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246 of 261 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could Leslie Kean's outstanding book be a game-changer?, August 15, 2010
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This review is from: UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record (Hardcover)
Leslie Kean is an independent investigative journalist known for pioneering human rights work in Burma. As Director of the Coalition for Freedom of Information, between 2005 and 2009 she fought and won a FOIA federal lawsuit against NASA to release "lost" records on the 1965 Kecksburg PA incident. She is patient, persistent, tenacious and skeptical. Her new book, ten years in the making and two years in the writing, has received open endorsement from so many leading politicians and scientists that it just might be a game-changer.

The intended audience is not the committed reader steeped in the lore of UFOs or discussions of the ETH and competing origin-hypotheses. Plenty of books explore these subjects and their readership is, against the mainstream, pitifully small and marginalised. Such works, however well-researched, are often self-published or condemned to share shelf-space with political CTs, channelling and new-age mush, undeservedly consigned to the ghetto of the kooky, ridiculed fringe.

Readers familiar with the works of Allen Hynek, Jacques Vallee, Tim Good, Jerry Clark, Stan Friedman, Richard Dolan and writers of similar calibre will find little new here, though they will find a few interesting nuggets. They are already persuaded of the evidence, and not the target audience for this book. These writers, collectively, have never effected political attitude-change: the contributors to this book are such serious, credible, high-profile people they just might.

Kean's target audience is professional academia, those involved in politics and the media, the skeptically-minded scientist with little familiarity with the subject matter due to its long contamination with fringe elements, and the concerned, civic-minded man or woman in the street who has never read a book on the issue and knows little of the powerful evidence for the existence of persistent strange aerial phenomena. The book is carefully crafted to bring the subject out of the UFO conference fringe and place it firmly centre-stage into the political and academic mainstream where it belongs; to make it a respectable and important subject for discussion. The argument is: These are responsible officials going on the record, and here is serious evidence of something real. You are irresponsible if you ignore this subject, or allow it to continue to be marginalised.

To this end, the book's tone is deliberately sceptical. The tag-line "Generals, Pilots and Government Officials go on the Record" describes exactly the content: only incontestable cases with multiple official witnesses plus supporting evidence have been chosen for inclusion. The author worked for years to contact and gain the confidence of these military pilots and high-profile government officials and to bring them together at the National Press Club in DC in November 2007. High priority is given to cases involving air force encounters; documented, confirmed, official. The contributors are truly international, confirming the global reach of the phenomenon.

This cautious tone, the international perspective and the author's avoidance of contamination by book jacket-cover endorsement from anyone associated with the "UFO community" sets this book apart from other work on the subject. This will be extremely difficult for a debunker to deal with, and that is the intention. Journalistic standards are high, so there are no "anonymous whistleblowers", no ID kept secret, nothing flaky or un-checkable. These establishment people have gone ON THE RECORD, and write in total around half the content of the 302 pages of the book. Introducing the section written by Nick Pope, Kean writes: "He is yet another example of the many officials and military officers who, as they became acquainted with UFO investigations by accident, flexed their skeptical muscles only to find themselves absorbed by the unexpected power of the evidence they had initially expected to disprove." The accumulated evidence presented is virtually un-debunkable.

Kean contrasts the relatively open way the UFO subject has been managed in recent decades by nations such as France, Belgium, the UK, Brazil, Peru and others, with the history of stonewalling and ridicule from all government and military bodies in the USA. Since the closing of Blue Book, the phenomenon no longer officially exists in the USA even though pilots, operators of military facilities and ordinary folk encounter it all the time. It's an Orwellian environment. What is to be done?

In the third and final section of the book, the author explores the nature of UFO secrecy in the US. She sticks to the facts as known and documented, and acknowledges the unsupported speculations frequently put out by various people in the UFO field about the cover-up inhibit understanding of the issue and serve to marginalise the subject. Her reasoning is logical, thorough and grounded.

In Chapter 26, "Engaging the US Government," Kean lays out the reasoned objective sought by the CFI:

"The coalition is asking for responsible action on the part of the United States concerning UFOs. We make this request not as an accusation of wrongdoing in the past, but as an invitation to join an international, cooperative venture under way now...we are seeking the creation of a small government agency to investigate UFO incidents, and to act as a focal point for action at home and for research worldwide."

Her objective is to bring about legitimization of the subject, so that scientific interest might be encouraged and government grants enable scientists in the academic, research and aviation fields to pursue serious study free of ridicule. She is not impotently shouting for "Disclosure" whilst remaining forever shut outside. She, and the impressive contributors to this book, ask for official recognition of the UFO issue as real, and for the establishment of a small agency to co-ordinate international study as a first step. No assumptions about the origin of the phenomenon are made: just that it exists, and needs to be acknowledged as real. It's a reasoned, achievable objective, unarguable in the face of the unassailable evidence presented here. That's why this book might be the catalyst for permanent recognition of legitimacy: in other words, a game-changer.

