THE BASEMENT BOOK SHELF: “The Big Book of UFO Facts, Figures & Truth” by Stephen Spignesi & William J. Birnes

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UFOs. Those unidentified flying objects that have been seen in the sky and reported since before biblical times. This is a subject that I have been fascinated with since I was a kid. I have read dozens upon dozens of books over the years and try to read as many of the new releases that come out as possible. I have read tales that boggle the mind, making you wonder what the witness was on when they “saw” what they claim to have seen. I have also read many very compelling stories, that have convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is more going on than people seeing the planet Venus or witnessing a flock of ducks flying overhead, with their undersides reflecting the lights from the city below.

When I saw that this book was available, I immediately wanted to check it out. Though I was not familiar with author Stephen Spignesi, William Birnes was someone I knew of well, thanks to his work on the History Channel show, “UFO Hunters.” I had also already read, and enjoyed, Birnes’ books “The Day After Roswell” and “The UFO Magazine UFO Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Single-Volume UFO Reference in Print.” This book is, as the title states, big and clocks in at 360 pages and is a great overview of the UFO phenomenon.

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One of six pictures taken by Almiro Baurana in Trindade, Brazil on January 16, 1958.

I really like the way this book is set up and it presents a lot of things that will make you think, even if you are a skeptic. Right from the start it presents the reader with 218 cases from Project Blue Book, the United States Air Force’s investigative branch on UFOs that ran from 1947 until 1969, that feature sightings of unknown objects from military personnel. When it comes to UFO reports, reliability of the witness is a huge factor and those in the military, who oftentimes have years of experience with flying objects, are considered as some of the most reliable around. Each case is presented in a brief style that features date and time of the sighting, the location of the sighting, who the witnesses are, the duration of the sighting and a brief description of the sighting. When someone in the military reports something like this, they risk not only ridicule, but also losing their jobs or even their pensions. You just would not want to report seeing a UFO unless you were sure of yourself and what you saw.

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One of two photos taken by Ralph Ditter in Zanesville, OH on November 13, 1966.

The next section, Astonishing UFO sightings from 1860-1998, is another great section featuring some of the weirdest encounters ever recorded. Each blurb tells the basic story, providing more than enough information in case you want to learn more about the cases online. The stories feature enough to make you wonder what it actually was these people were experiencing.

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Next up are some quotes from scientists, military men, presidents and people from the CIA and the FBI. When people of this caliber talk, it is wise to listen. This then goes into a section describing the ten most commonly reported types of UFOs. From there it’s all about the four types of UFO evidence: physical traces, medical records, radarscope photos and photographs.

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Next on the agenda is Popular Mechanics Magazine’s Most Credible UFO Sightings. It still baffles me that this magazine covered UFOs so much, but they did and they always did it with respect to the subject. This section features six very credible sightings, most of which featured unbelievable pictures to accompany the story. Though photos are mentioned in the narrative, they are never shown, which is my only real complaint about this section. I think this chapter would’ve come across much stronger if the respective photos appeared with the stories so that the reader, especially someone just starting out with an interest in UFOs, can actually see them. To help with this, I am going to include some of these pictures in this review.

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One of six pictures taken by Almiro Baurana in Trindade, Brazil on January 16, 1958.

From here it’s all about the astronauts. The reports from the various astronauts are interesting because as with fighter pilots, astronauts are trained to be able to identify things in the sky. What interests me the most here, that I was already aware of , was Neil Armstrong’s conversation with a professor. I would love to know whether what is being reported is true or not as I have seen in some conversations, Armstrong denies these things.

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One of two UFO pictures taken by Paul Trent on May 11, 1950 in McMinnville, OR.

Next up is a chapter on J. Allen Hynek. If you are unaware, Hynek is the godfather of UFO investigations. Why? Because he was hired to be a part of Blue Book because of his skepticism to debunk UFO reports. What ended up happening though is that he became a believer. To me, this is really telling about the phenomenon as a whole. To change the mind of a skeptic says something.

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Searchlights focus on an unidentified object over Los Angeles on February 25, 1942. The bright dots around the flashes are anti-aircraft shells exploding.

I could continue to cover every section of this book but it really isn’t necessary. There is so much covered on both sides of the argument as to whether UFOs are real or not (or to put it more accurately, if they are ships that are extraterrestrial in origin). Though many topics may not go in extreme detail, enough information is always given so that you can do more research into any subject covered. The writing is direct and to the point and despite the size of this book, it is an easy and very quick read.

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A photo of a flying object allegedly witnessed by students and teachers in Australia in 1966.

Whether you are just starting out with an interest in the subject, or are a lifelong follower of the phenomenon, this book is a must-have in every UFO library. It’s a great reference source and one that you will revisit again and again. To order your own copy you can go directly through Skyhorse Publishing by going HERE or through Amazon HERE.

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~David Albaugh

 

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