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The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry Paperback – December 15, 2006
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I am looking more for books geared to the early classic cases.
So far the finest book on UFOs is The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects by Edward J. Ruppelt. (EVERY serious UFO reader, whether believer or skeptic, should have it in his collection.) This a memoir of his years from the closing of Project Grudge to the early years of Blue Book under his leadership (1949-1953). These were the glory days of the Air Force's handling of UFO reports when a serious and objective approach was initiated by Ruppelt to find honest answers to the UFO problem. Under his leadership and organizational skills, the Air Force (or military) personel and civilians alike were encouraged to report to his unit about their sightings where an earnest effort was made to find the correct solution. And, after exhaustive research and study if Ruppelt found it was an "unkonwn", that is how he reported it. His work was unbiased. It is unfortunate he died so young at 37.
J. Allen Hynek, the author, was Chair of the Astronomy Department at Northwestern University and Consultant to the US Air Force during its 25-year long investigation into Unidentified Flying Objects. Hynek died in 1986, two years before Donald Keyhoe, having gone through a complete 180-degree conversion from outspoken scepticism about the UFO issue to acceptance of the phenomenon as real and to voicing open criticism, even on national TV, of the debunking and cover-up tactics deployed by the USAF in its public-relations management of the issue.
The author put forward some interesting and radical ideas about what the phenomenon might be, embracing but not necessarily restricted to the extraterrestrial hypothesis. The fact that Jacques Vallee writes the foreword to this book should tell any reader right off the bat that here we are dealing with a serious enquiring mind, and what follows does not disappoint.
At 234 pages the book is divided into three sections:
1. The UFO Phenomenon - which subdivides into The laughter of science, The UFO experienced, The UFO reported, and On the strangeness of UFO reports
2. The data and the problem - Nocturnal lights, Daylight sightings, Radar reports and then an explanation of Hynek's own first, second and third kind classification system
3. Where do we go from here? - The problem with Blue Book, "Science is not always what scientists do" and finally, "The case before us"
The book is scholarly, accurate, conservative and overall, excellent. Furthermore, it is well written in a literate style, completely free of typos, well annotated with interesting appendices, absorbing and occasionally (intentionally) humorous. Hynek had a great mind and was a true expert in his subject, and could write well. We're dealing with a real phenomenon, Hynek concludes, and scientists had better take it seriously and start to investigate. The fact this has not happened in the real world since Hynek's demise could be the subject of another (much larger) book - or several.
Many millions of people who have watched Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" may be unaware that it was Hynek who originally postulated the term "Close Encounters" and divided them into those of the "First, Second and Third kind", and that Hynek actually had a cameo role in Spielberg's film.
If you're interested in understanding this phenomenon, or the long history of informed public debate about it, you should read both this book and its companion "The Hynek UFO Report", analyzing cases from Blue Book. Consider also the 1975 book "The Edge of Reality", co-authored by Vallee and Hynek.
Hynek's "UFO Experience" is right up there as one of the very best works about this phenomenon ever written, along with Edward Ruppelt's seminal 1956 "Report on Unidentified Flying Objects", Jerome Clark's 2-volume Encyclopedia (get the second edition), David Jacobs' 1975 doctoral thesis "The UFO Controversy in America", some of Jacques Vallee's books, and Timothy Good's "Above Top Secret" and its follow-ups "Beyond Top Secret" and "Need to Know".
Every serious collection of UFO literature should contain all Allen Hynek's published work - especially this one, which is the best.
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This is a good book and one of the best books produced by a 20th century writer with a scientific mind.Read more