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The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America's Wildlands

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,023 ratings  ·  405 reviews
For readers of Jon Krakauer and Douglas Preston, the critically acclaimed author and journalist Jon Billman's fascinating, in-depth look at people who vanish in the wilderness without a trace and those eccentric, determined characters who try to find them.
These are the stories that defy conventional logic. The proverbial vanished without a trace incidences, which happen a
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 7th 2020 by Grand Central Publishing
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Debbie They’re mentioned, but it’s not specifically about the Missing 411 cases. The author talks about Paulides quite a bit as well.

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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,023 ratings  ·  405 reviews


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JEN A
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced copy of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review. The release date for this book was 7 July 2020

This was a difficult but rewarding book to read. As a parent your greatest fear is losing your child but even worse would be losing your child and not knowing what happened to them. The author does a great job of telling the story of a missing biker and his father’s journey to find the truth. The statistics provided in this book about folks goin
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Fiona
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
“In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.” - Friedrich Nietzsche, not used in the book but entirely applicable.

Jon Billman has managed to write a pretty remarkable book here - one that's extensively researched and very well-written, one that's both informative and deeply affecting.

It was when he was researching the main case of this book, that of missing cyclist Jacob Gray, that the idea for the book itself was born; as part of the research, the author kept
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Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
This book was brilliant reading. Incredibly interesting and so well researched. I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I might.

Jon Billman tells us real stories of people who have gone missing in areas of the USA like state forests and the like. Many of these missing people are never found and the sheer numbers that vanish is astounding. Jon describes a good number of cases and follows the case of Jacob Gray, a young man who went missing and the incredible search that ensued from it. Th
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Tucker
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m a life-long resident of the west where vast areas of public land are common. I’ve read many articles about people who go missing in forests, canyons, and on mountains and assisted in a search for one of those missing. Because of that I have some awareness of wilderness disappearances, but after reading “The Cold Vanish” I realize how little I actually know. The book focuses on the disappearance of Jacob Gray in Olympic National Park and covers all the aspects of the search for him through bo ...more
JEN A
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a difficult but rewarding book to read. As a parent your greatest fear is losing your child but even worse would be losing your child and not knowing what happened to them. The author does a great job of telling the story of a missing biker and his father’s journey to find the truth. The statistics provided in this book about folks going missing in national parks is quite alarming. The book touches on such topics as Bigfoot, UFOs, parallel universes, and serial killers. It’s enough to m ...more
Juli
I'm obsessed with missing person stories.Television shows, podcasts, youtube videos....I'm not exactly sure what attracts me to tales of the disappeared, but I listen to many of them. I think it might be that I can't imagine never knowing....having someone close to me disappear and the idea of how shattering it would be to never know where they are and what happened. Even when remains are found, the whole story is rarely revealed. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose someone like that.. ...more
☆.
Apr 28, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
8/31/20 update: finally getting around to reducing my rating to one star. a few days ago comments were made on this review regarding the inclusion of jacob gray's story and the deceit employed by the author, jon billman. he fabricated conversations and events from the family and did not seek out their permission to actually write this story. a post on the Find Jacob Gray facebook page goes into more detail and verifies the comments on this (and other) reviews. i think this is disgusting and the ...more
Ankit Garg
The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman is a true crime book talking about the persons who have gone missing in the wild. The central story revolves around the disappearance of Jacob Gray, and his father's quest to find him. The prose also mentions a lot of similar cases about people going missing in the American wildlands.

The narration is good overall, but it got boring at times, so much so that I was left wondering why I was even reading this work in the first place.

Thanks to the author and the publish
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CDS
Aug 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
I have posted this same review on another website and I promise it’s not spam. It’s just that my message is important and I want to get it out there and this seems to be the only way,

As someone who actually knew Jacob and was close to him when he moved up to Washington, this book is incredibly inaccurate and offensive. Billman clearly didn’t do his “research” as he mixes up the timeline, Jacob’s relationships as well as his personality, and even unashamedly makes up information for his “non-fict
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Lou
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Cold Vanish is renowned journalist Jon Billman’s attempt to shine a light on the vast numbers of people who simply disappear without a trace in the wild outdoors, amongst the lush scenery, leaving their relatives with more questions than answers and a neverending vivid imagination as our minds inevitably jump to all sorts of conclusions when an event is so difficult to come to terms with; it's this not knowing and having no closure on the whereabouts of their loved one that slowly eats away ...more
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
The Cold Vanish is a fascinating look into the stories of thousands who've gone missing in America's national parks with a specific focus on Jacob Gray, a 22 year old biker who went missing in Olympic National Park in 2017. The author covers Jacobs's story start to finish - and there IS a conclusion surrounding Jacob's disappearance! Interspersed through Jacob's story are the stories of many others who've gone running, biking, hiking, and in or near national parks and vanished without
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Liz Barnsley
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Cold Vanish is an extremely well written and involving read about people who vanish into the wilderness and those who endlessly search for them.

The author immerses himself into their stories, spending time with an eclectic group of travellers and searchers, from close family, one father specifically, to professionals and experts and even those on the trail of Bigfoot. It is an intimate and melancholy reading experience that is also a huge page turner - through the eyes of Jon Billman these l
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Preslava
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I really love true crime but this one was pretty dull and.... simply felt like a chore to read.
This book was provided for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Rheama Heather
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Doctor
Aug 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
A good number of the "facts" are false in The Cold Vanish. Jon Billman, put full names and locations into his book, but failed to contact the family for permission. My immediate family, Jacob's relatives, were not contacted or interviewed at all. Yet, Billman quotes these family members as if he had interviewed them.

