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I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World Hardcover – December 1, 2007
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"A fascinating set of shoulder patches designed for the Pentagon's Black Ops programs."
—Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
“A glimpse of [the Pentagon’s] dark world through a revealing lens—patches—the kind worn on military uniforms.... The book offers not only clues into the nature of the secret programs, but also a glimpse of zealous male bonding among the presumed elite of the military-industrial complex. The patches often feel like fraternity pranks gone ballistic.”
—William Broad, The New York Times
“Gives readers a peek into the shadows ... Department of Defense spokesman Bob Mehal told Newsweek that it ‘would not be prudent to comment on what patches did or did not represent classified units.’ That’s OK. Some mysteries are more fun when they stay unsolved.”
—Karen Pinchin, Newsweek
"An art book that presents peculiar shoulder patches created for the weird and top secret programs funded by the Pentagon's black budget... an achievement."
—Timothy Buckwalter, The San Francisco Chonicle
"I was fascinated... [Paglen] has assembled about 40 colorful patch insignia from secret, military 'black' programs that are hardly ever discussed in public. He has plenty of regalia from the real denizens of Area 51."
—Alex Beam, The Boston Globe
"An impressive collection."
—Justin Rood, ABC News
"The iconography of the United States military. Not the mainstream military, with its bars and ribbons and medals, but the secret or 'black projects' world, which may or may not involve contacting aliens, building undetectable spy aircraft, and experimenting with explosives that could make atomic bombs look like firecrackers. Here, mysterious characters and cryptic symbols hint at intrigue much deeper than rank, company, and unit."
"Of course, issuing patches for a covert operation sounds like a joke...but truth be told, these days everything is branded. Military symbols are frequently replete with heraldic imagery—some rooted in history, others based on contemporary popular arts that feature comic characters—but these enigmatic dark-op images, in some cases probably designed by the participants themselves, are more personal, and also more disturbing, than most."
—Steven Heller, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Trevor Paglen is an expert on clandestine military installations. He leads expeditions to the secret bases of the American west and is the author, with AC Thompson, of Torture Taxi.
Top Customer Reviews
I think he has done a great job of research and packaging this project- from the cool patch emblazoned on the cover to the color pictures of each
patch described in the inside. A lot of effort went into this cool book!
Very tasty reading if you enjoy that sort of thing-which I do!
This is an interesting little book for the buff interested in this sort of thing. I would expect pretty much everyone else to be momentarily interested, then bored.
It's a nice conversation starter, though.
And so with these patches. They could be complete fabrications, and they could be directly off military uniforms, nobody can say one way or the other. Paglen does present the case for the patches' authenticity very well and includes a brief history of military patches (too brief for my tastes, but appropriate to this work).
And then there are the 60+ patches. Generally, Paglen does a good job describing the patches and his assessment of the significance of the symbolism. Some folks feel that any military symbolism is sinister, and that symbolism for secret military things is infinitely more sinister and disturbing. I found this collection of patches to be very diverse, with some humorous, some baffling, and one or two that I found fairly sinister (this from a Clive Barker fan...) The skunk with the WW I leather flyers cap was funny, even though it was alleged to be from a program more classified than the F-117. The smiley face with sunglasses and a zipper for a mouth was also worth a chuckle. Under the 'sinister' category, two stood out. One designated 'Minotaur', with a bull's skull with green eyes and wings was a little unsettling, and moreso for the absense of any text. The other was just two red eyes againd a black background with the caption "USAF Special Projects". That could be anything.
I didn't always agree with Paglen's interpretation of the iconics, and sometimes he didn't address what seem to be fairly obvious symbols. On one patch, the unit nickname was "Goat Suckers" and he launched into a discussion of a family of birds that included of that name, without considering the Chupacabra (goatsucker) of Puerto Rico that is described as looking like a creature from outer space. On another, the central figure was bracketed by Roman numerals "IX" and "XI", what seems like a reference to 9/11, but Paglen chose not to comment on this. Also the Space Warfare Center's Special Projects Division patch had some obvious symbols like the USAF Space Operations logo, but it also had the old "Flying Tigers" logo from the CBI theater of WWII, a suggestive icon and confusing in the context of space operations.
This book is great fun and will have conspiracy theorists in tailspins for years. I hope another volume is in the pipeline!
E.M. Van Court
It was my first taste of the weird death culture the military has and how they are not ashamed of displaying it publicly.
I heard an interview with this author and the few patches on the cover, along with the odd title made me buy the book.
It's nice and I don't regret buying it, but in my opinion, it's very limited in scope, mostly focusing on Area 51 and electronic warfare patches. There are so many other bizarre patches he could have included but didn't.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are a conspiracy nut, military historian, believe in aliens, collect military artifacts, are into aviation, or any of the above, this may be...Read more