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Shockingly Close to the Truth : Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist Hardcover – July 1, 2002
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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.
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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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 martiansgohome.com.
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.
Over the years Moseley kept his hand in, meeting and interviewing anyone who came onto the scene in what he sometimes calls The Field, other times (more accurately) "ufoology." He edited and published a long series of saucer fanzines and newsletters and still publishes one to this day. He met everyone and he shrewdly sized up everyone. He organized many flying saucer conventions and seems to have attended most of the others. Here's his information-packed account of about 48 years in The Field, and there is no more accurate word-picture anywhere in print in english (I've looked!) of the classic early 1950s contactees led by George Adamski, on to the 1960s abductees led by Betty Hill, on to the growth of the crashed-saucer myth from its humble beginnings with the 1949 Scully hoax, on to the full-blown Roswell hoax of 1985 - 90, and on to the "supernatural" abduction stories of the 1990s. Moseley was an eyewitness to the birth of many hoaxes, a few of which he perpetrated himself.
Highly recommended, as a true insider's look at this nearly 60 year-old and seemingly immortal myth of "things seen in the sky."
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 extraterrestrial spaceships, 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. Moseley clearly had a soft spot for the contactees, and recalls them nostagically in this book, although he was the first to admit that they were either mentally disturbed or simply scam artists looking to make a quick buck from the gullible.
However, Moseley quickly tired of his "Serious Ufologist" role, and after befriending notorious UFO "researcher" and hoaxer Gray Barker, he decided that reporting on the personal lives and infighting of his fellow ufologists was much more fun than doing the grunt work of investigating UFO cases. In 1954 he started a UFO magazine called "Saucer News", in the early 1980s it was renamed "Saucer Smear" and was the longest-running UFO magazine in the field. From the 1950's until his death in 2012, Moseley used his 'zine to poke fun at the UFO mystery, stir up controversy, and gossip about the private lives of "Serious Ufologists" and what he called "assorted saucer fiends". Together he and his friend Barker (who pretended publicly to feud with one another) successfully perpetrated several hoaxes on other Ufologists. He also exaggerated or simply made up UFO stories to increase his magazine's circulation. Moseley very quickly became an annoyance to those who took UFO's seriously - such as Donald Keyhoe, a retired Marine Corps officer and the leader of the first serious UFO civilian research group, NICAP. Moseley considered Keyhoe to be too pompous and humorless for his taste - as he did most "Serious Ufologists" (he is definitely not one).
Although Moseley claimed to take the UFO mystery seriously, it's difficult to read this book and get that impression. Instead, one gets the feeling that Moseley long ago decided that UFOs were nonsense (but fun nonsense), and therefore anyone who took UFOs seriously must be either incredibly gullible, mentally deluded or a con artist. It is worth noting that Moseley's best friend Gray Barker "pretty much took all of ufology as a joke" (Moseley's words), and after reading this book it's clear that Moseley basically agreed with Barker, despite his denials that he was a skeptic or debunker. Moseley publicly held just about every belief imaginable concerning UFOs over the years, from believing they were alien spacecraft to believing they were supernatural/paranormal in origin, to his vague "4-D" theory, which he held at the time of this memoir's publication, and which he never bothered to explain in any detail. I must confess that I was somewhat dubious about this book. As someone who had read a good deal about UFOs, and who therefore knew of Moseley's history of hoaxes, his large ego, eccentricity, and controversy - as well as his delight in digging up the gossip and "dirt" on UFO researchers and printing it in his 'zine, I wondered just how reliable his personal memoir would be. Well, I was wrong (to a point) - this book is well-written, well-focused (it follows his misadventures from the 1950s to 2002), and it is a delight to read. Moseley (with some help from coauthor Karl Pflock) writes with a breezy, almost jaunty style, and there's no doubt that he pokes some real holes in the reputations of some respected Ufologists.
However, Moseley also comes across in this book as less of a "court jester" than a "class clown" - a rather spoiled and obnoxious rich kid who genuinely enjoyed stirring up controversy for its own sake, who loved being the center of attention and was willing to say or do (or write) just about anything to get it , and who took a real delight out of annoying or irritating other people - and not always for good reasons. It all makes for an entertaining book, but it's also easy to see why he had so many enemies and critics in the field of Ufology - and to see why this book should be taken with a large grain of salt, despite Moseley's delightfully skewed take on the UFO phenomenon. Recommended, but please don't make this the only UFO book you ever read!
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