Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review--The Day After Roswell

by Col. Philip J. Corso with William J. Birnes

This is the account of the late Philip Corso, colonel in the United States Army and as he tells it, overseer of alien technology.  As the title implies, this story has its true beginning with the UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico of July 1947.  Corso tells of the various forms of alien technology and entities that were recovered from the crash site.  With the experience of being the head of the Army's Foreign Technology Desk in Research and Development, Corso led the effort to reverse engineer this technology and turn it into night vision goggles, stealth aircraft, fiber optics, integrated circuits, and numerous other technologies that we now take for granted.

I'm sure that Col. Philip Corso was a nice guy.  And as with anyone who has worn a uniform and served to protect, he deserves the gratitude and respect of every American.

That said, the account this book puts forth has all the earmarks of a Walter Mitty story.  In the famous short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the titular character daydreams of fantastic lives that he will never lead, all of them far more grandiose than his grim reality.
While Corso's account is not to this magnitude, there does seem to be a larger than necessary amount of chest puffing.  We are regaled with paragraphs explaining how "I was in charge of this" and "I was one of only a few people who knew that" and "I met the Pope" (not making that one up) and so forth.  He was military brass.  We get the picture.  So why do we need the photo of him getting a medal pinned to his chest?  What does that have to do with Roswell?

Then there is the matter of the "reverse engineering."  We get the impression from Corso's account that damn near any advancement in technology in the past 60 years or so has its roots in alien hardware found at the Roswell crash.  That just does not sit right with me.  For one, this notion gives the same short shrift to human ingenuity that the "ancient aliens" crowd does.  Secondly, a few of the technologies Corso mentions were actually around before Roswell happened, at least in conceptual forms.  For example, Tesla and other scientists had thought of lasers and the Germans were experimenting with early forms of stealth and night vision.  The stealth aspect leads to further questioning.  If these UFOs are so stealthy, why did they register on radar during several sightings, most notably the Washington D.C. mass sighting of 1952?

That point is just one of the apparent inconsistencies in the book. Corso claims that we shot a UFO down over Rammstein Air Force Base in the late 1970s.  How could we manage that with our comparatively less sophisticated missile systems?  Corso asserts that he saw an alien body encased in a "goo" inside a crate at an army base in Kansas.  The crates were supposedly on trucks from Roswell.  Why would the military fly the wreckage of the craft out of Roswell but not the bodies?  After all, the bodies are going decompose.  The UFO material logically should not.  It just makes me wonder. 

There are other, similar allegations that made me sit up and ask "how could he possibly know that?"  Much of this may come from co-author Bill Birnes.  Birnes is the chief editor of UFO Magazine and the former host of UFO Hunters.  I like Bill a lot.  However, he has a flare for the dramatic.  I have to question how much of this might have been amplified for dramatic effect.

Most of all, the book offers precious little in the way of evidence to back up the claims.  There are appendices with a few intra-governmental memos and detailed plans for a hypothetical military base on the Moon, but nothing that really supports Corso's accounts.  While I don't expect classified documents to be published along with the story, in the absence of evidence I am still forced to call it just that: one man's story.   

Though grievously flawed, this book does have its merits.  Corso neatly explains just how a cover-up can be implemented by the government.  It's all about compartmentalization and "seeding" the military-industrial complex with the alien technology in isolated sectors.  For example, highly trained engineers may be given fiber optics and asked to work them into military applications.  The engineers might say, "Wow!  Where did you get this?" and the reply can be, "Dunno, it's something the boys in R&D came up with."  Additionally, Corso confirms the existence of Majestic-12 and even goes into the theory that the "aliens" are actually biomechanical constructs or even time travelers.

In short, The Day After Roswell can only be one of two things: 1) One of the most important books ever published or 2) One man's musings based upon a small kernel of fact.

Unfortunately, I must place my money on the latter. 

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