|Journalist Annie Jacobsen's various online bios report that:
Annie Jacobsen writes the "Backstory" blog for the Los Angeles Times Magazine. (PajamasMedia.com)
The reporter sat for some 500 interviews after she broke the story on terrorists probing commercial airliners. When she isn't digging into intelligence issues for the likes of the National Review, she's snapping Legos with her two boys. /(LAtimes.com blog)
Annie Jacobsen is a contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times Magazine and writes a weekly column... at latimes.com. An internationally recognized journalist, articles by and about her have appeared in National Review, the Dallas Morning News, the London Telegraph, Foreign Policy Magazine, Shanghai Daily, the New York Times and elsewhere. She has made guest appearances on more than 600 radio shows speaking to such diverse audiences as NPR and “The Savage Nation” about terrorism, national security and intelligence matters...
Hachette Speakers Bureau.com)
Jacobsen graduated from St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, in 1985, and Princeton University, in 1989, where she wrote with Joyce Carol Oates and Paul Auster, studied Greek, and served as captain of the Princeton Women’s Ice Hockey Team. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Kevin and their two sons. Area51TheBook.com)
Really? I mean, it's great that you love your high school -- I'm still somewhat fond of mine -- but, um...
She's here talking about this:
Suspected government coverups of alien visits have been the stuff of conspiracy theorists for years. Now, in an embargoed show and book that were not available for review before the book's publication, actual participants in the notorious Area 51 speak out about their experiences. Look for National Geographic Channel's Area 51 Declassified, which will première May 22. The book "Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base" will be released May 17.
The book is an expansion of an LATimes article from 2009. Here's the meat:
As for the myths of reverse engineering of flying saucers, Barnes offers some insight: "We did reverse engineer a lot of foreign technology, including the Soviet MiG fighter jet out at the Area"--even though the MiG wasn't shaped like a flying saucer. As for the underground-tunnel talk, that, too, was born of truth. Barnes worked on a nuclear-rocket program called Project NERVA, inside underground chambers at Jackass Flats, in Area 51's backyard. "Three test-cell facilities were connected by railroad, but everything else was underground," he says.
And the quintessential Area 51 conspiracy--that the Pentagon keeps captured alien spacecraft there, which they fly around in restricted airspace? Turns out that one's pretty easy to debunk. The shape of OXCART was unprecedented, with its wide, disk-like fuselage designed to carry vast quantities of fuel. Commercial pilots cruising over Nevada at dusk would look up and see the bottom of OXCART whiz by at 2,000-plus mph. The aircraft's titanium body, moving as fast as a bullet, would reflect the sun's rays in a way that could make anyone think, UFO.
The NYTimes did get an early copy:
At the start of “Area 51,” Annie Jacobsen’s cauldron-stirring book about America’s most mysterious military installation, Ms. Jacobsen offers a passing glimpse of a large-headed little gray space alien being interrogated by scientists in white coats. This is both a tease and a distraction. Yes, Ms. Jacobsen will eventually address the U.F.O. issue with which conspiracy theorists eagerly associate Area 51, but her book is not science fiction. It’s much more levelheaded. It is an assertive account, revelatory but also mystifying, of the long-hidden United States weaponry and espionage programs to which she says Area 51 is home...
...armed with numbingly intensive documentation, Ms. Jacobsen has put together a set of strong allegations about Area 51’s covert history. Part of “Area 51” is devoted to the nuclear weapons testing that began with the Manhattan Project..Her book moves on to the surveillance technology that was meant to override the need for nuclear arsenals. And her research into the world of “overhead,” the aerial espionage that needed to be developed in extreme secrecy, is compellingly hard-hitting...
Back to that little gray alien allegedly seen at Area 51: Ms. Jacobsen has a theory about the base’s alleged U.F.O. connections. It goes back to the radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 and the panic it engendered. Making a series of implications that are her book’s most controversial aspect, she connects this hysteria to the 1947 alleged flying saucer crash in Roswell, N.M., a story cherished by conspiracy theorists and not easily refuted.
Ms. Jacobsen connects the appearance of a real, disc-shaped, hovering object with Stalin-era Soviet intrigue. She hypothesizes that the relic found in Roswell was the opening shot in the cold war. She suggests that the supposed space creatures were human guinea pigs, the results of American experiments as monstrous as the Nazi ones conducted by Josef Mengele...
Although this connect-the-dots U.F.O. thesis is only a hasty-sounding addendum to an otherwise straightforward investigative book about aviation and military history, it makes an indelible impression. “Area 51” is liable to become best known for sci-fi provocation.
Publisher's Weekly was less generous:
Even the most prosaic explanation of the oft-mythologized conspiratorial epicenter known as Area 51 can't resist flights of bizarre speculation, to judge by this wildly inconsistent exposé. L.A. Times contributing editor Jacobsen (whose articles on Area 51 appeared in the paper's magazine) identifies the main business of the super-secret patch of Nevada desert as aerospace research, especially the development of the U-2 and A-12 spy-planes. A cross between The Right Stuff and The X Files, her absorbing history of the site shows us brilliant engineering, harrowing test-flights and crashes, paranoid security protocols, and vicious Air Force-vs.-CIA turf battles. Her rambling narrative often wanders away to other secret locales, including the Nevada Test Range and Area 52, where atom bombs and other infernal devices underwent trials. Drawing on interviews with ex-Area 51 staffers, the author's account of Area 51 and environs is thoroughly researched, lively, and quite sensible: she suggests that the base's odd-looking, high-flying, fast-moving experimental airplanes were the likely cause of associated UFO sightings. Unfortunately, Jacobsen then demolishes her own credibility by proposing a novel conspiracy theory--sourced mainly to a nameless engineer, it links the Roswell UFO incident to Soviet-built flying saucers and a grisly hoax cooked up by Stalin in which the "aliens" were human children created by Josef Mengele based on his gruesome human experimentation at Auschwitz. Her account makes Martian-invasion scenarios look downright plausible. Let the reader beware.
There aren't many reviews up at Amazon yet (notable: "The truth is out there...but it's pretty mundane."), but I'd bet on it getting more entertaining.