Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II

( 14 )

Overview

 Praised by Robert Kurson, Philipp Meyer, Hampton Sides, Michael Paterniti, and many others
 
"A powerful story, masterfully told."—GQ
"[A] deeply textured, propulsive new book...a phenomenal writer."—TIME.com
"Marries an almost...

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Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II

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Overview

 Praised by Robert Kurson, Philipp Meyer, Hampton Sides, Michael Paterniti, and many others
 
"A powerful story, masterfully told."—GQ
"[A] deeply textured, propulsive new book...a phenomenal writer."—TIME.com
"Marries an almost cinematically well-paced narrative with a deep sensitivity to the people whose lives it tells."—The Boston Globe
"Superb... Part Pacific Theater history, part Indiana Jones thriller."—Newsday
 
As featured on NPR's Weekend Edition and The Diane Rehm Show

In the fall of 1944, a massive American bomber carrying eleven men vanished over the Pacific islands of Palau, leaving a trail of mysteries. According to mission reports from the Army Air Forces, the plane crashed in shallow water—but when investigators went to find it, the wreckage wasn't there. Witnesses saw the crew parachute to safety, yet the airmen were never seen again. Some of their relatives whispered that they had returned to the United States in secret and lived in hiding. But they never explained why.

For sixty years, the U.S. government, the children of the missing airmen, and a maverick team of scientists and scuba divers searched the islands for clues. They trolled the water with side-scan sonar, conducted grid searches on the seafloor, crawled through thickets of mangrove and poison trees, and flew over the islands in small planes to shoot infrared photography. With every clue they found, the mystery only deepened.

Now, in a spellbinding narrative, Wil S. Hylton weaves together the true story of the missing men, their final mission, the families they left behind, and the real reason their disappearance remained shrouded in secrecy for so long. This is a story of love, loss, sacrifice, and faith—
of the undying hope among the families of the missing, and the relentless determination of scientists, explorers, archaeologists, and deep-sea divers to solve one of the enduring mysteries of World War II.

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  • Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II
    Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/12/2013
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.)
The New York Times Magazine - Hugo Lindgren
Wil is not only a tenacious reporter, he's also a gifted storyteller. . . . By now you should know that when you see Wil's byline on a piece, it doesn't really matter what it's about. Just read it.
Library Journal
10/15/2013
This book has three stories: the wartime actions of the men of an American B-24 bomber that crashed in the Palau Islands in the Pacific Theater in 1944, how their surviving relatives and friends coped over the decades with their loss, and how private individuals spent years trying to locate the wreckage and discover what happened to the crew. The switching back and forth among these stories can make it hard to keep the narrative straight. Hylton (contributing writer, New York Times Magazine) writes with some poetic flair about the beauty of the islands, the terrible conditions on the ground and in the air, and the hard work of private experts such as anthropologist Eric Emery and others in the last decades, as they searched for the missing aircraft. VERDICT For those interested in World War II aerial operations and the ongoing searches for missing aircraft and crew.—DB
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-29
The story of the quest to discover the fates of the 56,000 American servicemen who served in the Pacific theater during World War II and were declared to be missing in action. New York Times Magazine writer Hylton picked up the story in the wake of scuba diver Pat Scannon's successful efforts to find evidence in the waters around Palau. The diver found the underwater wreckage of three bombers shot down during the battle for Palau, one of the bloodiest in the whole war. One of those shot down was tail gunner Jimmie Doyle, whose family was informed he was missing in 1944 but never had definitive knowledge of his fate. Thanks to Scannon--who sought to "honor the military tradition in his family without abandoning his sense of self"--and the team he established, Jimmie's son, Tommy, and his wife eventually discovered what had happened to the father declared missing many years ago. Scannon's investigations into the submerged wrecks led to the development of his own expertise and the organization of the "BentProp" team of divers, which took on responsibility to help account for the MIAs lost in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Cooperating with the military's Central Identification Laboratory and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command enabled Scannon and his team to successfully track down the story of the sunken B-24s. Hylton draws from a treasure trove of Doyle's letters, which later provided the impetus for Tommy to seek out Scannon and his investigators. The author skillfully weaves these strands together against a dramatic account of the Pacific theater, particularly the action in the air over Palau and its surroundings. An absorbing read that is well-structured to pull readers through the narrative. A perfect complement to Bryan Bender's You Are Not Forgotten (2013).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594487279
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 13,913
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Wil S. Hylton is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. He lives in Baltimore.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

4 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2013

    Vanished: I highly recommend.

    This book is very well written and covers a subject, World War II, which I've recently become interested in. I was born in 1942, so the war is part of my life, even though I don't remember it. I've read a couple of books recently that covered parts of the war in Europe, but this is only the second one about the Pacific, and I could hardly put it down. I just finished and am disappointed that it's done!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    I agree with the editorial review by Library Journal. I found ea

    I agree with the editorial review by Library Journal. I found each of the 3 stories interesting, but the movement between them was distracting. The author also added a couple of stories that were too tangential to warrant the level of attention received, detracting from an otherwise powerful narrative about war, uncertainty and the need for closure.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    Outstanding storytelling, history at its best. The author writes

    Outstanding storytelling, history at its best. The author writes with great understanding for the anguish of those left behind and the human toll of war. I was ignorant of the actions which took place in the Pacific theater during World War II. After reading this book I am much more aware of what took place and the sacrifice of so many, too many, young men.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2013

    Interesting but too long

    The story is interesting, but the author takes much too long to tell it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    Absorbing

    Easy reading with a personal touch to history. A great behind the scenes look at wreckage recovery. For anyone with a passion for military history, this book is a must have! We have all read about missions and sorties but what about that other crew that didn't make it and what happens to the family that is left behind?

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  • Posted February 14, 2014

    Recommended ..

    Vanished is a well written, easy read for anyone who has an interest in mysteries and the MIA/POW issue . Once the reader captures the characters in the story,following the path of discovery is like pebbles along a beach, taking you to your destination. The under story is as interesting, as the reader is able to watch the growth of the writer from a pragmatist , too a romantic.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    Very Interesting

    Good read for the back story on some of the missing flyers in WWII. Brings to mind the raw jagged feeling of unaccounted loved ones, lost to the ages, regardless of the era or circumstances.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2013

    ...

    The book isnt really good....

    0 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 7, 2013

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    Posted December 15, 2013

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    Posted February 14, 2014

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    Posted November 20, 2013

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