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by Nick Pope

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1999
ISBN: 0-87951-916-9
Publisher: Overlook

As a career civil servant with Britain’s Ministry of Defence, Pope served a three-year stint in the early 1990s as chief investigator of UFO sightings in the United Kingdom. He began as a skeptic and ended up a true believer. This book, a bestseller in Britain, attempts to explain his conversion but does a poor job of it. Fully a third of the book is spent discussing what is by now a familiar litany of UFO-related phenomena: Roswell, Area 51, the US Air Force “Blue Book” of UFO investigations, etc. Pope’s own work consisted mainly of investigating alleged sightings of UFOs, crop circles (huge, symmetrical designs mysteriously created in open fields), and cattle slaughters (aliens apparently like hamburgers). Slim as this investigative work is, and even though, as he himself admits, there is no proof of the existence of UFOs, Pope still insists that “there is a war going on” with aliens. To make matters worse, he contends, we aren’t even aware that this war is happening. He also assures us that 95 percent of UFO sightings go unreported, though his only evidence for this is that private UFO groups have said so. Still, the book is blessedly free of the paranoia found in so much of the UFO writing done in the US. For Pope, the government of Britain is not engaged in a conspiracy to cover up the existence of UFOs (as some believe about the US government); it just hasn’t bothered to do much investigating. He can also be lyrical, such as when describing the joy and wonder of visitors within a crop circle. But he can also turn around and be facile and trite. On the connection between aliens and ghosts he concludes, “The spirit world is highly complicated.” One would suppose this to be true. An odd, unconvincing statement of belief from a government official. (8 pages b&w photos)