Synopses & Reviews
Updated with New Information and Additional Patches
They’re on the shoulders of all military personnel: patches showing what a soldier’s unit does. But what if that’s top secret?
“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
I COULD TELL YOU. . . is a bestselling collection of more than seventy military patches representing secret government projects. Here author/photographer/investigator Trevor Paglen explores classified weapons projects and intelligence operations by scrutinizing their own imagery and jargon, disclosing new facts about important military units, which are here known by peculiar names (“Goat Suckers,” “Grim Reapers,” “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.
“A fresh approach to secret government.”
—Steven Aftergood, The Federation of American Scientists
“An impressive collection.”
—Justin Rood, ABC News
“A fascinating set of shoulder patches.”
—Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
“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
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.
By submitting hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, the author has assembled an extensive guide featuring 75 patches--icons that represent CIA projects--to reveal a secret world of military imagery and jargon.
About the Author
Trevor Paglen is an artist, writer, and geographer. He is the author of Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights (coauthored with A.C. Thompson), Blank Spots on a Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World, and Invisible: Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes. He lives and works in Oakland and New York City.