'The Roswell Legacy'
by Jesse Marcel Jr. and Linda Marcel
Subtitled: "The Untold Story of the First Military Officer at the 1947 Crash Site"
2008, New Page Books
I found this book fascinating for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is an account about the world's most famous UFO case, spoken directly from the horse's mouth. The main author, Jesse Marcel Jr., is the son of Major Jesse Marcel, who was the intelligence officer for the 509th (nuclear) Bomb Group stationed at Roswell. Both father and son handled and examined the wreckage taken from Mac Brazel's farmland in July 1947. Their testimonies are central to this complex case, and this book sets the record straight on a number of issues arising from those testimonies.
Secondly, 'The Roswell Legacy' explores the impact that the case has had on three generations of the Marcel family. This account is from the heart, honest and open. If the testimonies have been in the public domain for some years, then this aspect of the book is the untold story of the aftermath of Roswell. It becomes crystal clear that Major Jesse Marcel was an outstanding officer, before, throughout and after the incident. However, his belief in, and commitment to, the armed forces that he served for so many years became tarnished as he became embroiled in a government and military cover-up that partially used him as a fall-guy. His loyalty was recognised, through subsequent promotion, but the ensuing damage to his self-regard was a personal legacy that adversely affected him for the rest of his life.
Thirdly, the book reflects the changes in our culture spanning the six decades post-Roswell. Major Marcel's generation lived in a cultural climate after World War II that put a high onus on loyalty, secrecy and duty. Jesse Marcel Jr's generation is more questioning, inquisitive and cynical, wanting to get to the bottom of things. The current generation view the Roswell Incident as a cultural phenomenon - the source of material for movies, festivals and talk shows - and consider Roswell cool, rather than a paradigm-shifting shock to our cosy belief systems. It seems as though a large percentage of the population is acceptant of the likelihood of ET life, and visitations to our world, and we are simply waiting for the day when the news will finally break. That's if the control-freaks who run this planet ever decide to let it go.
The book also takes a long, hard look at the government attempts to kill the Roswell story. It thoroughly debunks the Mogul balloon theory. It rightly picks holes in the 213-page report published in 1997, entitled "The Roswell Report: Case Closed." Here's what the book says:
"The report contends that what crashed was not an extraterrestrial craft, despite the fact that my father's and my testimony does not support such a contention, and that evidence by a number of credible sources serves to refute such a conclusion. Unfortunately, the government chose to edit out any evidence that did not support its desired conclusion, and acknowledges only evidence and statements that fit within the report's intended premise." [p76]
If you put Roswell in the dock, and used the evidence contained in this book as part of the testimony supplied by the actual witnesses, then I am quite sure that any jury would throw the government's case out on its ear. There is no way that the material described by Jesse Marcel Jr. was from a 1940s weather balloon, no matter how classified. The military were seen to go to some considerable lengths to mop up all the evidence of this exotic material, and shut the story down. They managed this successfully for 30 years, until the inevitable began to happen: the witnesses themselves retired, relaxed, and began to talk about it. Now the story is fading into history. So much so, in fact, that my son recently covered Roswell in his high school history class. The witnesses are mostly dead now, and the evidence is likely to be so well buried in the government's top secret archives that the people who know how to get to it are probably also all dead now.
Indeed, Jesse Marcel Jr. describes in depth an encounter he had with a government official in Washington who was quietly looking into the cover-up (which he admitted was a reality). Despite the cloak-and-dagger approach, one can only assume the poor man got nowhere. The trail is 60-years cold, after all. But what remains is the testimony of the many, many witnesses and the fact that for a short while the world's only nuclear bomb group publicly disclosed its discovery of a crashed flying saucer. It was no coincidence that this object was found near Roswell, although the cause of the crash remains a mystery (a lightning strike?).
There are also undoubtedly excellent reasons why the government saw fit to cover this all up in the 1940s. But do those reasons really still apply today? Personally, I think the cover-up is a self-perpetuating operation which has become lost in its own labyrinth of secrecy. Jesse Marcel Jr. agrees, likening it to that famous last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the museum official wheels the crate containing the Ark of the Covenant into a massive warehouse full of thousands of other wooden crates.
'The Roswell Legacy' is well-written. The authors come across well, albeit quite 'folksy' at times. It is said that the American people vote for the candidate they would like to most socialise with at a ballgame or barbeque. In this category, the Marcels come across well, winning you over with their honesty and integrity. Jesse Marcel Jr. is a medical ENT doctor who served for decades with the Montana National Guard, and recently had a tour of Iraq, despite his advancing years. He is, by any standard, a hero. His late father perhaps even more so. The account of what they experienced therefore demands our undivided attention.
Book review by Andy Lloyd, 30th October 2004
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