I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me

I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me : Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World

3.94 (295 ratings by Goodreads)
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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 137 pages
  • 154.94 x 190.5 x 10.16mm | 340.19g
  • Melville House Publishing
  • Brooklyn, United States
  • English
  • 1933633328
  • 9781933633329
  • 1,126,904

Review quote

"A fascinating set of shoulder patches designed for the Pentagon's Black Ops programs."
--Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report Link
"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," April 1, 2008 Link
"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 likefirecrackers. 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"
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About Trevor Paglen

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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Rating details

295 ratings
3.94 out of 5 stars
5 33% (96)
4 36% (105)
3 27% (79)
2 4% (12)
1 1% (3)
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