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Oblivion: The Mystery of West Point Cadet Richard Cox Paperback – December 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From Brassey's come two volumes of military history. Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Viet Nam's Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, by Cecil B. Currey, offers a thoroughly researched biography of the leader of the Vietnamese Communist forces against the Japanese, French and Americans. Photos. Oblivion: The Mystery of West Point Cadet Richard Cox, by Harry J. Maihafer, diligently explores and solves the questions behind the 1950 disappearance from West Point of the eponymous cadet, which generated national headlines at the time. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When Cadet Richard Cox disappeared from West Point in l950, theories and rumors abounded, ranging from murder to abduction by the Soviets. In l957, he was declared legally dead, following extensive investigations by both military and civilian agencies. In l985, however, retired teacher Marshall Jacobs began his own investigation. After seven years of interviews with Cox's classmates, family members, neighbors, and government agents, Jacobs unraveled the mystery of the missing cadet. Military writer Maihafer's presentation is detailed and well organized, and although the technique of including seemingly every lead can be somewhat confusing, it gives the reader a grip on how time-consuming and frustrating such an investigation is. A riveting account with a surprise ending; for true-crime collections.
Christine A. Moesch, Buffalo & Erie Cty. P.L., N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Brassey's US (December 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574882244
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574882247
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Erin S. on May 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book held my attention as I read it practically cover to cover. It is very interesting, albeit annoying at times as the author goes in great detail about numerous leads, only to have them ruled out a few pages later. I can see why the author did that -- to show the exhaustive work done by CID and FBI investigators, and also to give the reader a small, small taste of the incredible frustration these investigators must have felt at the time. The problem with the book is that it is highly anti-climatic. The researcher, Jacobs, did not "give up" (as some have implied), he basically solved the mystery it's farthest moral extent. I do recommend reading this book, as it shall hold your attention through and through, but be prepared to be disappointed with the anti-climatic end.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "xbklyny" on May 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've been interested in the Richard Cox mystery since I was very little and read about it in LIFE magazine in 1950 and then a few years later in CORONET. From time to time over the years I would research the topic hoping for new information. I'd almost given up until I came across this book , containing lots of details never before disclosed. Unfortunately, as mentioned in some of the above reviews, the proposed "solution" at the end is thoroughly unconvincing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Hanna on June 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An elderly friend told me about this case, recalling the Life magazine article about it in 1952. A bit of googling and voila: this book "Oblivion." It should interest most readers who are intrigued by the subject of odd, baffling disappearances.
Other reviewers here describe the book's good points - thorough researching of a fascinating mystery - and the sometimes tiresome points - endless descriptions of leads and clues that go nowhere, but surely that is typical of most police work. Obviously the author wished that the book be a complete record of the case. What is especially intriguing is how utterly exhaustive the search for Cox was.
I agree with others that the author's conclusion, based on the testimony of one man, is unsatisfying and has implausible elements, but I certainly haven't a better explanation. Anything is possible. What is particularly doubtful (this may be a spoiler) is the idea that someone from a close-knit family and with friends would choose to abruptly sever all contact forever.
The original 1952 Life magazine article on Cox is online and contains the surprising information that even back in the early 50's, which most of us think of as such a "normal" time as compared to today, a million Americans disappeared every year (most were found).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keo on April 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
...and I wanted it to be good so badly! But, it just was not to be. This is a book about someone who did a lot of research and decided to publish every word of it, rather than just the pertinent information. It becomes irritating to continue to learn information about the subject, only to be told that it is all totally worthless. And, the end is anti-climactic. In the end, a diligent researcher accepts the word of a single source as fact. Doesn't seem like the same man. Perhaps he was just ready to retire. I suggest this would make a pretty good movie, but not a book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a West Point graduate (1984) I often receive gifts from friends and family that reflect this association. This is how I came to have a copy of Oblivion in the first place. I had heard about this book being written, but as a cadet had never heard ANY stories like this at all. I got the impression after reading Oblivion that this is probably the way the Academy would prefer things to be.
The authors painstakingly detail the events leading up to Cadet Cox's disappearance. Their description of cadet life and the environment behind the grey granite walls at the academy is excellent. As one of the authors is himself a graduate, he had walked a mile or two in 'our' moccasins.
As a previous reviewer has mentioned, the ending could have been more detailed. I felt a little let down by the "well, and that's the end" way the book concluded.
Still a very interesting read. So interesting that I began at 1 am and closed it up tight by 6 am.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book first came to my attention after reading a book review in the Washington Post last fall. West Point cadet Richard Cox left the campus on the evening of January 14, 1950 to go to dinner with an unidentified visitor. He was never heard from again. Neither the military nor the FBI could solve the mystery of Cox's disappearance. Cox was declared dead seven years later. Harry J. Maihafer, a retired historian, took on the task of finding out what happened to Richard Cox after receiving a telephone call from a man identifying himself as a retired history teacher. This book is the result of Maihafer's investigation. Mr. Maihafer has written a story that rivals the best mystery fiction. I read this book in a weekend, unable to put it down. It is thoroughly researched and documented, convincing, and written in a manner that makes you anxious to find out how the stroy ends. I was a little disappointed that the ending was not more detailed, but circumstances did not permit it. If Mr. Maihafer pens another masterfully crafted tale of mystery, I will be the first in line to read it
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