Annie Jacobsen is a security reporter and contributing editor to The Los Angeles Times Magazine. At a dinner party one evening, 88-year-old physicist Edward Lovick offered to tell her of his experiences while he worked at Area 51, located in southeastern Nevada. He went further by putting her in touch with others who worked at the recently declassified facility. This book is the result of Jacobsen’s research and the eye-witness accounts of numerous people involved with the secret base.
Area 51 got its start as the CIA’s facility for the A-12. Code named Oxcart, this very high altitude aircraft, later known as the U2,was designed to travel long distances while photographing targets of interest in denied areas such as Russia and China. Later, the SR-71 was developed and operated from this same location. In addition to reconnaissance aircraft, a staggering number of nuclear tests were performed at the site.
The secrecy surrounding Area 51 fostered many fables about what was done there. The most famous and perhaps most ridiculous of these was the myth that the US was hiding the remains of aliens and their spaceship there.
Jacobsen provides documented facts from declassified papers and interviews, and she finishes with her own guesses as to some of the origins of these rumors and stories surrounding Area 51. These speculations detract from the otherwise thoroughly documented facts presented in the book.
I found this book highly interesting. The concepts of how our Government performed wholesale nuclear testing, exposing people and the environment to extreme hazards, is particularly scary. It’s an informative tale that raises the question of just what is going on today under the guise of security.