The Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill: Alien Encounters, Civil Rights, and the New Age in America (Hardcover)

The Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill: Alien Encounters, Civil Rights, and the New Age in America By Matthew Bowman Cover Image
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A gripping account of an alien abduction and its connections to the breakdown of American society in the 1960s
“Excellent and exhaustive.”—Colin Dickey, Slate
In the mid-1960s, Betty and Barney Hill became famous as the first Americans to claim that aliens had taken them aboard a spacecraft against their will. Their story—involving a lonely highway late at night, lost memories, and medical examinations by small gray creatures with large eyes—has become the template for nearly every encounter with aliens in American popular culture since.
Historian Matthew Bowman examines the Hills’ story not only as a foundational piece of UFO folklore but also as a microcosm of 1960s America. The Hills, an interracial couple who lived in New Hampshire, were civil rights activists, supporters of liberal politics, and Unitarians. But when their story of abduction was repeatedly ignored or discounted by authorities, they lost faith in the scientific establishment, the American government, and the success of the civil rights movement.
Bowman tells the fascinating story of the Hills as an account of the shifting winds in American politics and culture in the second half of the twentieth century. He exposes the promise and fallout of the idealistic reforms of the 1960s and how the myth of political consensus has given way to the cynicism and conspiratorialism and the paranoia and illusion of American life today.

About the Author

Matthew Bowman is associate professor of religion and history and Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. His books include The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith. He lives in Claremont, CA.

Praise For…

“Bowman honours both Barney and Betty with richly detailed, deeply human portraits.”—Mark Pilkington, Fortean Times

“Excellent and exhaustive.”—Colin Dickey, Slate

“In this unconventional chronicle of Cold War America, historian and religious scholar Bowman examines evolving societal relations between science, religion, and race through the lens of one interracial couple’s encounter with the supernatural. . . . It adds up to a potent deconstruction of mid-20th-century American politics and culture.”—Publishers Weekly

“Timely, topical, and telling.”—Mormon Land (podcast), Salt Lake Tribune

“The story of the Hills has been dissected and exploited by both promoters and debunkers of alien visitation. Bowman offers instead a sensitive and rich biography of the couple that both fascinates and enlightens.”—Greg Eghigian, Penn State University

“Matthew Bowman situates the story of Betty and Barney Hill, whose experiences originated modern UFO abduction narratives, within their identity as a Unitarian interracial couple, and in doing so demonstrates how their lives reveal transformations within American economics, politics, religion, and race relations. Far from just a story about flying saucers, Bowman’s book traces themes of authority, conspiracy, science, religion, gender, and media.”—Benjamin E. Zeller, author of The Handbook of UFO Religions

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300251388
ISBN-10: 0300251386
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: August 29th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English