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Betty and Barney Hill Captured

Betty Hill alien by artist David Baker (c) University of New Hampshire Special Collections as seen on SeacoastNH.com with permissionSEACOAST BOOKS

The release of the book "Interrupted Journey" in the mid-1960s turned Portsmouth, NH social worker Betty Hill and her husband Barney into the world’s most famous UFO "abductees." After Barney’s death in 1969, Betty's reputation faded, but not her fame. In this new book Betty’s niece Kathleen Marden attempts to set the record straight.

 

 

SEE ALSO: The Grounding of Betty Hill  

Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience
By Stanton T. Friedman and Kathleen Marden
New Page Books
Paperback, 319 pages, $19.95

I rarely read a book from cover to cover. I lose track and wander away. But like many who knew Betty Hill, I was highly motivated to complete Captured! And I’m glad I did. Ufologists Standon Friedman ("The Father of Roswell") and Kathleen Marden had direct access to Betty’s journals, hypnosis tapes and family records. Kathleen, Betty’s niece, who lives here in Seacoast, New Hampshire was just 13 when the alleged close encounter occurred in the White Mountains in 1961. Kathleen was with Betty in her final months until she died in 2004. If anyone can fill in the blanks, she can – and does.

Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO ExperienceNo one, of course, knows what happened that night. Under hypnosis, betty and Barney came to believe they were taken aboard an alien space craft and given a medical exam, then had their memories erased. Marden herself did not believe the story for years, but has come to accept the abduction story as fact. Like many skeptics, I think the truth lay deep in the mind of Betty Hill and her marriage to Barney, a civil rights activist and postal worker.

I had hoped for much more about the early years of Betty and Barney, an interracial couple married in 1960. Both had been married before. They were on a belated "honeymoon" to Niagra Falls and Montreal when the famous incident occurred. But "Captured!" gives us just one scant chapter on the couple before launching into a detailed defense of the abduction theory.

It’s a good defense. Friedman, a respected researcher and nuclear scientist, and Marden tick their way down the "facts" of the case, filling in blank spaces with little known details and attacking the theories of skeptics. It is a well-worn trail, having been told and retold for more than four decades in books, web sites, documentaries and even a Hollywood film entitled "The UFO Incident."

This is, however, a book about UFOs by two UFO believers. The publisher, New Page Books, specializes in UFOs, magic, new age and paranormal topics. There is, therefore, no "other side" to the argument, no alternative theories, no rational explanations. It reads, to an agnostic, like a book about Jesus written by Christian fundamentalists. There is an underlying tone of impatience and disrespect for those who doubt the Hill story, and an abundance of so-called "scientific" analysis of microscopic topics. We are expected to believe that this "highly documented" case is made more believable by hypnosis transcripts, an intriguing catalog of circumstantial events and artifacts, and a lengthy list of respectable and intelligent people who found the story plausible. All this data might have been more convincing if each section in the book wasn’t highlighted by drawings of tiny UFOs. In the end, the most convincing characters in the story were Betty and Barney themselves who had nothing to gain and much to lose by making their story public.

The best part of the book is Marden’s sensitive depiction of Betty Hill, the petite, intelligent, chain smoking firecracker we all knew and loved. Marden does a great job as a first time author and saves the book from becoming just another pro-UFO rant. Her behind-the-scenes details are worth the purchase price alone, and make up for the exhausting minutia about star maps, alien physiognomy, amateur psychology and theories of hypnosis and memory recovery. We’ve heard all that before. The book shines brightest when it treats Betty and Barney as real people, with dynamic personalities and human flaws.

Because of its scope and authority, Captured renders all other books analyzing the Hill Case moot. It serves as a great companion volume to John Fuller’s Interrupted Journey that is still the most open-minded book on the topic. – JDR

Alien image © UNH Special Collections. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Review (c) SeacoastNH.com. All rights reserved.

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