Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II” as Want to Read:
Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,370 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
 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."—
"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 histor
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Riverhead Books (first published 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Vanished, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Vanished

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
The Hook - The non-fiction choice for our Fourth Tuesday Book Group and a penchant for this kind of book.

The Line”The human impulse to bury the dead is as old as civilization itself.”

The Sinker – In the author Wil S. Hylton’s words ”The first time Pat Scannon went to Palau, he wasn’t sure what he was searching for. Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II begins when Patrick Scannon, MD, PH.D., joins a scuba expedition seeking a Japanese Ship in 1993. This quest ch
Oct 29, 2013 Andy rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing, gripping, and at times suspenseful read that documents one man's sudden overwhelming desire to find out what happened to three B-24 Liberators shot down near Palau in the Pacific theater of World War II. Hylton does a great job of describing Pat Scannon's current-day journey of research, travel, interviews, heartaches, and elation in discovering the mystery of what happened to those lost B-24's, and shows a masterful job of interweaving that with the very personal back story ...more
Nov 06, 2013 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Actual rating: 3.5.

I heard an interview with the author on NPR. I'm interested in the Pacific bombing campaigns of WWII, and had read Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken last year, so I knew right away I'd want to read this one too. As soon as I could get to my desktop computer I ran a Google search for "Will Hilton." I came up empty-handed. Fortunately, I remembered the book's title, which at least is spelled the way it sounds, and was able to order a copy from my local library (sorry, Wil, just havin
Sam Sattler
Oct 21, 2013 Sam Sattler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war, history
Astonishingly, more than 56,000 World War II American troops are still missing. Even more astonishing (at least to me) is that two-thirds of all missing soldiers from the entire last century were lost in World War II’s Pacific theater. Now, Wil S. Hylton’s Vanished offers new insight into the sixty-year search that has still turned up such a small percentage of the missing men.

Vanished, at times, reads more like a novel than a nonfiction account of the combination of tenacity and luck that some
Sarah W
Nov 02, 2013 Sarah W rated it really liked it
In 1944, a b-24 crashed, leaving its crew MIA and their loved ones bereft and without closure. After decades of searching and unanswered questions, clues are slowly pieced together and the story of what happened is revealed to the dedicated team of scientists and researchers who refused to give up the hunt.

This true story of the journey towards discovery and answers brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It is easy to relate to the men, as we see them through their correspondence with l
Nov 03, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to get an early copy of this book, and can't say enough about it. Taut, tragic, thrilling--it unfolds like a mystery and ghost story. Hylton is an unparalleled storyteller, and a deep-diving reporter, who's returned with a story of a lifetime here. For years, I've followed his work in major magazines from The New York Times Sunday Magazine to Harper's to GQ and Esquire, and I would put him at the top of the heap as a writer. His stories have ranged from political profiles to faraway ...more
Nancy Steinle gummel
Vanished : The Sixty Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II by Wil S Hylton is an indepth study of the search for the remains of fighter planes and their crew lost in the Pacific Battlefield. It all started with Pat Scannan and his wife Susan went on a trip with a film crew for stories of downed aircraft and buried treasure. Scannan was hooked when he found part of a propeller in the waters of Palau. For the next 20 years he returned and did methodical search and he researched archived ...more
Mar 03, 2014 Pat rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down - it is am amazing story of one man's quest to find airmen missing during WW2 in the waters off a small island in Micronesia . It is also the story of the devastating grief families go through when their loved ones are never found. I highly recommend it
Michael Downs
May 13, 2013 Michael Downs rated it it was amazing
I read an ARC of this book and found it mesmerizing. The narrative is taut, the reporting exhaustive, and the humanity expansive. I felt great affection for the World War II fliers who went missing in the Pacific and for the people who made it their life's business to find the last vestiges of those men. The story demands to be read.
Oct 15, 2014 Sweetwilliam rated it really liked it
I think most people will find this story interesting. Whether you are WWII air war historian, lover of 1940’s nostalgia, a diver, archeologist, or someone interested in the POW recovery story, you will find something of interest in this book.

