I just finished reading an astonishing and remarkable book, The Day After Roswell. Written by Col. Philip J. Corso, a retired US Army officer about his own experiences with the Roswell incident and its aftermath, this book is a readable “inside” account. On July 1, 1947, an alien spacecraft crashed into the New Mexico desert outside Roswell, New Mexico. US Army personnel from nearby 509th airfield retrieved the debris as well as the bodies of small alien creatures.

Within hours the military hierarchy began coverup stories of what had happened and what had actually been retrieved in the desert. That cover up has been accepted and believed to this day. A few people who knew the story have begun to relate their memories as they grow older, before they die. Such is the case with this book. Corso wrote these memoirs in 1996, and died within a year of its publication.

I don’t think anybody today actually believes the cover stories initially provided by the military, but there is still tons of speculation of what actually was found in 1947. And of course, the implications of that find are still being debated. So much disinformation has arisen that it is very difficult to sort out fact from speculation.

With his book Corso provided a huge aid to this dilemma. While he was not in New Mexico in 1947, he encountered bits and pieces of the story over his years in military intelligence. His biggest contribution to the facts of the story come from a couple years in the early 1960’s when he was stationed in the Pentagon in the R & D department under the authority of Lt. General Arthur Trudeau. Trudeau gave Corso a file cabinet which had been neglected for years. Inside this were files about the Roswell incident, and a few pieces of debris which had been recovered from the site.

What Corso was instructed to do was to research this information and to develop as much as could be gleaned for purposes of the US Army. What Corso did in most cases was to feed information into streams of R & D already occurring in order to speed up development of weapons and defense mechanisms. What resulted from this work, largely done behind the scenes, were huge leaps in the development of transistors, integrated circuits, night-vision goggles, bullet-proof material (like Kevlar), laser beams, particle-beam weapons, etc.

Along the way reading about all of this, we get a glimpse into some behind-the-scenes workings of the cold war environment in the US military. There were constant tug-of-war struggles occurring between Russia and the US. The CIA and KGB spy agencies had infiltrated each other to the extent that military higher ups would not trust their own intelligence agents. This resulted in much secrecy within various agencies within their own governments. Even the four branches of the US military would not trust one another, and kept many secrets from each other, while trying to ferret out secrets from the other branches.

Today this sounds like pure insanity. But while Corso is telling his story, it becomes clearer what the atmosphere was like through the 1950’s and 60’s. Much of the insanity of the cold war rhetoric becomes easier to understand when seen in context.

One thing which became clearer to me, something I had not been very aware of at all, was that throughout the cold war, an underlying agenda behind the arms race, the space race, the intelligence race, between Russia and the US, was their common need for defenses from alien attacks from outer space. Neither country knew exactly how much the other knew about the EBE’s (the term Corso uses for the alien creatures) and their advanced technology. Each country was afraid that the other would gain a technological advantage, and that the alien societies would see the other one as the superior power and would therefore negotiate with them rather than their own country when it came to contact and use of the Earth as a planet of interest.

Therefore, when developing weapons using the Roswell technology, always in the background was how this particular device could help in defense against EBE’s. Of course none of this could be stated publicly. When appealing for budgets from the civilian government, they had to be very circumspect when stating their arguments. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy knew fully about alien encounters and some of the technology being gleaned. But publicly, of course, they had to be careful what they said or implied.

Corso’s opinion, after retiring from the military, is that the US development of the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars” in popular perspective) under President Reagan allowed both the US and the Soviet Union to end the cold war. The SDI had implemented sufficiently advanced technology to counter the perceived threat from EBE’s. Therefore both countries could relax a bit in the race between them in areas of arms and space exploration.

I highly recommend this book! It is written with enough tech information to satisfy curiosity, but not so much as to be unreadable. I found it a very readable account of an aspect of society still largely in the shadows. The fact that it parallels my own life span makes it even more compelling. I was born within a year of the Roswell incident! All of the stuff Corso writes about has occurred within my lifetime. Having grown up in the US it helps explain a whole lot of stuff I never knew about. It broadens the perspective of my own experience.