Forthcoming book on the history of Area 51

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Message posted by Peter Merlin (Member since 11/13/2003) on April 08, 2023 at 18:56:55 PST:

I hadn’t really planned on flogging my latest book until it was actually available, but here we are. Now that Schrödinger's cat is out of the box, so to speak, I may as well crack on.

My magnum opus has now been mentioned on several forums, always with the first comment being something like: “Geez, it’s so expensive.” Really? First, this price ($75 USD) is pretty reasonable for a book this size with so many photos. It’s just five dollars more than Chris Pocock’s 50 Years of the U-2 (also from Schiffer), which has 440 pages and nearly 500 illustrations and ten dollars more than the latest edition of Paul Crickmore’s Lockheed Blackbird: Beyond the Secret Missions (Osprey) that has 472 pages and 400 photos. It’s half the price of Station D – Area 51 by T.D. Barnes (Begell House), which tops out at 590 pages. Schiffer bent over backward to keep the price of my epic tome within the realm of affordability, and for that I am truly grateful.

Second, how is the price tag even the headline for this story? DREAMLAND: The Secret History of Area 51 is the first ever scholarly history of the legendary flight test facility at Groom Lake, Nevada.

My book is unlike any previous volume covering this subject matter. It is based on more than 30 years of in-depth research including thousands of pages of declassified government documents and dozens of interviews with people who actually worked there. The narrative is presented in highly readable prose, but with same academic rigor I applied when writing peer-reviewed research papers and books for NASA and the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. This is a straightforward history. Unlike some previous Area 51 titles I shall not name here, you won’t find any wild speculation or conspiracy theories. No breathless melodrama. You will find around 560 pages containing approximately 285,000 words and more than 700 photos and illustrations. Readers will find the writing lean and the content well organized and contextualized. This book should be of interest to anyone with a casual interest in Area 51, as well as to hardcore aviation enthusiasts and scholars of military history.

It must be distinctly understood that I used only UNCLASSIFIED source material. Let me make that perfectly clear: Only UNCLASSIFIED. This included declassified documents as well as material that was never classified to begin with. That’s all I had to work with, which suited me just fine. Throughout the entire narrative, I have carefully documented my sources for each chapter. They can be found in the End Notes section at the back of the book. There are more than 1,300 source notes, many citing multiple sources. That’s probably more than was strictly necessary. I was not merely thorough about my sourcing; I was positively obsessive. I did this, in part, to show that I had done my homework; I didn’t want anyone to think I was just pulling this stuff out of my…uh…hat. Most important, I never wanted to give anyone an excuse to ask, “Hey, where did he get that?” (If you are asking that question, you need to read the appropriate source note.)

Fun fact: I have hidden a number of “Easter eggs” in the source notes. It’s kind of like those extra scenes that show up at the end of a movie after the credits roll.

Now, some potential readers might be tempted to say, “We already know all about some aspects of Area 51 history.” I assure you that this is not the case. I promise that you will learn something new in every chapter. As I went along, I was very conscious of the fact that much has been written about certain programs (for example, the U-2 and OXCART, and even the F-117A). Let’s face it, some things are immutable. Facts are facts, and milestones occurred in fixed chronological order, so necessarily some passages will feel like familiar territory. I therefore challenged myself to find new stories to tell, as well as new perspectives on old stories. In some instances, I simply added as many new details as possible to tell a more complete narrative than has been done previously. Wherever possible, I also corrected erroneous data that have long been accepted as gospel. Details matter.

Assembling this story required tremendous effort, but it paid off. Expect to learn things you never knew about AQUATONE and OXCART, and the origins and evolution of Area 51. Discover the truth behind HAVE GLIB and the birth of the Red Hats. Read the most detailed accounts yet of the innovative programs that constituted the “stealth revolution.” Solve the mystery of Project REDLIGHT that piqued the curiosity of UFO hunters in the early 1980s. For the first time ever, enjoy the full stories of projects EQUINE, AQUILINE, HAVE RASH, SENIOR PENNANT, and others, as well as the true genesis of the “Janet” flights, and how Area 51 got its name. To a greater degree than ever before, I cut through a tangled web of myths and rumors to celebrate the true story of a unique national asset. I hope you enjoy it. I must admit that I feel a bit like William Mulholland, when he presided over the opening of the aqueduct that brought seemingly unlimited quantities of water to California’s parched San Fernando Valley in November 1913. “There it is,” he said, “Take it!”

Attached link: DREAMLAND: The Secret History of Area 51


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