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Watch the skies! : a chronicle of the flying saucer myth /

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994
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SUMMARY

"On June 24, 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold flew from Chehalis, Washington, on his way to Yakima. As he headed toward Mt. Rainier, he witnessed nine peculiar disk- or saucer-shaped aircraft flying in a line at incredible speed. Arnold's attempts to contact the authorities resulted in front-page news stories that referred for the first time to "flying saucers."" "Watch the Skies! chronicles the arrival and invasion of the UFO myth in American popular culture. Curtis Peebles recounts in detail the record of sightings, contacts, and abductions over nearly fifty years, among them "The Classics" of 1948, the Invasion of Washington, and the famous "swamp gas" sighting that led to the Condon Report. Drawing on sources ranging from Air Force files to pulp magazines to popular movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Peebles shows how mania about UFOs took hold of society in different ways." "Peebles shows how supposed eye-witness accounts, published in the late 1940s and early 1950s pulp magazines like Amazing Stories and True, led decades later to "wild ravings" about underground bases where aliens waited to enslave humanity and about treaties between the government and aliens. On another level, Peebles shows, organizations were established to try to induce the Air Force - as the official government arm that investigated claims of UFOs - to release alleged hard evidence of an alien presence. A skeptic with an encyclopedic knowledge of UFO lore and history, Peebles critically assesses the past record and more recent claims involving cattle mutilations, abductions, Air Force test flights of UFOs, and the existence of a mach 8 superplane called Aurora." "This thoroughly researched chronicle concludes that the flying saucer myth is not really about disk-shaped spaceships and their angelic or demonic pilots. Rather, like earlier mythologies, it is an attempt to make order out of the world, an expression of our hopes and fears."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Review by Choice Review

This chronicle of the flying saucer myth is well written and provides fair balance to a very controversial topic. Peebles documents many of the "sightings" of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and describes the investigations that were conducted by many individuals, organizations, and committees since the late 1940s. Often tied to the paranoia of the times, UFOs are linked by the author to social factors in the epochs 1947, 1952, 1957, 1965-67, and 1973, when most of the sightings occurred, and he notes that such phenomena also appeared earlier--again linked to social factors of the times. There is no doubt that observations have been made that are unexplained, but absence of accepted explanations does not necessarily lead to extraterrestrial or extrascientific explanations. There are no photographs, figures, or tables. Each chapter is well footnoted, and there is a 13-page index. The book reads easily. General. W. E. Howard III; Advanced Concepts and Space, U.S. Army

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Aerospace historian Peebles ( The Moby Dick Project ) argues that all UFO reports are misinterpretations of conventional objects, atmospheric phenomena, drama, delusional experiences, or else hoaxes. His debunking chronicle of UFO phenomena--extending from pilot Kenneth Arnold's 1947 sighting of craft near Mount Rainier in Washington to the modern era--is marred by highly selective reporting, distortions and omissions. His often superficial coverage of close encounters, abduction cases, reports of crashed UFOs and other sightings, while it may comfort ironclad skeptics, should be weighed against careful investigative works such as Timothy Good's Above Top Secret: The Worldwide UFO Coverup and Larry Fawcett and Barry Greenwood's Clear Intent: The Government Coverup of the UFO Experience. Peebles's overarching theory that UFOs represent an evolving ``myth'' embodying humanity's hopes, fears and search for mythological beings doesn't square with the evidence he cites. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

The phrase flying saucer didn't come along until 1947, and since then it has come to connote many things in the sky people don't understand. Peebles ( The Moby Dick Project , Smithsonian, 1991) has compiled a splendid history of this modern myth. After a brief overview of the distant past, he begins an exhaustive and convincing study of the phenomena. ``The flying saucer myth is a mirror to the events of post-war America--the paranoia of the 1950s, the social turmoil of the 1960s, the `me generation' of the 1970s, and the nihilism of the 1980s and the early 1990s. As the flying saucer myth entered popular culture, images and ideas were created that, in turn, shaped the flying saucer myth itself.'' Peebles makes his case admirably. He gives a history of practically every major UFO case since 1947, along with a discussion of the investigation and the probable correct explanation. A thoroughly excellent book; recommended for all libraries.-- Dave Summers, Holly Twp. Lib., Mich. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
AUTHOR NOTES

Veteran freelance writer & historian Curtis Peebles ("Dark Eagles," "Watch the Skies!," "The Corona Project," & "Guardians") lives on Palomar Mountain, California. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 1985 with a BA in history. A writer specializing in satellites, space flight, & military aviation, Mr. Peebles is also a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society & a frequent contributor to its journal, as well as "Space Education Magazine" & "Spaceflight Magazine."

(Bowker Author Biography)


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