Booklist July 1, 2010
Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare and UFOs. Pilkington, Mark (Author)
Sep 2010. Skyhorse, hardcover, $22.95. (9781602398009). 001.942.
British journalist Pilkington knows how to spin a yarn, and this book should appeal to fans of Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats or the more fantastical books of Whitley Strieber and Charles Berlitz. Wisely choosing not to spend much time on the big question— Do flying saucers, visitors from space, and alien conspiracies really exist?—Pilkington main focus is on something many alien-themed books ignore: the evolution of modern UFO mythology. And it’s a fascinating story, beginning with a rash of late-1800s sightings of cigar-shaped dirigibles and gathering steam (and menace) with the “foo fighters” of the 1940s, Kenneth Arnold’s famous 1947 sighting of multiple objects in the sky and the infamous (if perhaps entirely mythical) UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico. Pilkington also explores the impact of fiction on the UFO craze: noting how elements from a now-obscure novel and a very popular science fiction magazine became key cornerstones in UFO mythology. He also shows—with plenty of documentation—how the American government fanned the flames of UFO paranoia, using stories about flying saucers and alien visitors to deflect attention from, among other things, top-secret research into psychological warfare. Written in a lively, “Can you believe this stuff actually happened?” style, the book is an absolute must-read for believers and skeptics alike.
— David Pitt
[Booklist is the official publication of the American Library Association – can a tour of US libraries be far off?! I’d love to do it.]