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I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World [Hardcover]

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Item description for I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World by Trevor Paglen...

They're on the shoulder of all military personnel: patches that symbolize what their unit does. But what if that's top secret?

“A fresh approach to secret government. It shows that these secret programs have their own culture, vocabulary and even sense of humor.”
—Steven Aftergood, The Federation of American Scientists

In a work that combines ingenious journalism and bizarrely encoded art, author/photographer/investigator Trevor Paglen uncovers sixty never-before-seen-in-public military patches that reveal a bizarre secret world of the American military. Paglen investigates classified weapons projects and intelligence operations by examining their own imagery and jargon, disclosing new facts about important classified military units—here known by peculiar names (“Goat Suckers,” “None of Your Fucking Business,” “Tastes Like Chicken”) and illustrated with occult symbols and ridiculous cartoons. The precisely photographed patches—worn by military personnel working on classified missions, such as those at the legendary Area 51—reveal much about a strange and eerie world about which little was previously known.

The author has also assembled an extensive and readable guide, based on extensive interviews with military sources and government records, to the patches included here, making this volume perhaps the best available survey of the military's black world—a $27 billion industry that has quietly grown by almost 50 percent since 9/11.
"A fascinating set of shoulder patches designed for the Pentagon's Black Ops programs."
—Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report

“A glimpse of [the Pentagon's] dark world through a revealing lens—patches—the kind worn on military uniforms.... The book offers not only clues into the nature of the secret programs, but also a glimpse of zealous male bonding among the presumed elite of the military-industrial complex. The patches often feel like fraternity pranks gone ballistic.”
—William Broad, The New York Times

“Gives readers a peek into the shadows ... Department of Defense spokesman Bob Mehal told Newsweek that it ‘would not be prudent to comment on what patches did or did not represent classified units.' That's OK. Some mysteries are more fun when they stay unsolved.”
—Karen Pinchin, Newsweek

"An art book that presents peculiar shoulder patches created for the weird and top secret programs funded by the Pentagon's black budget... an achievement."
—Timothy Buckwalter, The San Francisco Chonicle

"I was fascinated... [Paglen] has assembled about 40 colorful patch insignia from secret, military 'black' programs that are hardly ever discussed in public. He has plenty of regalia from the real denizens of Area 51."
—Alex Beam, The Boston Globe

"An impressive collection."
—Justin Rood, ABC News

"The iconography of the United States military. Not the mainstream military, with its bars and ribbons and medals, but the secret or 'black projects' world, which may or may not involve contacting aliens, building undetectable spy aircraft, and experimenting with explosives that could make atomic bombs look like firecrackers. Here, mysterious characters and cryptic symbols hint at intrigue much deeper than rank, company, and unit."
—UTNE Reader

"Of course, issuing patches for a covert operation sounds like a joke...but truth be told, these days everything is branded. Military symbols are frequently replete with heraldic imagery—some rooted in history, others based on contemporary popular arts that feature comic characters—but these enigmatic dark-op images, in some cases probably designed by the participants themselves, are more personal, and also more disturbing, than most."
—Steven Heller, The New York Times Book Review
TREVOR PAGLEN is a geographer by training, and an expert on clandestine military installations. He leads expeditions to the secret bases of the American West and is the author, with A.C. Thompson, of Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights, which the New York Times praised as “the real thing . . . and not on the evening news.”

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Item Specifications...

Pages   136
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.4" Width: 6" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2007
Publisher   Melville House
ISBN  1933633328  
ISBN13  9781933633329  

Availability  0 units.

More About Trevor Paglen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Trevor Paglen is an internationally recognized artist, writer, and scholar working across multiple disciplines in a variety of media. Among his books are "Blank Spots on the Map", "Torture Taxi", and "I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me". His art is in the permanent collections of numerous museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

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Product Categories

1Books > Bargain Books
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General

Reviews - What do customers think about I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World?

Unless your interested in Military patches this book is not for you  Aug 22, 2008
This book is a picture book of clandestine military patches and a short review of there meaning and location.It is interesting but lacks alot of story.
Quck fun read  Jul 24, 2008
Enjoyable look at the various military "skunkworks" projects that go on beneath the public surface. The explanations, especially translations from Latin, provided for each of the project or group patches are a bit variable. Some are fairly detailed (but almost always shorter than half a page), while some are very superficial at best. Book would have been even better if it dealt with similar now-declassified projects in the Army or Navy; they must exist. Virtually all the examples cited are from the Air Force. But overall an illuminating vignette about how people who work on these projects view themselves - usually in a humorous, irreverent manner.
Good pictures, little commentary, no organization  Jul 10, 2008
This is a nicely bound book with a patch embedded into the front cover. On the inside, it's mostly pictures with light commentary, so it's mostly a one-time read with little reference potential. The content is mostly speculative, and the patches aren't organized by symbology. I would have liked to see some patches from less secretive units using the same symbology for comparison.

It's a nice conversation starter, though.
Amusing and entertaining little book  May 28, 2008
If you are at all interested in the military, insignias, secret projects, or just good conversational pieces, buy this book. Then take it for what it's intended. The author doesn't promise a comprehensive or even consistent summary of military patches or black ops; he's picked some of the more interesting emblems and thrown a few program tidbits in where he could. It's surface level insight into the secret world of black ops, and if we all knew about it, it wouldn't be very secret or black, would it? The photos are great, the back stories are interesting, and we enjoyed it so much I'm buying more as gifts for my the history/military buffs in my family (i.e., all the guys.)
Not Revelatory  May 25, 2008
Although some of the patches are visually interesting, the book reveals no secrets. A quirky disappoint that has gotten a lot of press.

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