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Phenomena

The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis
Written by: Annie Jacobsen
Narrated by: Annie Jacobsen
Length: 17 hrs and 30 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's 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

What the critics say

"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)
"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)

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  • C K
  • Fort Worth, TX USA
  • 2018-12-10

Superb

An insightful look at a complex topic. Well written and meticulously researched. Jacobsen maintains an objective stance throughout.

Well performed by the author.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • philip
  • HARAHAN, LA, United States
  • 2017-05-18

Phenomenally mediocre narration of a good book

Any additional comments?

I have listened to 3 annie jacobsen books. I listen to well over a hundred books a yr. and have come to believe that the narration is as important as the information. I have struggled through very poor narrations that has made me want to give up or nod off to sleep, but struggled through to get the story. I have also discovered with few exceptions (Malcom Gladwell being the only one that readily comes to mind) that the author make the worst narrator. I loved all three stories in the Jacobsen books, but was very put off by her breathy pronunciation, badly acted and badly paced narration. I know I could never do better, but I have heard many professional narrators that can. Please get one. I almost stopped listening several times and I'm glad I didn't, but it was a struggle. I'll have to get any other books she does on Kindle and forgo the audible. The story was worth the pain, but please try out some other options. Love the story, the narration not so much.

17 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-05-29

READING FOR YOUR BUCKET LIST

Regardless of your belief system .....everyone should read this book. The author's research and efforts are as close to flawless as one's can be.
I reccomended this book to all of those who are looking closer and around the corner of what we currently think of as "reality".........

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • RK
  • USA
  • 2017-06-11

Strong beginning and ending but sags in the middle

This was an interesting book and well researched but the anecdotal stories in the middle tend to drag on and become almost unbearably maudlin in parts. The strength of the book is in the beginning and end parts where the author talks about the post-war programs that were initiated by the government looking into these areas and the cold war aspects of the programs. It is fascinating how much money has been poured into these programs over the past few decades. The book really drags in the middle and there is far too much time spent on Uri Geller. Nothing really new is revealed but it takes up a significant chunk of the book and it appears that the author has become something of a fangirl of Uri. This story has been told over and over and the book would have benefited from a stronger editor.

The narration of this book was painful. The publisher really should have gotten someone other than the author to narrate. Dull monotone voice that required me to speed up the narration just to get through it. I might have enjoyed this more if they had a more dynamic narrator.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Bob
  • 2019-07-07

Great Author, equally skilled narrator.

I first learned of Annie Jacobsen on the Joe Rogan podcast. After the podcast I immediately bought two of her audio books, Area 51 and Phenomena. Both were excellent. I just bought two others. While the content is excellent, her narration brings it to life. Thank you Joe Rogan for having her as a guest, thank you Annie Jacobsen for your great writings and narration.

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  • Branden
  • Centurion
  • 2019-04-23

In Depth Documentary

A very good listen - persevere through it, sometimes its a little "heavy", but an extremely interesting insight into the covert world that is still ongoing.

What amazed me throughout the story was the closed mindedness, conservatism to anything out of the norm.

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  • Max
  • United States
  • 2018-09-05

Unique, groundbreaking, extraordinary!

I am very impressed and inspired. I have studied the subject quite extensively and this study has much new material and insights. The author's previous book on DARPA history was excellent too and was served a foundation for this book.

A few afterthought comments:

It is rather obvious from the book, that the closing of government research on remote viewing was done only to hide it and move to the private sector.

Same people seem to be involved except the government escaped from the scrutiny.

I find it notable that after all wonderful research, the author still is a nonbeliever, and describes an interest in channeling and aliens as a downfall of Puharich and someone else.

Also, the author fails to see that the interest of remote viewing in alien bases was practical and likely served the customers from above the chain of command. It is only that some viewers like Smith were not informed, they didn't need to know.

In summary, the fact that the author is a thorough nonbeliever made the book even better, we can trust the material even more since it often goes against the author's preference.

In the book, we observe a repeated pattern: as soon as research is criticized by the public, the project is closed, renamed, and moved to another agency. I say, most likely, it wasn't closed, but was made more secret and moved.
Most likely, the civilians and whistleblowers were not informed about its continuation.


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  • Kent
  • 2018-08-17

enjoyed

the author is very thorough and I respect that. I have bought all her books. it might've changed me from a goat to a sheep.

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  • Charlie P.
  • 2018-08-06

Professional view on this topic

It is a very methodical review of this interesting area. I think it was a very professional and balanced description. It will be interesting to have a follow up of the latest developments in the present, and what is the future outlook.

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  • Max Casey
  • 2018-07-20

Annie does it again

I really enjoyed this book. Annie Jacobsen seems to always deliver. It’s a long book but very well researched and a very interesting story.