Summary

The definitive history of the military's decades-long investigation into mental powers and phenomena, from the author of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Pentagon's Brain and international best seller Area 51.
This is a book about a team of scientists and psychics with top secret clearances.
For more than 40 years, the US government has researched extrasensory perception, using it in attempts to locate hostages, fugitives, secret bases, and downed fighter jets, to divine other nations' secrets, and even to predict future threats to national security. The intelligence agencies and military services involved include CIA, DIA, NSA, DEA, the Navy, Air Force, and Army - and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Now, for the first time, New York Times best-selling author Annie Jacobsen tells the story of these radical, controversial programs, using never before seen declassified documents as well as exclusive interviews with, and unprecedented access to, more than 50 of the individuals involved. Speaking on the record, many for the first time, are former CIA and Defense Department scientists, analysts, and program managers, as well as the government psychics themselves.
Who did the US government hire for these top secret programs, and how do they explain their military and intelligence work? How do scientists approach such enigmatic subject matter? What interested the government in these supposed powers and does the research continue? Phenomena is a riveting investigation into how far governments will go in the name of national security.
©2017 Annie Jacobsen (P)2017 Hachette Audio
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Critic reviews

"As comprehensive as it is critical, this latest expose from Jacobsen is perhaps her most important work to date...Jacobsen persuasively shows that it in fact happened and aptly frames the dilemma...Rife with hypocrisy, lies, and deceit, Jacobsen's story explores a conveniently overlooked bit of history." ( Publishers Weekly, starred review)
"With Phenomena, Annie Jacobsen has once again produced an utterly absorbing and brilliantly reported chronicle that truly breaks new ground. This is a boundary-breaking story of mental phenomena - extra sensory perception techniques - that is truly a pleasure to read. A mind-bending triumph!" (Alex Kershaw, best-selling author of The Liberator and Avenue of Spies)
"Chilling, compelling, and comprehensive accounting...Jacobsen's impressive book plumbs the dark depths of this postwar recruiting and shows the historical truths behind the space race and postwar US dominance. Highly recommended for readers in World War II history, espionage, government cover-ups, or the Cold War." ( Library Journal, starred review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Tanika on 16-06-18

Interesting material

I was familiar with much of this but it was very interesting to hear the origins of ESP studies. Well-researched.
However the narration was rather irritating, staccato and with continual mid-pronunciations of names and places. Almost made me give up or turn to the printed copy.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By jebidia24 on 06-07-17

Interesting investigation, not Jacobsen's best

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed this book even though it took me a long time to finish. I was aware of the US governments research into ESP but this book went to another level of research. The author did a good job maintaining an objective narrative, not openly trying to sway the reader either way. This book was just a detailed review of the facts of US governments ESP programs. However, the greatest let down about this book compared to Jacobsen's other books is that unlike in her other books, there is no real definitive evidence that the research topic really exists. This hasn't been a problem in Jacobsen's other books as they are about well defined topics or institutions which have become declassified. This book follows that general narrative but the topic itself is up for debate, not only by the reader but the people involved in the story itself with testimony by former remote viewers, physics, magicians, scientists, and government officials. Some of which are true believers, some are confidence men/women, and some skeptics. If you are a fan of Jacobsen, interested in ESP, or a fan of detailed investigations of declassified programs, this is a good addition to your library.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Jeremy on 20-04-17

Very Dissapointed - favorite author messes up

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This book is scattershot and unscientific. Jacobsen seems to have run out of ideas and she's really taken a very uncritical look at pseudoscience, clearly swayed by the pseudo-scientists more than the scientists.

Would you ever listen to anything by Annie Jacobsen again?

Yes, of course. She usually does solid work, but this book was a miss for me.

Which scene was your favorite?

Scene? There aren't really scenes in a non-fiction book. I guess I like the factual and historical information, but I'm really not a fan of Uri Geller and his frauds.

Could you see Phenomena being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No. I really couldn't. There are way too many characters, and the plot jumps around.

Any additional comments?

Usually Annie Jacobsen is a historical journalist, this time it seems like she ran out of ideas...

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6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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