MUFON, or some members of MUFON, have come up with a list of what they think of as the one hundred top books about UFOs published over the last seventy years or so. There are some things wrong with that list that I thought I would mention, which is, of course, my opinion of what is wrong. You can see their list here:
The first three books on this list were written by George Adamski (one with Desmond Leslie) and that makes me wonder about this. Adamski was the contactee who claimed communication with people of Venus. Tall, good looking people who apparently were worried about Earth and our warlike ways. In the 1950s and 1960s when the contactees were in their heyday, Venus was seen as a world somewhat similar to Earth except the surface was hidden in a perpetual cloud bank that suggested a steamy, jungle-like, swampy planet. Today we know the surface is hot enough to melt lead and doesn’t seem to be the likely home of any living creatures, let alone an advanced race capable of interplanetary flight. This would mean that Adamski wasn’t honest in his descriptions of Venus or in his communication with the inhabitants… his book might have been influential but it was complete fiction. Should it actually be on a serious list?
Adamski is not the only contactee represented here. Dan Fry, or should I say Doctor Dan Fry and his The White Sands Incident is on the list. Frank Stranges, or should I say Dr. Frank Stranges, is there with his Stranger at the Pentagon. I’m not sure why there are so many books by contactees who claim to have interacted with alien creatures, usually from other planets in the Solar System. I have to wonder why George van Tassel was overlooked.
Another entry that I think is questionable is The Philadelphia Experience. This is that tale we discussed a while back that is based on the hoax perpetrated by Carlos Allende or Carl Allen, depending on his mood. There has been quite a bit written about this, and it was the subject of several books, but the whole thing started when Allende (or Allen) created the letters about teleportation and Navy experiments. He even admitted the hoax and his parents and other family members confirmed the hoax. It seems that this is the fifth or sixth book of fiction to appear on the list.
This would be the same complaint about Behind the Flying Saucers. Though there has been some resurgence in the Aztec UFO crash, I believe the case has been discredited. Two of the primary sources had backgrounds that were less than sterling (though I know Frank Warren disagrees with me on that or at the very least doesn’t believe it disqualifies their testimony).
I also wonder why UFOs: God’s Chariots made the list when Erick von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods did not. I mean that if we’re going to credit someone with creating the whole ancient astronaut theory, it was von Daniken who popularized this idea though others had reported on this many years before von Daniken hit the bestseller list.
Oh, there are some very good books on the list. David Jacob’s UFO Controversy in America seems to belong. So do the two books by J. Allen Hynek, The Hynek UFO Report and The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry. And let’s not forget Allan Hendry’s The UFO Handbook. Some of Vallee’s books are there, but I wonder if they might not be overly represented. I think the same thing about Keyhoe’s books because I worry that some of the information is more speculative than factual, but then, those books were certainly influential. The same can be said for the Lorenzen’s though they sometimes let their enthusiasm for the extraterrestrial cloud their vision.
I was surprised to see Carl Sagan on the list. His book with Thornton Page, UFOs: A Scientific Debate is properly there as well. Strangely, Steven Spielberg made the list with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is obviously a movie created for entertainment. The book based on it doesn’t add to our knowledge.
Actually, this looks more like a list someone prepared of his or her own library of UFO books. It is an eclectic mix of books that run from those that are clearly fiction (Adamski and Fry) to those that actually add something to our knowledge. I don’t know the criterion used to select the books, but it seems that it wasn’t very strict and probably had more to do with MUFON entering the book publishing business than anything else.