America,  Book Reviews,  History,  NON FICTION

Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen *** (of 4)

This is Annie Jacobsen’s first book in a series of investigative journalism pieces into top-secret practices of the U.S. government. Using the Freedom of Information Act, access to unclassified documents, and interviews with old-timers willing to talk on the record, Jacobsen does her best to describe goings-on at Area 51. Located in the Nevada desert, its existence is not acknowledged by the government nor is it located on maps. It is adjacent to Nevada’s nuclear testing sites, but entrance by land or air is only permitted to those with top level security clearances.

According to Jacobsen, Area 51 was created soon after the Manhattan Project at the end of WW II. It has been used by the CIA, the Air Force, and other military operations. Nuclear weapons have been developed and tested. Spy aircraft like the U-2, Stealth airplanes that could avoid radar, drones, and planes capable of flying faster than Mach 3 were part of Cold War competition between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. They were operational for decades before the public came to know of them and have been in use in conflict zones around the world. Radiation tests were probably performed on human subjects without their consent to determine the impact of nuclear fallout and the use of dirty bombs.

Jacobsen, strongly implies, that far more nefarious activities have been undertaken–actions so uncomfortable that they are protected against Freedom of Information inquiries. Some secret actions were so clandestine they were kept from Presidents. Jacobsen makes you wonder about the power of democracies to administer their militaries. She also makes you ponder what secret tests are underway today, tests we won’t know about for decades.

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