Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Grassroots UFOs is a brand new book that is as alternative as it is refreshing and informative. And it's one that should be in your UFO library, too. Like now.
Written and illustrated by UFO authority Michael D. Swords and published by Anomalist Books, Grassroots UFOs is, essentially, a large and varied collection of witness-testimony secured - under truly near-unique circumstances - by a man named John Timmerman.
For more than a decade, Timmerman was the brainchild behind a "traveling UFO exhibit" (for the Center for UFO Studies - CUFOS) that surfaced in shopping-malls just about here, there and everywhere across the United States. Its intention was to both inform and entertain those with an interest in UFOs.
There was a notable spin-off effect to the exhibit, however. It brought forth hundreds of people who were willing to quietly share with Timmerman the details of their very own UFO experiences and encounters.
And it's in the 250-pages of Grassroots UFOs that those cases are now revealed.
For me, Grassroots UFOs harks back to the days of such books as Dr. J. Allen Hynek's The UFO Report, Leonard Stringfield's Situation Red, and Coral Lorenzen's Flying Saucers. In other words, it's a book packed with previously-unseen witness testimony (all captured via Timmerman's trusty tape-recorder) on pretty much every aspect of Ufology, and one destined to become a fine resource tool for both present-day- and future-researchers.
Granted, some of the cases were perhaps not as deeply investigated as we might prefer, but this doesn't detract from the most important issue of all. Namely, that Timmerman collated an incredible, and previously-untapped, body of ufological data and experiences, and valiantly did so with the limited time, resources and circumstances available to him. And, with Swords at the helm, it's all there for us to digest and ponder upon.
Even though some of the case-reports might only take up half-a-page or slightly more, it's the sheer scale of encounters, and the spanning of numerous decades, that impressed me - as well as the deep similarities and trends present in certain reports, also spanning many years and varied locales.
Grassroots UFOs also highlights some tantalizing and intriguing stories that, to this reviewer anyway, are highly suggestive of much more. Take, for example, the story on page 22 of a number of people who - way back in the summer of 1945 - witnessed unusual aerial activity in the vicinity of Oquawka, Illinois. Strange basketball-sized spheres of light kept the witnesses transfixed for nearly an hour - that is, until each and every one of them "went to sleep." An early report of "alien abduction" or some altered-state interaction, perhaps?
And, there are many such reports in Grassroots UFOs that suggest the accounts told by the witnesses might actually represent only the bare-bones of what really occurred, and that perhaps there was far more to be uncovered than initially met the eye.
But, this does not distract from the significance of the data that we do have in-hand. Vehicle-interference cases; close encounters with entities of an unusual, non-human, and at times ominous, nature; radar-reports; and military whistle-blowers with tales of crashed UFOs and dead aliens, abound in the pages of this book.
Notably, Grassroots UFOs also reveals that contrary to what many people within Ufology assume, the so-called Flying Triangle-style of UFO is most assuredly not a new one. In fact, Timmerman's data reveals sightings of just such craft from the 40s and 50s.
That's one of the things that makes this book so important: by citing early FT reports and what sound very much like 1940s-era abduction stories, Grassroots UFOs challenges much of what has previously been reported within the domain of Ufology - namely that abductions began with Betty and Barney Hill in 1961, or that the FT's are simply next-generation Stealth aircraft. Of course, those are just two issues. I could cite countless more in Grassroots UFOs that push back the barriers of when the subject really began in earnest.
Equally importantly, Grassroots UFOs demonstrates the incredible extent to which the UFO phenomenon (whatever it may be or represents) has played a long, massive, and at times intensely personal, role in American society.
Timmerman, Swords, and Anomalist Books' Patrick Huyghe and Dennis Stacy are to be applauded for not just sharing the hundreds of cases that pack the pages of Grassroots UFOs, but also for demonstrating that, within Ufology, there is nothing more important than the eye-witnesses.