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UFOs & Ufology The
First 50 Years.
Paul Devereux & Peter Brookesmith.
Blanford 1998 ISBN 0-7137-2657-1.
As expected, the
50th anniversary of the modem UFO enigma (in 1997) spawned a considerable number
of books (few of which had any lasting merit). This late-comer to the "50th
anniversary" scene is however not the "standard" cash-in/ufological rehash. It
is much more than that. It is unique; a book which attempts to equate our
current understanding of UFOs with current scientific knowledge!
The chapter on early sightings uses some fairly novel material, covering "sightings" of "dragons" in mediaeval times, 18th-19th century reports of strange meteor-like objects and balls of light, "Mystery Airships" and "Foo Fighters". In line with the 50th anniversary theme it features a detailed treatment of the Kenneth Arnold sighting.
I did (personally) find the coverage of CEIII's a little patchy. I also feel that UFOs & Ufology should have featured more "major" sightings (if only to give the readership a better "feel" for the subject). Nonetheless it's treatment of the 1950's contactees and their claims is quite good. It is also strong and objective in many other areas of the subject; ranging from UFOs & the media, cinematic treatment of UFOs, flaps, waves orthontony, leys, windows and other special/temporal "patterns" of UFO behaviour.
The authors also have some informed and novel things to say about the various "ancient astronaut" claims (such as the so-called "space-suited" figures depicted by the Tassili rock pictures and other similar prehistoric images). However it's treatment of Crop circles is more forgiving than the facts of this subject (as presented in this book!) suggests. UFOs and Ufology documents the psycho-social hypothesis vs. ETH battle for the subject's inner conceptions, using several examples to show how various happenings within the subject have swayed ufological opinion one way, then the other....
It also features a detailed examination of the "dark side" of UFOs; particularly the various "cover-up" and conspiracy ideas and how they developed. It also critically discusses the Roswell incident. They find much to support the view that the various "observations" of bodies are spurious and that the event itself was generated by the remains of a Project Mogul balloon. It also effectively debunks the Roswell autopsy movie.
As you would expect (with Paul Devereux being it's co-author) the book's treatment of earthlights is excellent and very topical. As is it's (critical) treatment of abductions and altered states of consciousness.
It's conclusions are that the majority of UFO events are the result of earthlight manifestations, which may well prove to be far more complex in nature than mere charged pockets of ionised gas! It also favours a psychological explanation for high strangeness reports.
UFOs & Ufology is a well-written and topical work. It may prove a hard read for those committed to the ETH, as it holds little comfort for them. This book attempts to firmly ground Ufology in geophysics, psychology and sociology. It is a pleasant surprise to find a work of this nature presenting such a deep, intellectual exploration of the UFO problem.
Verdict:- Recommended (although I do feel this book is quite expensive for a work of this format).
(originally published in BUFORA BULLETIN No.8: January-February, 1998).
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