Summary: The following survey and summary does not pretend to be complete or objective; the field is far too vast for such sentiments and is expanding exponentially even as we speak. The best we can do is list several categories (you may think of others) and their most prominent and representative titles.
The following survey and summary does not pretend to be complete or objective; the field is far too vast for such sentiments and is expanding exponentially even as we speak. The best we can do is list several categories (you may think of others) and their most prominent and representative titles. These include the following:
Phenomenological and Historical
Hoaxes and Miscellanea
Phenomenological and Historical
Few books in the fledgling field of ufology, not yet half a century old, qualify as indisputable classics. If one had to choose a single indispensable volume, though, it would undoubtedly be Edward J. Ruppelt's Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (Doubleday, NY, 1956). From 1951 until 1953, Capt. Ruppelt was in charge of the Air Force investigation of UFOs, such as it was. Report is surprisingly well written - a page-turner in today's parlance -- and told from a unique insider's point of view. Ruppelt is both mystified and sympathetic at the outset. Three or four years later, however, he seems to have had a change of heart. A revized edition of Report appeared with three new skeptical chapters added. The first edition had ended with Chapter Seventeen, "What Are UFO's?" and Ruppelt's conclusion: "Only time will tell." Although long out of print, Report can readily be found in used and specialty bookstores, both in paperback and Book Club editions.
Jerome Clark's Three-volume UFO Encyclopedia. Clark is the editor of the International UFO Reporter, now published quarterly by the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). Two volumes of the massive Encyclopedia are now in print, with a third volume, High Strangeness, scheduled for publication in early 1996. Volume 1, UFOs in the 1980s (234 pages), was published by Apogee Books (Detroit, 1990); Volume 2, The Emergence of a Phenomenon: UFOs from the Beginning through 1959 (433 pages), appeared under the Omnigraphics imprint, also of Detroit, as will Volume 3. For ordering information call (800) 234-1340.
Clark is probably the most well read ufologist alive. Alas, the UFO Encyclopedia is produced by an academic publisher and bears a hefty price tag as a consequence. Still, one won't find more information about the UFO phenomenon in all its multifaceted aspects - from radar/visual cases to abduction encounters - in any one single "spot" than here. Indices and biographies included.
The UFO Controversy in America, by Dr. David M. Jacobs of Temple University, is one of the few "straight" academic treatments of the subject available. The drawback is that Jacobs' history ends in the mid-1970's. The only other comparable historical survey of the subject I can think of - and one with a dramatically divergent point of view - is Curtis Peebles' Watch the Skies! (Smithsonian Press, 1995). Jacobs has since authored Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions (Simon & Schuster, 1992).
The single most prominent ufologist to date is the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a professor of astronomy at Northwestern University, who began his UFO career as an Air Force consultant and scientific skeptic, and wound up a convert, founding the Center for UFO Studies that now bears his name. Hynek's best book is The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry (Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1972), from which the phrase "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" emerged into public awareness via the Steven Spielberg movie of the same name. CEIII describes a case in which the witness(es) approaches to within 500 feet of a UFO (or vice versa!) in association with a reported humanoid or entity. An abduction, in which the witness claims to have been taken aboard a UFO against his or her will, is routinely referred to as a CEIV.
If Hynek was the most prominent ufologist, his one-time student, Jacques Vallee, is arguably one of the most prolific, not only in terms of the sheer number of UFO books published, but also in regard to what might be called his philosophical output. Although his own thoughts about UFOs have evolved dramatically over the years, Vallee remains one of the field's most original thinkers. It was his Passport to Magonia (Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1969) that first alerted ufologists to the fact that certain aspects of contemporary UFO reports (and particularly humanoid encounters) mimicked or paralleled at least some ancient folklore motifs. At least two other Vallee books challenge Ruppelt's as certifiable classics: Anatomy of a Phenomenon (Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1965) and Challenge to Science: The UFO Enigma (Regnery, 1966), co-authored with wife Janine. Vallee's most recent contribution is Forbidden Science (North Atlantic Books, 1992), a compilation of his diaries from 1957 until 1969. Several of Vallee's books are still in print; others are available via used bookstores, libraries and specialty resellers.
