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Chronicling the arrival and invasion of the UFO myth in American popular culture, "Peebles has thoroughly examined the context in which the saucer craze began, the forces and attitudes of those who championed the saucer myth, and the details of the various investigatory efforts made, " says Richard Hallion, Aviation Historian.
From the Publisher
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.
From The Critics
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.)
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.
Narrates the belief in alien visitors to the earth since the 1940s, when their spacecraft began to be described consistently as saucer shaped. Discusses the various divisions and feuds within the movement, its evolution through the decades, and its relation to believers' beliefs about the government, military, and other aspects of society. A debunking rather than a sociological study. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)