With the way they’ve been in the news, UFOs have started to arouse some curiosity. Since I’ve been reading about the culture of the Hudson, Linda Zimmermann’s Hudson Valley UFOs caught my eye. I hadn’t realized that the book was essentially self-published. There are legitimate reasons for self-publishing, primarily that established presses can be quite standoffish. What you find in book form is largely determined by publishers who decide what will or won’t merit their attention. Self-publication comes with its own set of problems, including marketing and, as I written before, lack of editing. Zimmermann’s book is quite interesting but could have used some editorial attention. It does aid credibility. Subtitled Startling Eyewitness Accounts from 1909 to the Present, the book is essentially that, collated accounts, some in their own words, some retold.
As became clear shortly after starting the book, this is a second volume for a previous book that I hadn’t heard of. There is a fascination reading such accounts. Many can be dismissed and each should be treated with some skepticism. The thing is, there are so many reports from this area that it’s difficult to jettison the lot. People with nothing to gain, withholding their names, see things in the sky they can’t explain. As Zimmermann points out, Project Blue Book didn’t help with its prosaic and often bizarre explanations that are harder to believe than the eyewitness accounts, many of them from Air Force personnel. What’s emerged in recent years—some would argue since the end of the Second World War—is that the government actively advocated ridicule and intimidation, perhaps because of secret weapons testing. This policy has made the truth behind UFOs difficult to excavate.
Books like Zimmermann’s have their place in collecting information. Civilians, however, generally lack the resources necessary for analysis. Governments worldwide have recently been coming out of the closet. They too have been treating this seriously while telling everyone simply to ignore it. People are curious by nature and we live in an apparently infinite universe. Strange things happen and ridicule is one of the surest ways to shut down serious discussion. There’s quite a bit of information in this book, and some of it could help point to the long associations of the Hudson Valley with the unusual. Mainstream publishers are beginning to lose their shyness about the topic and we as a species don’t know as much about this universe as we think we do. As long as we talk about what we see, this will remain a topic of interest.