knows, having lived in Peru, and Harry Lime is the con-man character from the classic 1949 movie The Third Man, which was set in Vienna.
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