Discover more from Doomsday Scenario
Coming Soon: My new UFO book (and the challenge coin that never was)
Anyone who has been following the news recently knows that UFOs are having a moment—from the Chinese spy balloon earlier this year to the summer’s congressional “UFO hearing” to NASA’s appointment last month of a new “UFO director.”
The “modern” era of UFO fascination began in 2017 with some blockbuster reporting in the New York Times and POLITICO about an until-then secret UFO study effort at the Pentagon that had been spearheaded by Sen. Harry Reid. And I remember the precise moment I decided to write my next book on UFOs—or what the government now calls UAPs, unidentified aerial phenomena: It was a December 2020 interview by US intelligence veteran John Brennan—a career CIA official who headed the agency and also served as the White House homeland security advisor under President Obama—where he told his interviewer, Tyler Cowen, that he was just as befuddled by the recent UFO reports as anyone.
“I’ve seen some of those videos from Navy pilots, and I must tell you that they are quite eyebrow-raising when you look at them,” he said, notably, tip-toeing a step or two beyond a simple denial, saying in a roundabout way that he thought the full truth might still be elusive. “Some of the phenomena we’re going to be seeing continues to be unexplained and might, in fact, be some type of phenomenon that is the result of something that we don’t yet understand and that could involve some type of activity that some might say constitutes a different form of life.”
The comments caught my attention because I figured that John Brennan, who I’ve covered and interview and Trump-era-controversies aside know as a sober, thoughtful, and respected intelligence leader, didn’t have too many “mysteries” left in his life. He’d spent two decades at the top of the US intelligence community and as CIA Director and White House Homeland Security Advisor was certainly in a position to know the answer to almost any random question that piqued his interest.
If he was puzzled by UFOs, maybe it was worth digging into the subject more.
I’m excited to share with you the result of that research—my new book, out next month, UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government's Search for Alien Life Here—and Out There, a history that intertwines the military’s study and hunt for UFOs on Earth with the emerging science and astronomical efforts known as the “Search for Extraterrestrial Life” out in the universe. It’s a pretty wild story, from Roswell and secret Pentagon programs through alien abductions and the largely-forgotten brief blip in the 1990s when Bill Clinton announced that NASA thought it had found evidence of life on Mars, and features a colorful and fascinating cast of characters from astronomer Carl Sagan to the conspiracist who inspired Alex Jones as a talk radio host. It’s a book that actually shares a lot of DNA with RAVEN ROCK, my Doomsday history, if you enjoyed that.
But you don’t have to take my word for it: Publisher’s Weekly has said that the book “is loads of fun, and Graff’s agnosticism has the potential to appeal to skeptics and believers alike. It’s a fascinating dive down the rabbit hole.”
The book will be published on November 14th, and I’ll have more to say about it in the weeks ahead, but for today I just wanted to share a fun preorder promotion we’re doing.
We had a lot of fun launching my WATERGATE book alongside some Nixon campaign buttons, and so wanted to do something similarly fun for the launch of UFO that honored PROJECT BLUE BOOK and its two predecessors, PROJECT SIGN and PROJECT GRUDGE, which were the US military’s semi-secret UFO program from 1940s through the end of the 1960s.
PROJECT BLUE BOOK predated the era where military units created the commemorative tokens known as “challenge coins.”1 So for the launch of UFO we went ahead and made the PROJECT BLUE BOOK challenge coin that never was—and anyone who preorders UFO through the local independent bookstore here in my hometown of Burlington, Vermont, will get one alongside a signed/inscribed copy:
The front of the coin marks the US government’s historic UFO program, alongside the historic crest of the Air Force Intelligence Center, known as ATIC, which was where PROJECT SIGN, GRUDGE, and BLUE BOOK were originally based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
The back of the coin, below, shows the mockup of the Air Force’s attempt to actually build a flying saucer in the 1950s, an effort known as PROJECT 1794, which I trace in the book too. (Fun trivia: The design schematic and logo of PROJECT 1794 are the imagery on the cover of the book too.)
Preorder the UFO book here; all preorders will receive a signed/inscribed copy and one of the PROJECT BLUE BOOK challenge coins.
Lots more strange and fun UFO history to come—including some thoughts on where I come down about the possibility of extraterrestrials! But for now, if you’re interested, here’s the preorder link again!
PS: This was a generous and kind profile of me that Publisher’s Weekly recently published, tied to the book launch.
PPS: The image at the top of this post comes from a Sputnik-era effort, known as OPERATION MOONWATCH, that was run by J. Allen Hynek, one of the main characters of the book, who coined the now-famous nomenclature and phrase of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”