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Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II Hardcover – November 5, 2013
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"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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good story, told in a bit of a rambling, unfocused at times, way. I stuck through it and enjoyed itPublished 8 days ago by Waikiki
The story could have been interesting but the writing fell far short of realizing the potential. It appeared that the writer was trying very hard to sound "literary". Read morePublished 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
This book is very heart warming when you read it and understand what the people who go out and try to bring missing service men and women back for a proper burial. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Chris Norwood
since I have lived in Palau, this story is of great interest. It is well written and makes personal the lives of aviators lost in the war. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Kerry C. Fitzgibbons
The author is an excellent writer. The book however does not really stay on the subject. The writer veers on and off the subject of this book throughout. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alan R. Hecko
Great story of WWII pacific theatre and generations later of the search and recovery of the lost.Published 1 month ago by Robert Beal
I could not put this book down and was sad when it was over! It is written succinctly and filled with lush metaphors describing the tropical islands! I loved it!Published 1 month ago by surprised
Expanding on his work that was originally published as an article in GQ Magazine, Wil Hylton further investigates the story of what happened to the crew (11 men in total) of a WW2... Read morePublished 1 month ago by EpicFehlReader