First aired on The Current (22/6/11)
Area 51 is one of the most mysterious places in the world. The United States government barely acknowledges its existence. Astronauts are not allowed to photograph it. Rumours of underground railroads, time-travel development and alien technologies are all associated with this military base in Groom Lake, Nevada. But what really goes on there? And why all the secrecy?
Author Annie Jacobsen decided to find out. Her new book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base is the most comprehensive, revelatory account of Area 51 to date. Thanks to interviews with 74 sources who all lived and worked in Area 51, Jacobsen sheds light on the base and its classified projects, including what really happened in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.
Despite the secrecy shrouding the military installation, Jacobsen could verify every single story her sources told her except one. Slowly but surely, the American government has been declassifying documents from the area. They're just not making it easy for people to find them. "Many of them have been hidden," Jacobsen revealed to The Current host Anna Maria Tremonti in a recent interview. "They have been buried in archives and I was able to source them because of the information the 74 men gave me."
The only story Jacobsen could not verify was what happened at Roswell. That project is still classified and Jacobsen believes it's because of this project that the American government is so secretive about Area 51. So what really happened? What crashed there wasn't a weather balloon or an alien spaceship: it was a Russian military craft, shaped like a flying saucer, designed and built to terrify Americans à la Orson Welles's 1938 radio drama War of the Worlds. And those big-eyed, big-headed bodies eyewitnesses claim they saw? Jacobsen says they were children, raised and trained to fly these ships.
This information comes from a single source, an engineer who worked at Area 51 at the time and studied the wreckage of the flying saucer in an attempt to better understand the technology. It's the only piece of information Jacobsen cannot verify, but she is confident she has finally revealed the truth about Roswell. "I absolutely stand by the veracity of my source," she said. "I felt it was important to put it in the book. I made that decision, I stand by that decision."
While this is perhaps the most ground-breaking discovering in Jacobsen's book, she's quick to point out that all the projects conducted in Area 51 over the past 50 years are mind-blowing. Aircraft from the 1950s that still hold speed records. Drone development 30 years before public knowledge. Monkeys sent through nuclear mushroom clouds. It's all in there — and it's all true.
Area 51 is not an extraterrestrial haven. But it is a place of development, of espionage, of warfare and of secrecy. "It's where many of America's agencies come together," Jacobsen said. "These secret organizations working on top secret projects that, until my book, I believe 98 per cent of them were unknown."
Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base
Buy this book at:
"It is the most famous military installation in the world. And it doesn''t exist. Located a mere seventy-five miles outside of Las Vegas in Nevada''s desert, the base has never been acknowledged by the U.S. government-but Area 51 has captivated imaginations for decades.
Myths and hypotheses about Area 51 have long abounded, thanks to the intense secrecy enveloping it. Some claim it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, and nuclear facilities. Others believe that the lunar landing itself was filmed there. The prevalence of these rumors stems from the fact that no credible insider has ever divulged the truth about his time inside the base. Until now. "
Read more at Little, Brown and Company.