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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

Critic reviews

"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, starred review)
"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, starred review)

What members say

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Interesting material

I was familiar with much of this but it was very interesting to hear the origins of ESP studies. Well-researched.
However the narration was rather irritating, staccato and with continual mid-pronunciations of names and places. Almost made me give up or turn to the printed copy.

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  • jebidia24
  • 06-07-17

Interesting investigation, not Jacobsen's best

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed this book even though it took me a long time to finish. I was aware of the US governments research into ESP but this book went to another level of research. The author did a good job maintaining an objective narrative, not openly trying to sway the reader either way. This book was just a detailed review of the facts of US governments ESP programs. However, the greatest let down about this book compared to Jacobsen's other books is that unlike in her other books, there is no real definitive evidence that the research topic really exists. This hasn't been a problem in Jacobsen's other books as they are about well defined topics or institutions which have become declassified. This book follows that general narrative but the topic itself is up for debate, not only by the reader but the people involved in the story itself with testimony by former remote viewers, physics, magicians, scientists, and government officials. Some of which are true believers, some are confidence men/women, and some skeptics. If you are a fan of Jacobsen, interested in ESP, or a fan of detailed investigations of declassified programs, this is a good addition to your library.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • 20-04-17

Very Dissapointed - favorite author messes up

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This book is scattershot and unscientific. Jacobsen seems to have run out of ideas and she's really taken a very uncritical look at pseudoscience, clearly swayed by the pseudo-scientists more than the scientists.

Would you ever listen to anything by Annie Jacobsen again?

Yes, of course. She usually does solid work, but this book was a miss for me.

Which scene was your favorite?

Scene? There aren't really scenes in a non-fiction book. I guess I like the factual and historical information, but I'm really not a fan of Uri Geller and his frauds.

Could you see Phenomena being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No. I really couldn't. There are way too many characters, and the plot jumps around.

Any additional comments?

Usually Annie Jacobsen is a historical journalist, this time it seems like she ran out of ideas...

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-05-17

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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  • philip
  • 18-05-17

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Rulon
  • 07-06-18

Best non fiction book ever

I loved this book, it changed my sense of reality. It is thoroughly documented and assembled in a way that the reader can make sense of a complex history involving hundreds of people over a seventy year span.

I suspect that the author was very skeptical as she started putting the history into order, but eventually became overwhelmed by the evidence. She takes you along for the ride in a brilliant and beautifully written history. She made a believer out of me!

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  • chris
  • 17-04-18

i love listening to Annie Jacobsen narration

What made the experience of listening to Phenomena the most enjoyable?

her voice and the way in witch she tells the storey

What did you like best about this story?

thare ware a few please witch gave me goose bumbs but defiantly the part in witch the guy who went out in a storm to go surfing and left his body in order to escape the pain and save his wife

What does Annie Jacobsen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

her amazing story telling ability

If you could give Phenomena a new subtitle, what would it be?

na

Any additional comments?

amzing book

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  • Karen
  • 09-04-18

Fascinating

I recommend this read to anyone interested in paranormal phenomena.

The narration was ok, but please, authors, hire professional narration. It's the difference between ok and awesome.

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  • Paola B.
  • 02-02-18

Fantastic book

I enjoyed reading this book. The author is again great in her research and the way she tell the story. It was an awakening experience. Thanks.

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  • Jeffrey
  • 10-10-17

Annie Hits Another Home Run!

As with her earlier books, Annie Jacobsen's Phenomena is a virtuoso performance, replete with deep research, smart analysis, psychological complexity, and superb narrative skill. There are a few passages that unsettled me, and I've been studying the paranormal and teaching a college course on it for several years now. Things happened during Uri Geller's testing sessions with scientists that had me checking my closets with a flashlight. I won't say more--you have to experience it yourself and I wouldn't want to spoil it for you. Annie reads her own Audible books, and I happen to love her voice: slightly breathy, deliberate, and--I might as well say it--actually kinda sexy. Read or listen; whether you're a serious investigator or an open-minded skeptic, you will not be disappointed!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Barbara Nash
  • 04-09-17

Fascinating stuff

I loved learning about the government's studies of paranormal phenomena. If I have any criticism, it's that sometimes less is more. The author was clearly in love with the subject matter and I appreciated her passion, but the amount of detail and the number of examples made it drag in places. Still, I'm very glad I listened.