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Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II Hardcover – November 5, 2013

319 customer reviews

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Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II + Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II + A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World W ar II
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Hylton highlights the efforts to find missing American military personnel lost during WWII in the Pacific theater. The focus of the story is Dr. Pat Scannon, an M.D. with a doctorate in chemistry who became fascinated with the wreckage of American military aircraft while on a 1993 diving expedition in the Republic of Palau. The book follows Scannon as he establishes the Bentprop project and leads repeated private expeditions to Palau to search for the crash sites of the missing aircraft. One aircraft, a WWII bomber, becomes his obsession, and Hylton&'s story traces Scannon&'s decade-long quest to find it while highlighting many different and important aspects of the search for America&'s lost military personnel and recreating the lives, training, and combat experience of the young crewmen who manned the lost aircraft. Hylton also describes the physiological and emotional impact that MIA status has on the surviving families of the lost men, and he details the extensive research necessary to locate the remains of the aircraft; the active role of the military&'s Joint MIA/POW Accounting Command; and the patience and time necessary to achieve success. It&'s a well-told story of WWII heroism and tragedy that demonstrates that the missing are not forgotten. (Nov.)

From Booklist

The B-24, a WWII bomber, is nearly 70 feet long with a wingspan of more than 100 feet. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to find something that big, but in September 1944 a B-24 went down with its crew of 11 in the Pacific and remained hidden there for nearly seven decades. Hylton’s gripping book begins with a modern-day mystery. Did Tommy Doyle’s father, who was a member of the B-24’s crew, actually survive the crash and live a new life with a new family? Tommy’s wife, searching for an answer, located a man named Pat Scannon, explorer, wreck-hunter, seeker of lost WWII gold, who had been looking for the very same plane for the past six years. Combining the modern-day search for the missing plane and the stories of its crew as they prepared for what would be their last flight, the book is both the tale of an exciting scientific expedition and a little-known WWII story. Recommend this one to readers who enjoyed Carl Hoffman’s Hunting Warbirds (2001) and Mitchell Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time (2013). --David Pitt
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487278
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487279
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (319 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Wil S. Hylton is an author and essayist whose writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines. His work has been selected for numerous anthologies, including Best American Political Writing, Best Music Writing, Best Business Stories, and Next Wave: America's New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.

Hylton's first book, VANISHED, describes the mysterious disappearance of an American bomber during World War II and the unyielding effort by scientists and adventurers to locate its missing crew. More information about VANISHED can be seen at www.vanishedbook.com.

Hylton has been featured on The Diane Rehm Show, NPR Weekend Edition, Hardball with Chris Mathews, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, American History TV, and The News with Brian Williams. He is a visiting writer at Johns Hopkins University, and a recipient of the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Journalism, granted by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

More of his writing can be found at www.wilshylton.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Frank VINE VOICE on September 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Pure military history has never appealed to me. Although I enjoy history, I have no military background and war stories and battles have never particularly interested me.

"Vanished" is different. I found it to be a real page-turner. Reading during lunch turned into reading at the kitchen table after lunch to find out what happened next. That's because "Vanished" isn't pure military history, but the story of the personal quest of Pat Scannon to unravel the mystery of a B-24 bomber that disappeared with its crew on September 1, 1944 in the Pacific near Palau, colored by the personalities and circumstances of the crew and their families and put into context by the strategy and actions of the Japanese and U.S. military forces.

Hylton's saga resonated for me, having visited Papua New Guinea and Midway Island and toured the remnants of the Japanese and U.S. World War II tunnels, bunkers, tanks, gun batteries, pillboxes, ammunition storage huts and memorials. My Pacific travel included diving in Fiji, Tahiti, and Papua New Guinea, so I could also identify with the location and recovery process of the wrecks and artifacts Scannon discovered, explored and recovered.

Scannon's motivation to uncover the details of the vanished bomber and crew was driven by the need of the families of the airmen to know what happened to the men and, hopefully, recover remains to officially put to rest. This process took ten years, thousands of dollars, and liaisons with government organizations and veterans. Scannon went from an interested observer with a 1993 expedition to find a Japanese trawler sunk by George H. W. Bush in July 1944 to a man driven by the need to identify and explore military planes sunk in the Pacific to find soldiers missing or killed in action.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Mccarthy VINE VOICE on August 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Vanished" tells the story of Pat Scannon, doctor and entrepreneur, who went to Palau on a lark to do some scuba diving, find George H.W. Bush's first combat kill, and maybe just look for some lost gold. While there, he ran across some B-24 wreckage, and soon became hooked on finding other lost combat aircraft. After meeting with the families of downed aircrews, his interest morphed into a compassionate obsession with finding the remains of those lost crews.

The author brings us a tale that's interesting, but not compelling. Most of the book is spent tracking the lives of one aircrew up until the point that they were shot down. Working from wartime letters and modern interviews with survivors - everything is thoroughly documented - Hylton paints a picture of the crew's love interests and daily lives. There is some description of combat, but very little, so the focus is primarily on the mundane. The story transitions from flashbacks to Scannon's broadening efforts to find a missing B-24 and get the military involved. There's a lot of detail here also, which is necessary to understand how things come to a conclusion, but there is very little to get excited about.

One thing the book really needs is more photos, maps, and graphics. It's a fairly short book, and I get the feeling that some areas were stretched out to keep it from being too short, so there's definitely room to add some helpful pictures. Many folks today have no idea what a B-24 looks like, and the only photos here are tiny. A cut-away drawing of a B-24 would be useful to help readers understand the crew positions. The only underwater photo is uncaptioned, but shows an aircraft that's clearly *not* a B-24.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Lefand VINE VOICE on September 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Able to carry a heavy load, the B-24 Liberator was built and flew like a Mack truck but had a thin aluminum skin that could be cut with a steak knife. Clammy, smelly and with tight quarters that wind blew in from waist gunners windows the brave airmen who flew in them had an exhausting and perilous job. Lost forever in the mist of war are the heroes who never returned because they are listed as MIA (Missing In Action). "Vanished" by Wil Hylton is about the unrelenting quest by Pat Scannon to find a missing B-24 crew lost over the Islands of Palau in World War II.

Hylton chronicles the search and frustration efforts of Pat Scanlon as he tried to find answers to what became of airmen who were shot down over Palau. As a civilian Pat became interested in this subject while vacationing in Palau while diving offshore. Hylton also describes the efforts of the Graves Registration Service funded by the military that spearheaded the recovery efforts to try and locate the tremendous amount of servicemen missing in action. Lacking remains of those who are missing family members, through generations after the war, lack closure by not being able to honor and put to rest those who served.

Hylton has compiled a very readable narrative. By combining the search for the missing aircrew he interweaves old letters written from those missing and interviews with surviving family members and B-24 aircrews. The missing aircraft and crew from "Big Stoop" (Tail Number 453) plays a predominant role in "Vanished."

The eventual attack on Angaur and Peleiu in the Palau Islands by soldiers and marines under Nimitz's command proved to be appallingly difficult and costly.
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Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II
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