The most prolific UFO researcher/writer, though, is England's Jenny Randles. Some of her more recent works include UFOs and How to See Them (Anaya Publishers Ltd., London, 1992), Encyclopedia of the Unexplained (Barnes & Noble, NY, 1995, with Peter Hough), Crop Circles: A Mystery Solved (Robert Hale, London, 1993, with Paul Fuller) and Alien Contacts & Abductions (Sterling Publishing, NY, 1995).
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An almost corollary component of the UFO-as-extraterrestrial-visitor hypothesis is a pervading suspicion that the government knows much more about UFOs than it is telling or willing to make public. Two titles in this category are worth mentioning: Clear Intent: The Government Coverup of the UFO Experience (Prentice-Hall, NJ, 1984) by Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood, and Timothy Good's Above Top Secret: The Worldwide UFO Coverup (William Morrow, NY, 1989). A third contender would be Out There (Simon & Schuster, NY, 1990) by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Howard Blum. A work which falls halfway between the above topic and this one is Richard Hall's Uninvited Guests: A Documented History of UFO Sightings, Alien Encounters & Coverups (Aurora Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1988).
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Ufologists haven't quite been able to make up their minds on this one themselves. While there is some consensus that if UFOs indeed represent material extraterrestrial spaceships, then at least some of same should have crashed over the years, there is little agreement as to exactly when and where, even in the case of the celebrated 1947 Roswell Incident. The best one can do is read the existing books and decide for one's self. The late Leonard Stringfield pioneered this field with several self-published monographs. The curious may want to seek out The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell (M. Evans, NY, 1994) by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt, or Crash at Corona by Stanton Friedman and Don Berliner (Paragon House, NY, 1994). Another title in the same vein is Kevin Randle's A History of UFO Crashes (Avon Books, NY, 1995). Karl Pflock's Roswell in Perspective (Fund for UFO Research, MD, 1995) is also recommended. This is an aspect of the UFO phenomenon, along with alleged abductions, where only angels dare to tread.
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C. D. B. Bryan has more initials than most authors need, but his Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs and the Conference at M.I.T. (Alfred Knopf, 1995) is also one of the more cautious and readable reports on the UFO abduction phenomenon. For primary sources, there's always the original M.I.T. conference proceedings, published as Alien Discussions (North Cambridge Press, 683 pages, Pritchard, Mack et al editors, ordering info (617) 354-6007). For a contrarian point of view see Jim Schnabel's Dark White: Aliens, Abductions and the UFO Obsession (Hamilton Hamish, London, 1994) and the article by CSICOP Fellow Robert Baker, "Alien Dreamtime," in The Anomalist: 2. For an even more contrarian point of view there is arch-skeptic Philip Klass's UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game (Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1989).
The first abduction case to receive widespread public attention was that of Betty and Barney Hill. While their initial encounter took place in September of 1961, it was relatively unknown outside a small circle of ufologists until the appearance of journalist John G. Fuller's blockbuster account of same, The Interrupted Journey (Dial Press, NY), appeared in 1966. Thirty years later, the abduction literature has blossomed considerably, stimulated originally by abstract artist Budd Hopkins's two books, Missing Time: A Documented Study of UFO Abductions (Richard Marek, NY, 1981) and Intruders: The Incredible Visitation at Copley Woods (Random House, NY, 1987). Today there are more abduction books than one can shake a stick at. To the above list we would definitely add Walter Webb's Encounter at Buff Ledge (CUFOS, Chicago, 1994) and Ray Fowler's The Allagash Abductions: Undeniable Evidence of Alien Intervention (Wildflower Press, OR, 1993). And then there is Harvard psychiatrist John Mack's controversial Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens (Charles Scribner's Sons, NY, 1994).
