Dreamland: Travels Inside the Secret World of Roswell and Area 51

Phil Patton, Author Villard Books $25 (512p) ISBN 978-0-679-45651-3
""Dreamland,"" ""Area 51"" and ""Groom Lake"" refer to a military base in Nevada about which the government has maintained a stony silence. Built in the early 1950s, this testing site marked the first flights of U2, SR-71 Blackbird and F-111 Stealth aircraft, and is the subject of wide speculation among ufologists. Patton's (Made in the USA; Voyager) detailed work follows last year's Area 51 by David Darlington. With a mixture of solid research and first-person ruminations, Patton explores a loosely knit community of tech-obsessed sky watchers dubbed ""the Interceptors,"" who are dedicated to unlocking the secrets of Area 51. As opposed to Darlington's earnest but unsophisticated work, Patton makes sure there's enough erudition to make the subject safe for readers of Esquire, where he is a contributing editor. (He compares, for example, military artifacts left in the desert to ""an Anthony Caro sculpture."") As he seeks out the often trailer park-based Interceptors (and sub-groups such as the ""Stealthers,"" and ""Youfers""), his invocations of Freud, Jung and even ""the dreamings of the aboriginal people of Australia"" turn the Interceptors' passion into a pat vision of millennial malaise. On the other hand, Patton often succeeds in illuminating military aviation and issues of secrecy, though he cannot offer any substantial revelations on what is or isn't at the base, be it planes that fly at Mach 15 or hidden spacecraft wreckage. Security remains uncompromised. Sixteen pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
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