The Flying Saucers Are Real By Donald Edward Keyhoe

Kindled for free: Apparently one of the first modern books in the UFO genre. I'm not sure how many other books I've read from this time period (around the 1940s/50s) and it is an odd era to be sure. On the one hand the 19th century isn't too long gone, but on the other hand the World Wars have changed everything. On the one hand everyone seems very familiar to the way it is now, but on the other there are definitely things we would consider ancient today. The actual argument of the book was a bit lacklustre - it wasn't either sensationalist enough to be exciting or scientific enough to be compelling, which is a sad mixture. On the other hand the writing style was good and the book was easy to read unlike certain other book's I've read recently. 3 quotes:

(Glossy magazines, flying saucers and telegrams! What a mixup!)

(Reflections on the Nazis)
Their buzz bomb, a low-altitude semi-guided missile, was just the beginning. Even the devastating V-2, which soared high into the stratosphere before falling on England, was just a step in their tremendous space program. If the Nazis could have hung on a year or two more, the war might have had a grimly different ending.

(Trying to think outside the box and failing miserably... Sorry Keyhoe, you would never make it as an Anthropologist)
They might live and think on a coldly intelligent level, without a touch of what we know as emotion. To them, our lives might seem meaningless and dull. We ourselves might appear grotesque in form. But in their progress, there must have been struggle, trial and error, some feeling of triumph at success. Surely these would be emotional forces, bound to reflect in the planet races. Perhaps, in spite of some differences, we would find a common bond--the bond of thinking, intelligent creatures trying to better themselves. Science Fiction I will start by saying, in the end I was ultimately convinced that the reported sightings were genuine UFOs. That being said, I did not get truly convinced until about the final 4 chapters or so. Actually, up until that point the opposite was occurring, and the narrative was actually near to convincing me that the answer was a big government secret weapon. Why? Because the author has very limited imagination and there seems to be the ultimatum that the answer either has to be a guided missile (which he effectively proves it is not) or a UFO. There is no grey inbetween zone. At least have a chapter outlining some possible -albeit far fetched- ideas. This inability to think anywhere outside the box becomes evident when the author is completely stumped by the idea of a floating light that seems to not be attached to anything (which should be stated he already proved and believed that the light did in fact exist). But come on! You’re going to accept the possibility that these saucers exist and are able to defy all known physics and yet can’t accept a floating light or even think of an idea as to how this might be possible such as an advanced camouflage system?? I understand that the author didn’t want to jump to conclusions without any affirmative proof, but if you’re going to write a novel on the exceedingly confusing topic of interplanetary ships you need to let your mind go to far off places. Science Fiction I picked this book up from the Park Ridge Public Library during my UFO phase in grade school. Too young to check out books from the adult library, I read it there along with many other books on the subject. Meanwhile, at home I'd spend evenings in the backyard watching the sky with my cardboard telescope, hoping... Science Fiction This is one of the first big books in ufology. It came out in 1950, only a couple of years into the UFO craze. It focuses on a few key sightings most of which are still considered to be classic UFO encounters. It's written in first person and feels very much like reading a mystery novel. It makes for a dramatic and fast paced read. My problem is the logic: if it's not a weather balloon or Venus then it must be interplanetary space craft. Just because an answer doesn't present itself doesnt mean it was something paranormal. Throughout the book he takes the approach with government and military personal that if they'd just tell him these sightings are connected to some top secret project he'd drop the whole thing. Having dealt with a number of reporters and been misquoted by a few, I can only imagine what these people were thinking of this UFO guy's question. It was probably along the lines of 'what 's the minimum I can say to make him go away?' His theories of a government cover up also rely on believing different departments within the government effectively communicate with each other. The encounters themselves are interesting and some of them to this day remain unsolved. Science Fiction It's been reported in the news lately that a UFO report is going to be released this month or so about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena - UAPs - apparently the new m0niker for what have been called UFO's for the past 70+ years, so I was motivated to dig out my father's old copy of this book which he got when it came out about 1950. The author served with the Marine Corp during World War II and afterwards, having retired from the MC with the rank of Major, became a reporter and was working for True Magazine - a prominent men's magazine of the mid-20th century. Its editor, Ken Purdy assigned him to look into several UFO sightings and prepare an article . So most of the book is taken up with his pursuit of information - from the Air Force, the Pentagon, commercial airline pilots and others. Reports of UFOs were coming in from all over the country, as well as overseas. There were a few sightings from the 19th century and before. In general it seems that the Air Force was out to quash these reports, to explain them away as best they could, in fear of causing a widespread panic (remembering a panic that broke out in 1938 when Orson Welles broadcast a radio play version of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds in which Martians invade the Earth). They were said to be misunderstandings of seeing weather balloons, missile testings, hallucinations, even the planet Venus, etc. Author Kehoe came to the conclusion that they were indeed aliens from another planet(s). One other explanation which he did not discuss at all is that they might have come from a different dimension, a different universe than ours. As far as I know, theories of a multiverse were not around in 1950. Think of a bunch of bubbles all together - each with a universe inside of them. In any case, so far no ETs have tried to take over the world, as far as we know. Stay tuned! Science Fiction


