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Boston-based author Ben Mezrich will talk about his latest nonfiction book and his writing career on Wednesday, Nov. 9, as featured author at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore’s annual Jewish Book Month Speaker Series
By BILL BROTHERTON
Despite having been a writer on “The X-Files,” Ben Mezrich has never been a big believer in UFOs.
That changed when the Boston-based author started doing research for his latest nonfiction book, “The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America’s UFO Highway.”
“I grew up in a family of scientists, but never had a sighting of my own. I was skeptical. It wasn’t until I dug into this book that I see it now as more of a possibility,” said Mezrich. “As mind-blowing and incredible as it seems, I am convinced there is evidence of at least one (alien) visitation.”
“The 37th Parallel” focuses on UFO hunter Chuck Zukowski, a former sheriff’s deputy in Colorado who has spent the better part of three decades investigating alien sightings, secret government activity and the bizarre incidences of mutilated livestock that have occurred on the 37th degree of latitude.
Mezrich, 47, will talk about “The 37th Parallel” and his writing career on Wednesday, Nov. 9, as featured author at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore’s annual Jewish Book Month Speaker Series.
The Harvard University graduate is certainly prolific, having penned 16 books, including the wordily-titled best-sellers “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions” and “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding Of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal.” They were the basis for hit movies “21” and “The Social Network.”
“The 37th Parallel” will also become a major motion picture, produced by New Line Cinema.
“It all started with a call from a Hollywood producer friend who said ‘Ben, there’s this guy, Zukowski, who has investigated cattle mutilations. More than 10,000 cows have been found lying on their left side, with missing organs, completely drained of blood. Go check him out.’”
Mezrich flew to Colorado and hung out with Zukowski. It didn’t take him long to realize there was a book and a movie “in this totally crazy tale. Mutilated cattle and government coverups. Weird conspiracy theories, dating back to the ’40s. Thirty to forty percent of people believe we have been visited by life on other planets. It’s quite compelling. It will make a great movie.” Robert Downey Jr. is in talks to play the lead role, said Mezrich, who approached the subject as would a journalist, reporting facts and avoiding speculation.
Does Mezrich believe we’ve been visited?
“I believe there is fairly good evidence of at least once in our history something did crash here. I think it all centers around Roswell (the supposed crash site of a flying saucer in New Mexico), whether or not it’s an alien spacecraft, no one can say. The Air Force refuses to release information or speak about it,” said Mezrich. “Presidents have pushed to have the files opened. I know Hillary Clinton wants to get the files opened.
“The majority of UFO sightings are explainable. Not all are. I am becoming more and more convinced there is definite evidence of a coverup,” said Mezrich, who added that a private aerospace company has been rumored to have had a UFO in storage for more than 50 years.
Is the truth out there? Mezrich will likely expound on the subject Wednesday night in Marblehead.
Mezrich’s next project? “Woolly: The True Story of the De-Extinction of One of History’s Most Iconic Creatures.” Slated to be published by Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books next year, it tells the story of a Harvard geneticist and a team of scientists who try to bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction. It, too, will become a movie.
Ben Mezrich at the Jewish Book Month Speaker Series, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore in Marblehead. Tickets: $18; at jccns.org or 781-476-9909.