This was a good story and a nice read. Vanished is a testament to the long term suffering that the families of the MIAs experience even a half century after the war’s end. These families never achieve that feeling of closure. I guess I did not realize how ba
Douglas Lord
Sep 14, 2014 Douglas Lord rated it really liked it
Take a gander over at the 940s call number : the shelves of libraries all over this great land are jam-packed with the stories and history of World War II. It is an area of constant circulation and fascination for readers, and this is a worthy addition. On a 1993 vacation to Palau, normal dude Pat Scannon sees the wreckage from a B-24 Liberator, one of America’s “eighteen-ton behemoth” bombers. Though clunky and clumsy, they were an essential component of America’s Clutch Win. The wreck starts S ...more
Oct 11, 2013 Christine rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I am reviewing an Advanced Reader Copy I won through Goodreads Giveaways.

Vanished tells the story of some of the many thousands of MIA soldiers in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. It's really a double story--one of the life of the young men lost in the conflict, and one of the people searching for them 60 years later. Author Wil S. Hylton does a great job at making you feel for all of these groups-- the heartache and loss of the missing soldiers' families, the promise of so many young lives with the
Oct 08, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
Poignant tale of the men who died and remain unfound throughout the world and those they left behind . It's also the story of the men and women who seek them. It's military history, archaeology, genealogy, and a good mystery yarn all rolled into one. This book read like a magazine article which was its genesis. Better maps and more photos would have made it better. We are introduced to so many characters-photos would have facilitated keeping them clear and distinct in your mind's eye. Instead of ...more
Jan 01, 2014 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii
Well, although it kept my interest, it didn't turn out like I thought it would. I was hoping for some "grand revelation" about how the missing guys survived the plane crash and ended up in some secret government mission, etc. That, of course, is not anywhere near what the book is about. It's very similar to Hunting Warbirds: The Obsessive Quest for the Lost Aircraft of World War II in that there's a guy who becomes obsessed with finding a WWII aircraft crash. Where the Hoffman book recalls in ag ...more
Sep 15, 2013 Claire rated it liked it
I received Vanished as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Vanished tells the story of an air crew that disappeared on or around the island nation of Palau, alternating modern day chapters of the excavation with reconstructed events around the final mission, as well as the personal lives of the men lost.

It was a very well-told story, and the back-and-forth structure was very effective. Most interesting was the insight on so-called "MIA families" who suffer a unique sort of grief, that of not knowing. I
Colleen Lahey
Jan 10, 2014 Colleen Lahey rated it it was amazing
What an awesome novel. I'd rate this higher if I could. The book is about 60 year search for the missing men of B-24 bombers in the Pacific theatre. I love how the author writes. It is exciting and fast paced and reads like a first rate thriller. It is also a moving story since it impacts so many families seeking answers to what happened to their loved ones cited by the military as MIA.

I was most impressed by a man named in the book Pat Scannon. What a noble man. What a humble man. What a hero.
Gus Breymann
Mar 23, 2014 Gus Breymann rated it it was amazing
You don't die until the last person who knew you dies.

This is the remarkably-told story of the ambiguous loss families feel when their loved ones go missing in action during wartime. In addition, it is also the story of: family responses when their sons and brothers went off to war after Pearl Harbor; a broad-brush history of presidential and military strategists in the Pacific theater; a portrait of the lives of air crews at their remote Pacific bases(Los Negros and Wakde); an overview of the
Nov 11, 2013 Ed rated it liked it
Interesting account of the long, tough search for missing air crews shot down over the Pacific during the Battle of Pelelui in 1944. Most people, when thinking about MIA's, think about the 880 MIA's from the Viet Nam War. WWII by contrast, had 83,000 MIA's! The search for these air crews were became the obsession of dedicated team of marine archaeologist / patriots.
Nov 20, 2014 Briant rated it really liked it
This book started out almost like a fiction novel and then seemed to transition into a non-fiction, historical book. However, I learned so much more about the War in the Pacific that it made up for the rote historical narrative.
Jan 28, 2015 Allison rated it it was amazing
Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II, is a well written book about the search for the missing soldiers fighting in the Pacific during World War II. The book starts off with the story of Tommy Doyle, a man with a family who's father was one of the soldiers who had gone missing in the Pacific islands of Palau. When Tommy's mother died, all she had left for him was a wooden trunk, a trunk that was never opened. One day, with given permission from Tommy, Tommy's wife, ...more
Jun 12, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II by Wil S. Hylton is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read on the Second World War, and I have read plenty of them. Hylton’s style and approach is so well done that the book reads like a mystery wrapped around a thriller and rolled up in an action adventure.

When three B-24 Liberators crashed near the island of Palau during the war in the Pacific, their families were left wondering about their fate for the next 60 ye
Jennifer Holik
Mar 27, 2014 Jennifer Holik rated it it was amazing
This book blew me away.