Overall a pretty boring book that is just a bunch of interviews and reports made by the author regarding alleged sightings and government coverups - nothing groundbreaking or unexpected for anyone who has read at least a little into the hunt for flying saucers. Personally, I'm not really a believer in the more otherworldly explanations. Not at this point anyway. I do find the idea a fascinating one and I go through my phases of being more into it all. But my agnosticism is more of a philosophical rather than instinctive one. I do think most if not all flying saucers that have not been entirely debunked were just secret military aircraft being tested (American, Russian or whatever). However, I am more open to the potential existence of alien life somewhere in the universe. Such a discovery would be monumental but, unlike those whose religious faith is apparently only shallow, this would not in any way shatter my belief in God or the Biblical story. It would simply be a new revelation we were not to find out about until later.

Unless this all happens, however, and I do not think there ever will be proof of anything beyond microscopic organisms or something else relatively unexciting on any another planet, my default will remain that they might be but probably are not out there.

But hey, it's fun to speculate. And there are better books than this one to do that with. Far better. Science Fiction Forget the cheesy pulpy cover, forget the blatantly sensational title, and forget how bloody old this thing is (1950), it is still one of the most entertaining, interesting and informative UFO books.

Its author, Major Donald Keyhoe, was a wonderfully pesky little shit, sinking his teeth into the topic like a bulldog and not letting go, and giving the U.S. Air Force brass a helluva run when they would rather he had gone away.

This book is almost certainly the first UFO conspiracy book ever written, or, if not, certainly the first one to become a bestseller. When it was first published in 1950, the UFO phenomenon had only been around in the public consciousness for three years. Keyhoe uses the military's hemming and hawing about UFOs to establish the government's lack of credibility and to bolster his, and in doing so he makes no bones about declaring UFOs to be alien craft. (Actually, the term 'UFO' had not even been coined yet; 'flying saucers' was still the standard appellation).

Whatever you may think about all of that, Keyhoe had at least the writing chops of a decent storyteller, and this book is a lot of fun, whether talking about UFO cases or speculating on future space travel and on real or theoretical aerospace technologies. It is better written than Ruppelt's famous Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (see my review), but not, on balance, as important a book. It is, however, a very good adjunct book to the Ruppelt tome, giving another perspective on the issue in its early days.

The narrative's first-person strategy turns Keyhoe into the dogged, intrepid reporter, and the pulp detective novel vibe and its old-school newsroom-style dialogues with his colleagues and his persistent editor, Ken Purdy, are retro gold.

(I had written a lot more notes, but am choosing to keep this one short).

(KevinR@Ky 2016) Science Fiction The Granddaddy of UFOlogy?
Donald Keyhoe, who is considered to be not only the first “flying saucer” researcher/investigator – and hence, UFOlogist before that term was fashionable – was also the first to suggest that the United States Air Force was covering up the truth about UFOs. And from what the research and his books and articles indicate, he might be in a position to know.

While Keyhoe was a writer working for True Magazine circa 1949/1950 when he first began to cover the ‘flying saucers,’ he also had quite an interesting past. Keyhoe graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy as a Naval aviator in 1919/1920 with a B.S. degree, was also initially commissioned as a Marine Corp Lieutenant and ultimately retired from his military career with the rank of Major after an active-duty injury. Keyhoe was also known to pilot both balloons and airplanes, making him exceptionally qualified to evaluate the data he was provided by the United States Air Force’s Project ‘Saucer,’ and later, Project Blue Book. Additionally, Keyhoe was the aide to the famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, as well as the founder of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena otherwise known as N.I.C.A.P. in 1956.

And if this isn’t enough to pique your interest in this book, let me just say that I agreed with his observations before I read his book, and after reading it I REALLY agree with him!
There’s something rotten in Dayton, Ohio as well as Washington, D.C., but what it is exactly is still not certain.

For more biographical information on Donald E. Keyhoe, see self dot gutenberg dot org forward slash articles forward slash Donald_Keyhoe.