The production quality of the book is first class and the writing from all contributors literate, straightforward and completely free of typos. It has a logical structure, is an easy and absorbing read containing nothing extraneous, concerned with the facts and testimonies. It builds a compelling argument. If you haven't read it yet, maybe you should.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 124 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 16, 2010 5:41:02 PM PDT
This seems to me a solid, if somewhat prolix, review of a pretty solid book. Nothing offensive about it.
But it, like all the other positive reviews on this page, instantly got a number of Not Helpful comments.
Now obviously, not everybody is going to support this book or enjoy a review that sees value in it. But I can't recall ever seeing a reaction quite like this before.
Is there someting I'm missing about this book (and those who acknowledge what it is ostensibly trying to do) that's raised people's hackles? I'm genunely puzzled and don't mind looking ignorant if anyone cares to enlighten me.

Posted on Aug 16, 2010 5:41:23 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 16, 2010 5:41:33 PM PDT]

Posted on Aug 16, 2010 7:36:47 PM PDT
The Guardian says:
Yes, interesting development. Even if you don't read Kean's book, or are uneasy about such unassailable evidence for the phenomenon confronting members of Congress (because reportedly many of them are reading it, the first time ever they have read a book on the subject) you can't possibly find any considered, thoughtful and essentially accurate review "unhelpful." Unless, of course, you're uneasy with the whole idea and wish the subject to remain ridiculed and out on the lunatic fringe. THEN the book itself might be "unhelpful" to your objectives, expressed through a negative vote for a review.

Some people "neg" good, helpful reviews of politically-themed books on amazon if they don't agree with an author's perspective, regardless of the merit of the actual review. This is what's behind the campaign to ban the "unhelpful" vote on amazon, or alternately to oblige an "unhelpful" voter to explain their reasons for finding a review "unhelpful" as is the case on ebay.

But it does look like there's some kind of campaign against Leslie's book. The content is political dynamite, for sure, because of the calibre of person who is endorsing and reading it.

Interesting, yes?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2010 5:52:22 AM PDT
"But it does look like there's some kind of campaign against Leslie's book."

No doubt it 'looks' that way to you. But it's probably just people holding a view different from yours, which doesn't a priori make them mentally ill or stupid or acting "dishonestly" (Kean's word -- p. 291).

What do you think the author intended on page 290 when she wrote that "scientists. . .should no longer be allowed the luxury of denial." Who does the "allowing"?
And what's the penalty for declining to go along with the author's point of view?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2010 9:02:00 AM PDT
The Guardian says:
You're being provocative, right? Of course there is no "penalty". Everyone is entitled to a differing view. The Exopolitics crowd don't agree with Leslie's cautious, reasoned approach either. They think that campaigning for "disclosure" with a million faxes on Washington etc. is going to get somewhere. After 10 years, the results are pretty much zero.

The discussion here started off not about whether you agree with the author's methods and objectives, but whether an online review of an amazon item might be helpful to a prospective buyer/reader by summarising the book's content. You can understand something like "I hated this book and didn't get beyond page 10" being unhelpful to a buyer, but that's not the nature of the reviews here being dinged as "unhelpful."

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2010 9:43:14 PM PDT
Point taken. My much more detailed critique of the book's claims is in preparation. I'll share a link here when it's online.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2010 12:30:17 AM PDT
The Guardian says:
I'm curious why anyone would want to attempt that. You going to attack John Podesta, Michio Kaku, Don Donderi, Chris Green, a bus-load of political, military and scientific heavyweights who support what the CFI is doing, support Leslie's book 100% and have publicly said so? Why?

You may end up looking foolish, and will either be ignored or get some serious people coming back at you. Either way, you're unlikely to affect sales.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2010 5:01:01 AM PDT
Archer, when you so glibly slip into the quasi-paranoid style of saying that merely disagreeing with somebody's voiced opinion or interpretation is an 'attack' on them, you make it clear that no doubts or objections will be tolerated or answered rationally. Is that your intent? It seems it's the standard UFOric response to criticism. Likewise, Kean's book seems to treat any difference of opinion from hers as evidence of subconscious fears, mental illness, or even dishonesty. Do you?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2010 5:50:48 AM PDT
Wow.
So on one hand we have those suggesting there is some sort of conspiracy against the book and it's author.
And on the other hand we have those who seem primarily displeased with the author's attitude, and perhaps some details of her research.

Now I'm just a guy who thought he'd check out a new book on UFOs, but both these sides seem to be coming out of the same camp.
It looks to me that the author was trying to `mainstream' the UFO issue-create a book that even skeptics would have to take seriously.
Would either group argue that this was a worthy goal? Isn't what the book tries to do worth doing?

On one hand, a conspiracy using the power of "Not Helpful" comments seems, well, less than formidable, really.
And on the other, perhaps the author didn't do the job as well as she might have. I haven't read very many books about UFOs, but I can tell you that I've read a few that are far worse than this one.

I still don't quite get the controversy here. It's like both sides come out of the same sub-culture and feel a certain `ownership' of the issues discussed in the book.
Reminds me a little of a small label rock band that gets a hit-half the band's followers cheer wildly and proclaim the band the Re-birth of True Rock, while the other half jeers that the band has sold out and isn't producing music half as good as the other, still unknown, bands on the same label.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2010 10:45:17 AM PDT
Brother Hocking:

This is a perceptive and helpful comment, please hang around and stay involved in the follow-up discussion.

I have some substantial criticisms of the book's thesis and approach to evidence, and I do not agree with its conclusions, but rather than dropping whiny bomblets I intend to publish a longer review elsewhere explaining and defending the assessment I make. Please be patient.
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