Keller Media Blog

Dey St: HarperCollins. Jun. 2017. 416p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780062484178. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062484185. SCI

O’Connell (To Be a Machine) examines astrophysicist and forensic investigator J. Allen Hynek’s trajectory from UFO skeptic to believer. In 1949, Hynek was given a contract with the U.S. Air Force to work with Project Sign, the first of three UFO studies, and to distinguish which unidentified flying objects were simply of natural causation. Hynek separated the science from fiction, slowly providing a more socially acceptable platform for discussing the subject. Among his greatest achievements were the founding of the Center for UFO Studies in 1973 and the invention of the cataloging tool named the “Close Encounters Scale,” after which the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was named. O’Connell succeeds in bringing Hynek to the forefront of the field of astronomy and analyzing his life’s work. Unlike Hynek’s The Hynek UFO Report, O’Connell’s more vibrant title doesn’t stop at dry scientific facts but also explores the social impact of Hynek’s studies. VERDICT Scholastic and casual readers will find this fact-packed biography informative and enjoyable; highly recommended for school science departments. —Bonnie Parker, Southern Crescent Technical Coll., GA

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