The Cold Vanish is a false depiction of who Jacob Gray was as a person. Jon Billman completely defamed who Jacob was as a person and member of my family. I'd like to enlighten you to
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Rebecca Nagrodski
This book started off incredibly strong - It's extremely well researched; the descriptions are very strong; and the people simply jump off the page.

Unfortunately, halfway through the book, the book lost itself in the random sidebars about Bigfoot and baseless theories. When that happened, it becomes almost impossible to keep track of the many stories or what the book is trying to say.

That said, I would love to read the original magazine article that this book was based on. I think that in smal
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Rae
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Most importantly, a big thank you to NetGalley, Jon Billman and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.

“Most states’ missing persons statistical figures climb irregularly upward; however, many of the missing on public wildlands aren’t counted. Or they’re not separated from the urban missing. In most states, no one even knows who should be counting. It seems a special mess considering the technological resources we have in our po
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Shaelene (aGirlWithBookss)
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed, dnf
***Edited to include further info from the family***

DNF at 50%
I requested this book expecting to read about people who have gone missing while hiking, camping, and fishing in the woods, and so on. And while yes, we do get that along with the sometimes shoddy investigations conducted by the National Parks service, and how both the US and Canada don't have a database that tracks people that go missing in the wild.
We learn about this while we follow the author as he focuses on this one specific ca
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Katie
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Humans are pretty crafty but will fold quickly in severe cold.”

This book follows several folks who went missing while out for a hike, but it most closely follows the story of Jacob Gray, a 22-year-old resident of my hometown, Santa Cruz, California. In April 2017, Jacob’s bike and gear was discovered abandoned in Olympic National Park in Washington state. A Google search will tell you that he was eventually found, but the circumstances surrounding his tragic death remain a mystery.

When someone
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Robert Conley
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jill Mackin
A thriller-paced investigation of people who have disappeared at the edge of even the shortest hike. Evocative of Krakauer's Into Thin Air. ...more
Karen
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who's done a lot of solo hiking (sun, rain, or snow), this was a compelling read with a hefty dose of "but for the grace of God go I." Billman highlights several cases of people who've gone missing while out hiking, biking, etc. in the wilderness, and contrasts those searches with urban search and rescue cases.

In each case, families suffered while awaiting news of the fate of their loved one. And unlike getting lost in an urban area, there may not be many clues to illuminate the loca
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Claire- Louise
Feb 22, 2021 rated it liked it
I found the first half of this book exceptionally gripping. It was a combination of People Missing in the Woods- a book about missing persons cases in national parks, and Into The Wild. The book focuses on the search for a missing person- Jacob, but along the way revisits different cases of similar circumstances even touching upon Sasquatch believers, which added a mysterious quality. It was hard not to become invested in the desperate search for Jacob by his father Randy. On the other hand, the ...more
Katie P.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
The narrative jumps around in a manner that's occasionally distracting, but Billman always manages to draw you back in with the intoxicating mystery that's aroused whenever someone disappears into the wilderness. Even though both the author and your own sense of reason do their best to keep you grounded, one can't help, but occasionally fall into the proffered rabbit holes of fantastic possibilities. I don't actually think Bigfoot is involved in any of these disappearances, but I can't blame tho ...more
PJ
This is a true story about a biker that went missing in Olympic National Park, Jacob Gray. There are other missing person stories sprinkled in too. The author accompanied Jacob Gray's father on a lot of the searching over a 16-month period.

It was an interesting read.
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Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
“A person isn’t missing until they’re reported missing. Even then, if you’re over eighteen years old, going missing isn’t a crime or even an emergency.”

Conservative estimates put the number of missing persons whose last known location was somewhere in the wildlands of the United States at 1,600. I was astonished to learn that no one really keeps track of how many people have disappeared in the mountains, parks, forests, scrub or deserts across the country, and as such the real number is likely q
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Ashley Hubbard
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I received an advanced copy of The Cold Vanish from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.

“Because the federal government doesn't keep track of missing persons on public land, and because there are likely missing persons that no one knows are in the park, there could be more – maybe significantly more.”

What a heartbreaking but amazing book about the stories of those who go missing in North America's wildlands. Most of which are never found, some that a
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Liz
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that Billman is accused of misrepresenting Jacob, family members, and events of Jacob's life and the search-and-rescue efforts in this book. Family members and friends have stated that some events and quotes have been completely made up, and that some people depicted in the book had not given permission to share personal situations, much less had any contact with Billman at all. I personally believe these statements, and my original feeling that Billma ...more
A
Aug 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
I am related to Jacob and this book is a sham. The author did not get permission to use names from any of the family members. He also made up quotes and facts. He didn’t even get the family relationships right.

This whole story is fiction and honestly it is wrong that he was so careless with his writing. As a journalist he should make sure he has his facts straight.

He wrote Jacob and his parents so differently than they are. Just a couple emails and calls with people who knew Jacob would of cha
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Jordan
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

The Cold Vanish took me longer to read than I expected it to because I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of stories (and, in a way, lack of stories) there were about missing people--and how many missing people there actually are. I've started hearing more over the past few years about the problems that some areas of the United States and Canada have with missing persons cases, especially in Native American/indigenous peoples areas, but I had never
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“Most states’ missing persons statistical figures climb irregularly upward; however, many of the missing on public wildlands aren’t counted. Or they’re not separated from the urban missing. In most states, no one even knows who should be counting. It seems a special mess considering the technological resources we have in our pockets. Sometimes the lost are found, but often not. The mountains are shrouded in fog.” 1 likes
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