UFOs and Government June 17 2013, 6 Comments

Our long time friend and prestigious UFO researcher Michael Swords, along with a group of well known historians and researchers in this field, decided to put together their expertise and resources in a truly important project which resulted in the book UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry—an extraordinary work of historical scholarship on government response to the UFO phenomenon.  “UFOs and Government” is a must-have book for any UFO researcher or student of the topic who truly wants to get an in-depth understanding of government handling of information pertaining to UFOs.  You can check out the book here.

We asked Michael to share his thoughts on the creation of this book, which he has authored with Robert Powell, and he has kindly shared this generous post with us. 

Without further ado, we will let Mr. Swords describe how the book came to be:

To the readers: my friend of many years, Monica, has asked me to say a little something about the UFOs and Government book, and I'm happy to do so.

The brief summary is that this is a "history" book based entirely upon US Government documents and other primary resource materials. Because of that, this is one of the few books in UFOlogy which is very close to "bulletproof"; that is, you can take its information as solidly real, because there is very little "author interference" with the facts that you will read. I wrote about 65-75% of the chapters and my job was to create an entertaining and therefore readable flowing narrative, but not to interject any personal theories of my own which went beyond obvious facts in the documents which are readable by anyone. Due to this hard attempt at objectivity, I believe that any open-minded reader will come away from the book breathing a sigh of relief that they have finally read something that they don't have to worry about its veracity.

The book began as a vague idea by my colleague Robert Powell that UFOlogy needed some kind of reference(s) upon which it could confidently stand. He invited a group of us to Austin, TX to think about that, and out of the meeting came a ten person team. We called ourselves The UFO History Group. The idea blew up into this huge writing undertaking. I took over two years to complete my parts. Non-US super-UFOlogists, Clas Svahn, VJ Ballester-Olmos, and Bill Chalker [the three best possible non-US scholars to present their countries' UFO/Government experiences], took about one year each to write their chapters. Other members of the team contributed writing, editing, indexing (there is a titanic index effort by Robert Powell), illustration search and permissions, and general content consulting. I probably never would have completed my share of this without everyone else pulling on the same rope.

The book could be viewed as an extension and updating of David Jacobs' UFO Controversy in America, but it is only vaguely so. Dave's book is a fine piece of history, but he had almost none of the "insider documents" that we have today. I had, for instance, the years of "heavy lifting" in FOIA action by people like Barry Greenwood and Jan Aldrich—and both Barry and Jan were powerfully informative members of the Team. AND, I had the advantage of Loren Gross' fantastic effort chronicling the UFO history from WWII through the early 1960s. Using Loren's chronicle as a skeleton, and loading in and combining all the Blue Book microfilm and other USAF FOIA knowledge, plus other agency records like CIA and FBI, and historical treasures like the Captain Ruppelt file information et al., we were able to construct what turned out to be a remarkably smooth and understandable narrative of what was happening "on the other side of the mirror" in the Intelligence community.

I knew as I was writing this narrative that although it generally cohered with and supported "what we've basically guessed was true", it found out many new things to the extent that it essentially not only supported our  suspicions, but in fact proved them. It, in its entirety, shows exactly why the intelligence community rallied around a policy of manipulating UFO information, and, in a way, had good reason for doing so. I felt that it was necessary to get the actual UFO phenomenon in the book, though, also. As stunning as this other-side-of-the-mirror look is, we all are interested in what was flying about too.

"History" is the retelling of the human activities involved in any subject, so you can write "history" without bringing in much of the rest of the subject than what WE did as humans. But, I didn't want to do that, and was a little "tricky" in my strategy with the writing. I'm telling you this so you will have full light on what this book is. My trickiness is pretty mild and defensible. I wanted to include real cases alongside the intel maneuverings, and it was completely natural [though not required] to describe the flow of actual cases which they were forced to respond to. So, I can promise you that unlike a lot a strictly history books, you'll get to read quite a bit about cases as well. This in fact helps make the military and policy narrative come alive. It adds a great deal to a constant flow of interesting real world interaction, and makes you feel more like you're living some of this right alongside the intelligence directors, the Blue Book project heads, the CIA operatives et al.

I can't promise you that you'll like the book, though I think that you probably will. What I can promise you is that it is perhaps the most factual book ever written on UFOs, and even I, as prime writer, altered, smoothed, and polished much of my first drafts due to the good offices of my great group of colleagues "looking over my shoulder". ( Hey, Swords, you lost your mind? You blew THAT fact!)

This is a good book. It is a thoroughly honest book. It rips away the reasons that the intel community decided to manipulate the UFO information and exactly how they did their deeds. I have spent too many years in the UFO trenches searching for a book that the field could stand upon. Allen Hynek tried to write a "textbook" (his The UFO Experience). It didn't work. Why? It was a good book. It didn't work because it was only about cases in the end. Anyone who wanted to could say: well, why, really, should I believe that? All of Dick Hall's books are the same way—great cases; but, at "reader's distance" believe it or not. This book is different. The facts therein are NOT doubtable; they come directly from the historical record. It is unseemly for me to say that this book is foundational—a cornerstone history upon which giants like Hynek, McDonald, Hall, Vallee can stand—but I cannot help thinking that this is exactly what it is.

-    Michael Swords, proud author, and grateful colleague.


Never Cease from Exploration… June 05 2013, 4 Comments

In June of 1980, Bob Girard (1942-2011) started Arcturus Books Service in upstate New York—33 years ago to the day. Being an ardent student of UFOs and other unexplained phenomena, he conceived his service as a way of being some sort of a supermarket where seekers and researchers in these fields could find all of the books they ever wanted to read in just one place. He became a scout of old and new books—which he would later offer in his mail-order catalogs with a sincere wish to provide people with the best there was in print regarding these subjects.  As his old customers know, he was himself a seeker at heart and a collector of all available literature in his times. 

In his first catalog in June of 1980, 33 years ago, Bob wrote: “…We don’t have to describe the thrills to be found in reading UFO literature; we feel sure that you already know many of them.  We have noticed this, howeve­r, in our own 25 years plus interest in UFOs and their literature: that as one’s interest in UFOs deepens, one is led into other fascinating areas of study through the study of Ufolit.  To adopt a truly panoramic understanding of flying saucers, one must study such allied areas as Astroarchaeology, Astronomy, History, Mythology, Parapsychology and Religion.  Through Ufolit, one’s personal vision can expand in many ways, and the entire course of one’s life may be changed—for the better.” 

It is in his same spirit, and honoring his late wishes, that we have decided to continue his work, in presenting you with ARCSTAR Books, to serve the same purpose as Arcturus Books did. 

Just like Bob did many years ago, we are embarking on a new journey.  Our decades of exploration and experience with Arcturus Books have taught us many lessons, yet in many ways we have arrived where we started.  We are off to a new adventure…we invite you to join us.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”  - T.S. Eliot


First Catalog 1980