The UFO Files – new edition 2012

The second edition of The UFO files will be published by Bloomsbury on 13 September 2012. Copies can be ordered directly from TNA bookshop or from Amazon here.

Cover of The UFO Files, 2nd edition, published 13 September 2012

A sample section from Chapter 2 of the first edition can be downloaded free of charge from the TNA website UFO page.

‘What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth?’ Winston Churchill, 28 July 1952.

They were referred to as ‘the Real X-Files’ and for decades they were kept locked in the archives of Britain’s Ministry of Defence.  But since the arrival of Freedom of Information more than 50,000 pages of documentation on UFOs have been released to The National Archives.  Journalist David Clarke led the campaign for the disclosure of the files and as the consultant for The National Archives UFO Project, he has had unique access to both the files and many of those who were responsible for UFO investigations at the MoD and RAF.

This fully revised and expanded edition is the first comprehensive history of the MoD’s UFO investigation unit.  Although official investigations began in the 1950s when Winston Churchill demanded to know ‘the truth’ about UFOs, this book reveals official interest stretched back to before the First World War. Alongside extraordinary sightings by ordinary people The UFO Files also includes accounts of close encounters reported by civilian aircrew and military personnel, mysterious phenomena seen on radar and related mysteries such as ‘crop circles’.

The stories are brought to life by dramatic witness statements from the files, supplemented by interviews – many undertaken by the author himself – and rarely seen photographs, drawings and newly available documents, to offer a unique guide to one of our most intriguing and modern mysteries.

Of the many testimonials receive this is from Martin Shough (September 2009):

“an excellent book, a fine introduction to the subject for anybody. It strikes just the right tone. Sceptical but never derisive. It shows UFO history as a social phenomenon embedded in the changing culture but even the more risible stories are told sympathetically so that we see the phenomenon as something to celebrate as enhancing the human condition as much as something that pollutes it. The new reader will get a good feeling for just how much strangeness turns out in the end to be explainable, but a residual mystery is frankly admitted in some cases and an open hand is held out the proponents of scientific novelty….one of the few UFO books I could conscientiously recommend to an innocent but curious friend whose good opinion I valued…”

The Mail on Sunday, 27 December 2009,  awarded the book 4 out of 5 stars and reviewer Harry Ritchie compared the results of my “expert rummagings” through the MoD archives with the breaking of the MPs expenses scandal earlier that year. Both breakthroughs were achieved as a result of investigative campaigns using the Freedom of Information Act. He wrote:

“UFOlogists believe aliens are among us and the military and political establishment are either blind to this dramatic fact or have covered it up. This book proves decisively that both beliefs are nonsense. The reality is both reassuring and unthrilling. First, there are no flying saucers and little green men, hence the lack of even the most microscopic piece of hard evidence. Second, the MoD has neither covered anything up nor been blindly dismissive. In fact, until finally closing its UFO investigations unit earlier this month, the MoD has often taken UFOs seriously, even commissioning secret reports. In 2000 its Condign report concluded: ‘That UFOs exist is indisputable’  Eh? Yes, UFOs are real [but] they are not extraterrestrial spacecraft…they’re natural phenomena which we don’t really understand yet….The only remaining mystery is this: why would the MoD want to keep things top secret? It’s not because there’s any conspiracy but because it has held us, the public it is supposed to be serving, in a mixture of fear and contempt. All that the MoD’s secrecy achieved was to encourage dark rumours and daft fantasies.”

More praise for The UFO Files:

Peter Brookesmith, reviewing the book for Fortean Times, wrote:

“…[this book] is a survey of the whole MoD archive, but it is also, in effect, a brief review of the history of the UFO phenomenon as seen through British eyes. As such it demonstrates an intrinsic Forteanism. It will probably irritate those convinced that UFO experiences can be explained as mundane events…as much as it will annoy those who want evidence that UFOs are alien or interdimensional craft….By offering no opinions and no reductive interpretations of his data, Dr Clarke makes the numinous nature of his subject all the more apparent.”

Peter Rogerson, in his review forThe Magonia Blog, says “every UFOlogist should have this book.

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