My research and writing has been focused on WWII Europe and mostly infantrymen with one pilot. I wasn’t ready to move to the Pacific yet but certain events, people, pieces of information have started nudging me in that direction. When I was browsing WWII books at Barnes and Noble this one jumped out at me. I read the book over the course of a few hours on a Saturday night, had to force myself to stop and go to sleep, only to resume at 6 a.m. Sunday morning. Curled up on th
Jun 27, 2014 Elizabeth☮ rated it really liked it
This book tells the amazing story of one man's mission to locate three plans that went down near the island of Palau during WWII. Patrick Scannon first sees a glimpse of a wing from a B-24 while on vacation. Scannon becomes obsessed with finding the remaining planes (there are three). His plan to do so takes much longer than he expected. He meets the families of the missing airmen and other members of the military that help him in his mission.

Scannon's background is intriguing and his reasons fo
Julie James
Jul 27, 2014 Julie James rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this fascinating historical page turner. I was so enthralled, I read it in 3 days. Full disclosure - I was lucky enough to visit Palau and Yap in Micronesia and I got my scuba license there in 1991. During that trip we dove to a sunken Japanese WW2 ship (the Fujikawa Maru) in Truk. It was fascinating to read more about the history of this part of the world during WW2. Tip: When reading non-fiction, I tend to skip the Prologue because it can be full of spoilers. After finishing ...more
William Hill
Dec 15, 2013 William Hill rated it did not like it
Greatly disappointed.

Too many sub-plots and every character encountered gets a brief biography. By the time I was half way through I had almost forgotten what the book was about. Basically, the focus of the story was muddled by all the foregoing.

Basically it was like watching a Nat Geographic about finding gold on a ship wreck and spending a hour in front of the screen only to discover at the end that they didn't find anything but better luck next time. I took to skimming the book in the last 75
Aug 17, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a great story about a Liberator that went down near the Island of Palau and went missing along with its crew. Did you know the majority of the 47,000 missing from WWII are missing in the Pacific Theater?

Its very difficult to locate and recover anything in the depths of the waters. In "Vanished" they accomplish just that.

Part of this was about the crew and the families that were left wondering what happened, part was about the man who created The Bent Prop, dedicated to recovering miss
Angie Fehl
May 31, 2016 Angie Fehl rated it liked it
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 bomber that crashed over the island nation of Palau in the fall of 1944. Air Force crash reports state that the bomber crashed in shallow water, but no one in the 1940s (or for decades after) was ever able to find any wreckage. The reports also document statements from eye witnesses claiming they saw men parachuting fr ...more
Jan 15, 2017 Bill rated it really liked it
An example of the ongoing work to find closure for the families of men MIA from the WWII Pacific campaign (like my uncle John Nordbeck).
Apr 21, 2014 Adrian rated it it was amazing
Vanished, Wil S. Hylton’s book about the search to identify and return servicemembers’ remains to their families – no matter the obstacle – is a compelling read. It’s a non-fiction account, something between mystery and history, and is very well written. It took me three days to finish, and I was going hard, as hard as one can given a Masters Thesis and several other writing obligations. If I’d left any of those obligations unfulfilled, I was going to blame it on the book.

Hylton gives readers a
Nov 02, 2013 Megargee rated it liked it
As a WW II buff, I have looked forward to reading this book since I first learned about it. It is a fascinating story, but the book could have been better.
Hylton intertwines two main threads. One is the contemporary search for American personnel lost in WW II. After finding the wing of a downed B-24 Liberator heavy bomber on the South Pacific Island of Palau in 1993, SCUBA diver Pat Scannon made it his business to determine what happened to the plane and how it had come to be there. He discov
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War
  • The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II
  • Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun
  • The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach
  • Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor
  • The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe 1940-1945
  • A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II
  • The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa, 1945: The Last Epic Struggle of World War II
  • Voices of the Pacific: Untold Stories from the Marine Heroes of World War II
  • Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors
  • The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
  • Invasion Rabaul: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul - Australia's Worst Military Disaster of World War II (Rabaul Trilogy, #1)
  • The Miracle of Dunkirk
  • Pacific Payback: The Carrier Aviators Who Avenged Pearl Harbor at the Battle of Midway
  • The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion
  • The Twilight Warriors: The Deadliest Naval Battle of World War II and the Men Who Fought It
  • Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo

Share This Book