This is my personal list of UFO books I consider required reading for the serious UFO enthusiast or researcher. This list is by no means definitive and is continuously growing as a result of discovery and recommendations by reputable observers and researchers. Obviously I cannot recommend unread UFO books, but I will add my to-read list at the end.
These books are written by and/or pertain to the most credible of observers, those who were there to give an account during the golden age, those who despite living in the official capacity of government defied the official record and “came out” about their experience. These are the references that UFO debunkers obviously have not read.
The Report on Unidentified Objects – Edward J. Ruppelt
There is possibly no other person in history who was in a position to know more about UFOs than Edward Ruppelt, head of the Air Force’s infamous UFO study Project Blue Book and head of Project Grudge before that. Ruppelt is the originator of the term “Unidentified Flying Object” and without his involvement in the early days, there would be a great gap of knowledge in these critical years.
Due to the credibility of the man who wrote it and the incredible reports described thereby, this book is at the top of my list. It is this report that Stanton Friedman began his studies, and there is no wonder why he became obsessed with ufology thereafter.
There are two editions of this report: the first edition written in ’56 is the one I recommend. The second revised 1960 edition is rightly controversial because many claim the Air Force pressured Ruppelt into adding the las t three chapters which totally contradict the body of the original. Ruppelt died of a heart attack shortly after the printing of second edition.
The Hynek UFO Report – J. Allen Hynek
A contemporary of Ruppelt, Dr. J. Allen Hynek was involved in Project Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book as chief science advisor, associate of the Robertson Panel, a doctor of science in astrophysics, and astronomer. Highly skeptical of the phenomenon in the early days, by the 60’s Hynek began to speak out about the Air Force’s position and of the blatant cover-up.
Hynek knew that Blue Book was the “official” or unclassified version of reports and that a cover-up had taken place by the Air Force. By ’78, Hynek had become so endeared and respected that he was honored a lecture to the United Nations on the science of UFOs.
While this report is a bit more technical and dryer by today’s standards, it’s a critical work to understanding the methods of science used to discriminate, analyze, and catalog UFO reports and the manner in which to think about the body of evidence provided to UFO investigators. If you enjoy this one, I also recommend Hynek’s UFO Experience.
Firestorm – Ann Druffel
Ann Druffel’s defining biography of Dr. James McDonald, in addition to illuminating the history of ufology, this page-turner paints a darker picture about the nature of UFO secrecy and the lengths government will go to keep that secret. Through an intense amount of research, Druffel places the reader in the 50’s and 60’s like no other UFO book, which is exactly where you need to be to understand the reality of the government’s reaction to the UFO problem.
Dr. McDonald was a physicist who’s work in meteorology pulled him into the UFO field after he and his associates witnessed unexplainable observations. He interviewed over 500 witnesses and uncovered many official documents. He also went before Congress during the UFO hearings of ’68. To get a flavor for McDonald’s intense research, take a listen to his talk given to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in which he presents the evidence and blasts the Official Condon Report (Carl Sagan introduces):
The UFO FBI CIA Connection – Dr. Bruce Maccabee & Stan Friedman
Ever wonder where the pop-culture “X-Files” moniker comes from? Well, thanks to Dr. Bruce Maccabee’s seminal research into the FBI and Air Force files, we know that “Flying Discs: Security Matter-X” was the official program name for UFO-related matters, as provided in official government documents. This invaluable UFO book provides the evidence necessary to draw the conclusions that UFOs are real, and, controversially, that flying saucers have been recovered by the United States government.
One of the more controversial discoveries in this great book is President (then FBI director) J. Edgar Hoover’s hand-written response “I would do it but before agreeing to it we must insist upon full access to discs recovered. For instance in the LA case the Army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination.” (document)
Witness to Roswell – Thomas J. Carey & Donald R. Schmitt
The Roswell crash is certainly the most infamous UFO event in history. Of course it shows up in pop culture and invigorates the public imagination about extraterrestrials, but don’t allow this to impair your mind of the facts presented, facts that make this is the definitive book on the greatest human event in history.
I debated about whether to add this to this list simply because it is so controversial amongst even the liberal UFO crowd, however I don’t care. This is a must-read for those interested in the facts of Roswell, and after reading it thoroughly I don’t believe any honest mind can ignore the mountain of evidence.
Inside the Black Vault – John Greenewald Jr.
“I have dealt with nearly every government secret imaginable. And through collecting millions of pages, I have realized that the subject of UFOs is one of the most easily proven conspiracies and blatant cover-ups out of it all.”John Greenewald, Jr.
Renown researcher John Greenewald Jr. started submitting FOIA requests at the ripe age of 15. I regard him as the most important living researcher in the field of ufology today. With the most government documents revealed by his efforts, and a commitment to details, his perspective is invaluable to the field.
This work runs the gamut of the UFO field – Roswell, Blue Book, etc. Because Greenewald is a stickler for documentation to back up claims (obviously this is a good thing), I recommend this as a starter book for skeptics and principally to the UFO debunkers.
Top Secret / Majic – Stanton Friedman
Certainly the most more controversial book on this list to conservative ufologists, it was also written by probably the most prolific and popular ufologist of all-time, Stanton T. Friedman. The original investigator on Roswell, Stan believed the infamous Majestic-12 documents were totally legitimate until his death in 2019 (He also regards some MJ12 documents are fraudulent). To understand ufology in the late 70’s and 80’s this book is necessary, for it encapsulates an era of research that, in my opinion, cannot go ignored.
Even for the major skeptics of ufology, there is no denying this book discloses much of the secrecy apparatus of the CIA and Air Force on the UFO issue. I have added a recommended video below of Friedman explaining in detail the reasons he believes the MJ-12 documents are undeniably authentic.
The Presidents and UFOs – Larry Holcombe
Larry Holcombe is a non-ufologist who in retirement decided to write the about the amazing history of UFOs, filled with cases that reflect, as the title suggests, what the presidents had to deal with in the cover-up.
Certainly the most controversial on this list, The Presidents and UFOs is a real page-turner and adds a haunting perspective including a UFO connection to the death of President Kennedy and an ongoing UFO connection to every president.
I’m partial to this book because it was the first book I read on the subject, and I consider it a great starter as it provides plenty of reference material.
Follows is a list of UFO books on my “To-Read” list, recommended to me or discovered independently (if you have recommendations, please tweet me @UfoIssue):
UFOs & Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites – Robert Hastings
Strange Skies: Pilot Encounters with UFOs – Jerome Clark
Clear Intent: The Government Coverup of the UFO Experience – J. Allen Hynek
Above Top Secret – Timothy Good
Forbidden Science Series – Jaques Vallee
The Invisible College – Jaques Vallee
The UFOs are Real… and Here’s the Proof – Edward Walters & Bruce Maccabee
Crash At Corona – Don Berliner & Stanton Friedman
The Day After Roswell – Phillip J. Corso
UFOs and the National Security State Series – Richard Dolan
UFOs: Generals, Pilots, & Government Officials Go on the Record – Leslie Kean & John Podesta
Mirage Men: A Journey in Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs – Mark Pilkington
The UFO People: A Curious Culture – MJ Banias
Managing Magic: The Government’s UFO Disclosure Plan – Grant Cameron
An Alien Harvest – Linda Moulton Howe