Note that this book is now in the Public Domain and can be downloaded for free off of Amazon.
Further note that the original article which Keyhoe wrote – also entitled THE FLYING SAUCERS ARE REAL – can be read on the website: project1947 dot com; just do a search for that website and truejan1950 and/or Donald E. Keyhoe. The article as it appears on this website is the original The Flying Saucers are Real article as it appeared in TRUE Magazine and which was expanded into the later book with the same title.
Science Fiction Old books about UFOs and the paranormal in general are always fun: Sometimes for the unintentional humour, sometimes for interesting theories, sometimes as time capsules illustrating how their respective era's Zeitgeist deals with the unexplainable.

The Flying Saucers are Real by Donald E. Keyhoe is a good example of the last third category. While dated, it also immediately betrays its early-1950's origin by being absolutely swathed in Cold War paranoia. What struck me as interesting at first was how the default assumption Donald Keyhoe started the book arguing against was that UFOs necessarily are either US or Soviet secret aerospace vehicles. The next thing I found interesting was Keyhoe arguing that the UFOs are worth investigating even if they were found to not be a military threat to any state on Earth.

The book is also structured as sort of an autobiography focusing on the author's experiences going against the red tape of governmental procedure, him being a US Navy aviator unsatisfied with the authorities' official UFO investigations at first titled Project Saucer later renamed Project Grudge. These investigations focused exclusively on whether the UFOs were secret weaponry, aircraft or space vehicles tested by either foreign nations or secret US projects - and whether they were a national security threat to NATO. Keyhoe found most of the official explanations for UFO sightings unconvincing, making little sense as anything else than placeholders once they had been identified as anything else than Warsaw Pact military secrets. He also uncovered evidence of actual lying by the USAF and USN investigations, which is described in detail here. All the coverups that Keyhoe found evidence turn out to be of the fact that the authorities didn't know what the UFOs really were, rather than them covering up the hard evidence for extraterrestrial visitation of Earth. One case that really stuck to Keyhoe was fighter pilot Thomas Mantell dying in a plane crash while pursuing a UFO, since that case proved the UFOs to be a national security concern even if they weren't secret aerospace vehicles operated by the USSR.

Keyhoe also wrote this book in the very earliest days of the space race before large-scale space exploration had begun, so his speculations about space travel come across as quite old-fashioned. Star Trek fans might notice that the star of Wolf 359, which was the focus of a prominent space battle in one episode of that TV series, features prominently here as Keyhoe's favourite candidate for the origin of the extraterrestrial visitors in case Mars and Venus are both ruled out. (again, this book was written before the other planets of our solar system were discovered to be unhabitable) The book being a product of the Cold War becomes obvious again in Keyhoe's assumption that extraterrestrial visitors were necessarily observing nuclear tests or at least the arms race between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, no doubt as a result of many high profile UFO sightings. The so-called Nazi UFO mythos, in recent years popularised by the film Iron Sky, also makes an early appearance with Keyhoe speculating that perhaps sightings of alien spacecraft motivated German/Italian/Japanese engineers during WW2 to design their own.

Quite a few of the UFO sightings listen by Keyhoe have since been identified, often as misidentifications of observation balloons or Venus. This book nonetheless remains an essential read for people curious to find out how the popular image of UFOs shifted from man-made secret aircraft to alien spaceships. Science Fiction It's an interesting analysis but you should read for yourself and make your own conclusion. The main premise is that another highly advanced civilization(s) had been watching us for a while and ever since we developed A bomb and Hydrogen bomb their interest in us significantly increased since we possess a threat to ourselves (in a sense of exploding several of those bombs and kicking earth out of its orbit that will create problems in the near laying planets).

Also, the author says that military had denied anything related to it. Science Fiction

The Flying Saucers Are Real investigates numerous encounters between people, including fighter pilots, & UFOs. Keyhoe states that while Earth has been visited by extraterrestrials for centuries, the Air Force was actively investigating these cases & hiding them. He researched sightings, concluding the saucers are interplanetary. Keyhow, who had some access to original military files, didn't believe in space visitors before starting this book. He examines the most prominent UFO cases up to 1950: the Kenneth Arnold sighting, the Mantell Crash, the Chiles-Whitted UFO sighting etc, offering his own views. After checking every other possible answer thoroughly, he saw that they didn't fit with the reports. This is a must for anyone who wants to know the truth about UFO phenomena. It wasn't only one of the 1st, but also one of the best reports ever written on the subject. There is no sensationalism in its pages, just cold, hard, well-researched facts. Keyhoe was one of the most prominent figures in the early history & development of UFO studies in the USA. His book established him as a leading figure in the field. Over the next two decades he'd be frequently interviewed on tv & radio. In '57 he became the leader of NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena), the largest, most influential civilian UFO research group of the '50s & 60s. He remained its leader until 1969. The Flying Saucers Are Real

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