As a nonfiction expansion of his novel 2011 Journal of a UFO Investigator, David Halperin’s Intimate Alien is at once autobiographical and encyclopedic, offering personal reflections and a wide survey of the field of ufology through the carefully constructed lens of a scholar of religion. As such, he takes a hermeneutical approach to the phenomenon, asking “What do they mean?” rather than “What are they?” or “Where do they come from?” (3). In the wake of Carl Jung’s thesis in Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky (1959), Halperin seeks to make sense of the “hidden” human story of the UFO: “The UFO mystery is…the mystery of us” (8).

Intimate Alien is divided into three parts. The first part intertwines Halperin’s youthful interest in UFOs in the 1960s with the nascent but developing mythology fueled by Gray Barker’s They Knew Too Much About Flying...

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