Men in Black is the new book from Conrad Bauer. Its subtitle: Evidence and True Stories About Earth's Most Mysterious Cover Agents. Certainly, it's not the longest book ever written on the phenomenon (it's pretty slim), and it's not a deeply extensive study of the mystery. But, where the book really scores, is the way in which Bauer approaches his story. What Bauer has done is to write a book on the Men in Black for those who are, perhaps, largely new to the phenomenon - and who want a basic, quick rundown on the puzzle and without having to dig through the 10 or so MIB-themed books that are currently available. And, it helps that Bauer has a good, atmospheric style of writing, one which makes his book a cool page-turner.
Bauer begins with a summary of the extremely controversial saga of the Maury Island incident of the summer of 1947; an incident involving an exploded UFO. Or, which was nothing but a crazy hoax, one that tragically led to the deaths of two military personnel. True or not, the Maury Island affair became notable for its link to a sinister character in black who warned one of the key witnesses, Harold Dahl, to keep his mouth shut. Or else.
There is a great deal of information in Men in Black on Albert Bender, the one guy who, in almost single-handed fashion, "created" the MIB mystery. Or, who at least brought it to the attention of the UFO research community and - eventually - to the military, the FBI and the public, in a roundabout way. So many researchers have claimed that the trio of MIB who visited Bender's home in 1953 were from the government. They certainly were not.
Bauer, in his section on Bender, skillfully demonstrates that Bender's MIB were not agents from the U.S. Government. They were ghoulish, menacing things that didn't even look completely human. On top of that, Bauer points out how the MIB that Bender crossed paths with had far more links to the occult and the supernatural than they did the likes of the CIA, the Air Force, etc. Bauer, in a persuasive fashion, make it clear that whoever - or whatever - that trio of terrors in black that plagued Bender really were, they were clearly something paranormal and dangerous.
As Bauer notes, Bender's story was filled to the brim with paranormal activity, dangerous beings from other planes of existence, and things that sounded like they had just stepped out of the pages of a Victorian era Penny Dreadful. Shadowy figures in black follow him to his home late at night. Strange balls of light appear in his attic bedroom - which becomes overwhelmed by a powerful odor of sulfur, no less.
Bauer then moves onto the matter of Gray Barker's 1956 book on the Bender affair. Its title: They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers. Barker's book is a controversial one. It is filled with rumors fleshed out as facts, and Barker's imagination going into overdrive. Add to that a few outright hoaxes undertaken by Barker, and what you get is hardy non-fiction: They Knew Too Much...
Strange characters impersonating employees of NORAD crop up, as do a couple of genuinely weird sagas of MIB from the U.K., in the early 1970s. I liked these sections particularly, as Bauer makes it clear just how inhuman these things really are. Of course, it wouldn't be a book on the Men in Black without a good look back at the MIB presence in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where the Mothman lurked from late 1966 to December 1967. The dark atmosphere that enveloped the area is well-handled, making it abundantly clear that they were truly strange times - and that Point Pleasant was even home to pale-faced Women in Black, as well as the equally creepy MIB. And with the specter of the Mothman hanging over the good people of Point Pleasant.
In the next couple of chapters, Bauer makes an even greater argument to the effect that the Men in Black are not human. Inhuman would be far better. Bauer ends his book with a look at the possible origins of the Men in Black - and their strange, and almost theatrical, activities, which are particularly in evidence when they are terrorizing witnesses to UFOs.
In conclusion, Conrad Bauer's book, Men in Black, is the perfect one for people who don't know too much about the MIB subject - but who would like to - and who don't want to have to wade through 300 pages or more to get the answers and to learn about the classic cases. In a well-structured, and well-written, fashion Bauer gives the reader the key moments in MIB history, the theories for what they are, their possible motivations and much more. And it's all presented in a very creepy, bizarre and surreal fashion - which is highly appropriate for a book on the Men in Black!