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O.V.N.I - la fin du secret

Book by Robert Roussel

Belfond publisher, 283 pages, 1978 (French only).

This book by Robert Roussel is one of most interesting among the ufology books published in France. It is not enough to give a complete panorama of the UFO issue in general, but it gives reliable and highly valuable parts of the big picture. Here is why I think that.

When a large majority of the French ufology books present sighting reports only when they have no commonplace explanation, Roussel's book of Robert Roussel exposes just as many cases with commonplace explanations than cases that have no commonplace explanation. Far from making the dead end on confusions and errors, he exposes them also. It is something only too rare, and it is hardly astonishing that nowadays many people think that all that was seen in the sky and was not immediately understood is an extraterrestrial spaceship or heavens know what sort of mystical secret weapon or other so-called paranormal phenomenon.

Whereas the sighting reports on UFOS noted by the gendarmerie or the French Air Force are still kept under secrecy rules, Robert Roussel managed to reach such documents in the Seventies, and gives a significant sampling of those. That was an excellent step, following that of Jean-Claude Bourret [1], but it remained alas rare because at the present time, the fashion is more to denounce practices of "secrecy" and "disinformation" in the USA while being unaware in an hemiplegic's way of the absence of laws of access to the information in our own country, practically the last country that still keeps UFO documents under the lid of military secrecy. Since Jean-Claude Bourret and Robert Roussel, only few people worried about this situation, and the witnesses statement gathered by the Gendarmerie that they exhumed, alas sleep in their long-forgotten books, and beyond officially noted testimonies, the documents concerning the work done within GEPAN then SEPRA are still kept unpublished [2]. But at that point of the French UFO history, it seemed like if you has a "name", you would get access to some of the archive.

The official documents given by Robert Roussel are not only interesting as testimonies of UFO sightings, but also because they are telling something about the manner in which French official authorities treated the matter, summarized by Roussel as follows: "nobody is denying the UFO reality anymore, and the officials less than whoever. And yet, these circles act as if it were all pure fantasy."

Robert Roussel assigned himself a realistic and useful objective: whereas the fashion today is to write long elaborations defending a certain "theory of everything" on the UFOS ("UFOS are this", "UFOS are that", he knows well that the serious readers and the serious ufologists hardly have the need to hear again this or that theory. That would have been "one more UFO book." Instead, Robert Roussel gives the result of a journalistic investigation over some three years which enabled him to provide unreleased documents and testimonies, much more useful than the rehash of a theory or far-out speculations.

Is thus exposed the infamous "Concorde affair" and its rather burlesque episodes in which a noted "skeptic" tried to use this finally explained case in order to ridicule ufologists. Also exposed, the doubtful Le Thillot video, a story Robert Roussel knows much more than others.

The cases presented are primarily French, with a particular accent on the UFO flaps of 1975, 1976 and 1977. There again the work is much more useful than that of a thousandth book on classical US sightings already well-known. If you did not acquire collections of French ufology magazines back then, you will find in this book an excellent outline of many sightings characteristic of the time in France.

The presentation of the topic of UFO secrecy in France is quite something else than the extremes "there is nothing in the file" ensured by some and the woowoos of others about "secret alien bases in France" by others. For example, a 1976 interview by Francine Buchy of Claude Levy, then director of the CNES - our small French NASA counterpart - shows the state of affairs at this year. "Who studies UFOs scientifically in France?" "- Nobody, to my knowledge", answers Claude Lévy, adding simply that there is one Claude Poher who tackles the issue, and granting that "if you wanted to study the scientific problem, very important means would be needed" and that there is "no scientific laboratory willing to take interest in UFOs" in France.

To me, this book is a goldmine of information and should be on the racks of any ufologist. It will usefully be supplemented of its follow-up book of 1994 [3].

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