A sort of second (or is it primary) tier of the abduction literature is composed of first-person accounts of the experience. The foremost of these, at least in terms of sales, is probably the Whitley Strieber trilogy of Communion (William Morrow, NY, 1987), Transformation (Morrow, 1988), and Breakthrough (HarperCollins, NY, 1995). A fourth book, The Secret School, is said to be in the works.
More recently, such works have taken on a distinctly feminine cast, with books by Katharina Wilson, Karla Turner, Leah Haley and other female percipients predominating.
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English ufologist Hilary Evans has contributed several titles to this section, beginning with Visions, Apparitions, Alien Visitors (Aquarian Press, 1984) and Gods, Spirits, Cosmic Guardians (Aquarian, 1987). Keith Thompson's Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination (Addison-Wesley, NY, 1991) would easily slip into the same category, as would Carl Jung's Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky (New American Library, NY, 1959). Relevant peripheral titles would include University of Connecticut psychologist Kenneth Ring's The Omega Project: Near Death Experiences, UFO Encounters, and Mind at Large (William Morrow, NY, 1992) and David Hufford's The Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1982). For the far, far, out there is Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld by Patrick Harpur (Viking Arkana [Penguin], London, 1994).
Other titles in the same area include The Gods Have Landed: New Religions From Other Worlds, edited by James R. Lewis (State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 1995), When Prophecy Fails by Festinger, Riechen and Schachter (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1956), and In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space (Abbeville Press, NY, 1985) by Douglas Curran. Equally interesting is Howard Koch's The Panic Broadcast (Avon Books, NY, 1970), an account of the October, 1938, broadcast by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater company of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, a radio representation so real that thousands of people thought they were actually being invaded by aliens from another planet. Hadley Cantril's The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic (Princeton University Press, NJ, 1982) is in the same vein.
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Hoaxes and Miscellanea
Despite possible perceptions to the contrary, active hoaxes make up a miniscule amount of all UFO sightings reported.. It's not surprising, then, that there are few books floating around with the title "I Hoaxed a UFO." However, accounts of UFO and crop circle hoaxes do crop up on occasion. See Jim Schnabel's Round in Circles (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1993) and John MacNish's Cropcircle Apocalypse (Circlevision, UK) for numerous examples of the latter. Another title worth mentioning - because it's often taken literally by unsuspecting ufologists - is David Langford's An Account of a Meeting with Denizens of Another World, 1871 (David & Charles, London, 1979), a publicly professed hoax manuscript from start to finish that still surfaces in some UFO bibliographies. "Contactee" Cedric Allingham's Flying Saucers from Mars (Frederick Muller, London, 1954) is now widely presumed to have been a hoax perpetrated by the skeptical English astronomer Patrick Moore. For an example of an unadmitted UFO photograph hoax, see the January, 1994, issue of the MUFON UFO Journal. For a full-length expose of the continuing Billy Meier saga, see the just published Spaceships of the Pleiades by Kal K. Korff (Prometheus Books).
Miscellaneous books relevant to the UFO subject probably number in the thousands. Elsewhere we've already mentioned the works of one Charles Hoy Fort. If we had to add only book to our miscellaneous list, however, it would probably be Walter Kafton-Minkel's contortedly subtitled Subterranean Worlds: 100,000 years of dragons, dwarfs, the dead, lost races & UFOs from inside the earth (Loompanics Unlimited, Port Townsend, WA, 1989), which simply has to be seen and read to be believed. Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism and Nazi Survival (Joscelyn Godwin, Phanes Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 1993) would come in a close second, with Space-Time Transients and Unusual Events by Michael Persinger and Gyslaine Lafreniere (Nelson-Hall, Chicago, 1977) ranking third.
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Some students of the subject consider John Keel an occultist as opposed to a ufologist, but his major UFO works still make for interesting reading. These include The Mothman Prophecies (IllumiNet Press, GA, 1991), The Eighth Tower (Saturday Review Press/E. P. Dutton, NY, 1975), and UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse (G. P. Putnam's Sons, NY, 1970).
The above barely scratches the list of English and European written works, not to mention videos and related items. In short, there is no shortage of UFO literature. Consult these pages for additional reviews as they appear.