Just recently I was mailed a review copy of Kevin D. Randle's book, The UFO Dossier, which is published by Visible Ink Press. Many people will associate Kevin with his books on the Roswell, New Mexico event of early July 1947, including UFO Crash at Roswell (this one with Don Schmitt); Crash: When UFOs Fall From the Sky; and what I consider to be Kevin's best book on Roswell, which is titled Roswell in the 21st Century. So, when I got a copy of Kevin's latest, I was expecting more on what many see as Ufology's number-one case. But, no! Roswell is completely absent. I'll refrain from saying it has been abducted...
The sub-title gets right to the theme of the book: 100 Years of Government Secrets, Conspiracies, and Cover-Ups. This is a book written by someone who has been in the UFO subject a long time, and that shines through in the pages of this slightly more than 400-pages-long book. In some respects, it reads like many of the UFO-themed books I read as a kid. Now, I don't mean that Kevin's book is an exercise in nostalgia; it's certainly not. Rather, I mean that it's packed with data on classic incidents of the type many might say we rarely see nowadays. I'm talking about the likes of "vehicle interference" cases, close encounters between military aircraft and UFOs, waves and flaps, and landing cases. Even though many assume that those days are gone, Kevin shows that such incidents still occur - and to a significant degree.
The "Battle of Los Angeles" gets good, solid coverage. What I particularly enjoyed about Kevin's write-up on this curious affair - which involved unknown targets seen in the skies of Los Angeles on the night of February 25, 1942 - was Kevin's approach. To his credit Kevin does not rely on sensational tales - or as Greg Bishop calls it, "UFO porn." Rather, for the most part, Kevin focuses his attention on official documentation on the case and which was prepared by the Office of Air Force History. Kevin takes issue with the military's weather-balloon-based conclusions. And being Kevin, he does not do so in a shrill, arms-folded, defensive and sensationalized fashion. Rather, he carefully dissects the official version of events and points out the flaws - of which, he concludes, there are more than a few.
For me, one of the most interesting sections of the book is that titled "Lights in the Night Sky." The legendary saga of the "Lubbock Lights" of 1951 gets good, solid treatment. Kevin, remaining open-minded and with no agenda, finds fault in some of the reports, but suggests that some of the encounters still fall into the "unknown" category. Kevin notes one of the most important aspects of the sighting of "a group of dully glowing lights" which passed "overhead in a matter of seconds." And what might that be? The fact that the primary witnesses were a group of professors from the Texas Technical College - now the Texas Tech University.
In this same section, Kevin also focuses on what I consider to have been a highly credible wave of UFO activity which occurred in Belgium in November 1989, and which continued through 1990. That the Belgian Air Force took this wave of activity extremely seriously adds weight to the reports of fast-flying, triangular-shaped UFOs. Kevin, however, does not shy away from the issue of hoaxing and how this has definitely impacted on what may have been a legitimate number of encounters.
Turning his attention to the 1970s, Kevin takes a look at the October 18, 1973 extremely close encounter between a UFO and the crew of an Army Reserve helicopter in the skies of Ohio. That was the night when - according to arch-skeptic Philip Klass - the crew had an encounter with nothing stranger than a meteor. Kevin notes the many and varied reasons why Klass was wide of the mark. Kevin comes to the point: "In the end, this is a case that screams to be labeled as 'unidentified,' because there is no valid explanation for it. Klass was simply wrong in his analysis, and his speculations should be ignored because of his manipulation of the evidence and his lack of the flight characteristics of the helicopter."
Particularly refreshing was the section "Humanoid Reports in the Twenty-First Century." It's very much a mistake to say that reports of alleged alien entities are on the decline. We're not just talking about alien abduction-type encounters. Flying humanoids, nine-foot-tall monsters, and a classic Contactee-like report from North Port, Florida fin August 2012 all appear in the pages of Kevin's book. As for the rest of the book, you get a good study of the Rendlesham Forest incident of December 1980, pilot encounters in the skies of France, and the controversial McMinville photos of May 11, 1950 - taken by Paul Trent. The 17-page piece on McMinville is one of the best, as Kevin turns detective and addresses the case to a really in-depth degree. Real or fake? Again, Kevin gives the reader both sides of the argument.
If you want a no-nonsense, impartial look at Ufology and some of its most well-known cases, then The UFO Dossier is one I definitely recommend.