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Coming-of-age tales cross so many familiar thresholds and genres, it’s hard to imagine one of those storylines breaking new ground. Yet, that’s sort of what happened last month, with the release of John Greenewald’s Inside the Black Vault: The Government’s UFO Secrets Revealed. It’s not written as a memoir – in fact, it has nothing to do with the bittersweet fuzzies of growing up – but it most definitely is about coming to terms with one of adulthood’s peculiar institutional mysteries. In this case, of course, that would be the enduring embargo of the greatest secret of our age.

If you’re reading De Void, then you’re already familiar with Greenewald’s story, about how he started bugging “the government” to declassify documents when he was a teenager more than 20 years ago, and how he turned his Black Vault website into one of the biggest repositories of federal paper in cyberspace. His first-person accounting compresses that that journey into 169 pages. Hopefully, for a new generation of readers, it’ll do for them what Clear Intent, by Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood, did for me 30 years ago. Which is to say, dispelling any doubt about the serious nature of The Great Taboo by relying exclusively on FOIA-obtained records to build the case. I remember what that awakening was like so long ago; sometimes, I wonder if I’d been better off if I’d stayed asleep.

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Category: Weird Desk