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138 of 147 found the following review helpful:
Fast, Full, and ScaryMar 25, 2001
By Amazon Customer
Helter Skelter is the #1 best selling true crime book ever because of three things: It is the story of one of the highest profile murder cases in the world's history, even 30+ years after the fact, it is still an amazing and unique story, and finally, Vincent Bugliosi is a fabulous writer. Most books written by non-writers might tell a good story but not in a dramatic way that a true author otherwise might. Bugliosi has no problem doing that with his books.
I thought I had a pretty good idea of most everything that had happened during this whole ordeal that ended the era of "peace and love," but I didn't know the half of it. Bugliosi needs over 700 pages to vividly recount every second of what led up to the Manson murders and every detail of what was done to bring the killers to trial and put them away. This is without question the fastest and most intense 700 page book I've ever read (and I've read a few), and that can be credited to the sheer madness of this case and the brilliance of the deep-thinking, amazingly-talented prosecutor who closed the case and then wrote this book to tell everything about it.
92 of 99 found the following review helpful:
This review is for the KINDLE editionAug 09, 2009
By Ru Theday
Let me just say that this is a great book, however buy the print edition. There is a list of illustrations in the Kindle edition, but I've yet to find an actual illustration. The FOOTNOTES are grouped together in the back. Not helpful in understanding California law and police procedures in the late 60s. I feel like I bought half a book.
Again, read this book, it's great, but get it in print.
Hey Amazon! If you had mentioned these things in the description, I could have made a better choice. Please, please make these things clear from the beginning. It's my first Kindle disappointment, so I'm not bitter, just sad.
94 of 105 found the following review helpful:
====A TRULY STARTLING, AMAZING, WELL-WRITTEN MASTERPIECE====Aug 28, 1999
By J.C. Hoyt
I highly suggest that everybody read this book. It is, without hesitation, a genuine masterpiece in real life horror.
The first page on the book reads: "The Story in Which You Are About to Read Will Scare the Hell Out of You". That is not an understatement. This book literally kept me up at night fearing that someone could just simply walk into my living room at any minute. It was so vividly described that it put the fear of God in me when I could literally picture the entire array of murders accurately inside my head. It is such a horrifying aspect, a sea of thoughts that will forever remain inside your subconsciousness. I guarantee that when you read the passages describing the horrendous Tate/LaBianca murders, you will gradually build the entire picture inside your brain, to the point where you will feel like you are there, looking down on an excruciating scene of human barbarity. Not ONE detail is left to the imagination.
You will feel like you are inside the investigation, working with Bugliosi to pinpoint these motives, journeying with the killers step by step as they act out there darkest fantasies. You will begin to second guess "The White Album" and be disturbed by Manson's seemingly psychotic interpretation of it. (Make a point to listen to this album afterwards, and you will feel transported back to the Spahn Ranch where the madness soon ensued) You will feel yourself singing crazy ballads with the Family, you will become ancy inside Susan Atkins' jail cell. You will be scared alongside Linda Kasabian on the long night ride to the Tate house. All these feelings and more will incorporate your senses whilst reading this horrifying story.
All I can do to recommend this book enough to you is to say that it stayed with me and disturbed me for years to come. Every time I read this novel, I become obsessed with the events, haunted when I'm lounging around "in the dead of night". Trust me, reading this book is like surviving the events yourself. With its graphic detail and play by play analyzation of every possible occurence, "Helter Skelter" is one of the best true crime novels ever written. I can't suggest a better title for you to read. Be warned, however: Only immerse yourself in this world if you have a desire to be constantly frightened and possess a strong tolerance for graphic descriptions of violence. Not a book for the kiddies!
Reviewed by J.C. Hoyt
Only the absolute BEST pieces of art recieve the highest rating on the universal scale of stars. Hint, hint.
31 of 35 found the following review helpful:
Vince Bugliosi Takes on "Christ" - and TriumphsMay 24, 2004
By Annette Munson
In the early months of 1976, my high school sociology teacher told us of a fascinating and horrifying book called "Helter Skelter" that had commanded his rapt attention for months. Published in 1974, "Skelter" was Vincent Bugliosi's riveting true-crime rendering of the notorious Manson family and their murderous crime spree in August 1969. Bugliosi, significantly, was the prosecuting attorney of Manson and his malignant minions and he succeeded - brilliantly - in ridding our society of these senseless savages.
I was seventeen years old then, and although I was no stranger to the extremes of human aberrations, I was mute with horror at some of my teacher's revelations. (Sadie Mae Glutz's weird name - and the equally goofy name she gave her newborn son - were the least of her post-partum peculiarities.....Manson family females had to wait until the slobbering canines devoured their meals before they could nourish their own inner children......) Several months later, as a freshman newly transplanted at the University of Kansas precisely seven years after the abominable crimes, I purchased a paperback copy of "Skelter".
The prodigiously gifted prosecutor has created a spellbinding re-creation of the events surrounding that long-ago August weekend. Moreover, he has delved into the pathology of Manson and exposed the mass murderer for what he is: a manipulative, savvy, cold-blooded and narcissistic individual - someone who does not deserve to taste freedom - ever.
If you think you know everything about what it takes to convict a criminal - especially someone who (cleverly) avoided the crime scene - "Skelter" reveals the protracted, painstaking and dedicated efforts put forth by Bugliosi to convict these deviants. In those pre-O.J. days in L.A., Bugliosi was fortunate to have a jury who listened - without bias - to the truth, to the overwhelming evidence, and to a talented prosecutor's stunning summation. Happily, Bugliosi was victorious, but his accomplishments didn't end with the 1971 verdicts......
Read "Skelter" and learn about the vast research and skill employed by the prosecutor to vanquish his foes (which included a Judge Ito-like milquetoast who referred to Manson's chief assassin as "poor Tex" and nearly derailed the conviction of Charles Watson).
Yes, "Skelter" is much ado about Vincent Bugliosi - and rightly so. The prosecutor will forever have my respect, loyalty and admiration for removing these vicious killers from our midst. However, there are valid sociological lessons to be derived from his narrative. Most of Manson's followers (including the would-be messiah himself) endured difficult childhoods. However, a whole lot of us endure wrenching situations. Many seductive and charming people use these traits to lure vulnerable people to their licentious lair - but that doesn't give us license to commit unspeakable crimes. In the end, neither Manson nor his "family" elicit sympathy - not from this reader.
In March of 1978, after suffering a nervous breakdown and subsequently enrolling in an out-of-town college that fall, I was accosted on a daily basis by every Hairy Krishna, Moonie, self-professed religious zealot and would-be spiritual savoir on the campus. I couldn't speak very well back then, but I still refused these transparent ministrations - forcefully. Yes, I was disenfranchised. Yes, I was unbearably lonely. Yet I remembered something a wise priest once said, "Remove yourself from the occasion of sin, lest you fall into sin."
We should all, no matter what our religious preferences may or may not be, steer clear of false prophets. In the pantheon of sin, Manson was among the very worst of offenders. Not only did he lead his starry-eyed disciples into evil, he exploited them for his own aggrandizement. To be a destroyer of humanity (a transgression that can never be repaid - not in this life) must surely rank among the worst crimes of all.
My eternal thanks and gratitude go to Vincent Bugliosi for providing the victims and their families a most precious gift - justice. It can never bring back their loved ones, but as Doris Tate (Sharon Tate's mother) said, "After the convictions, we slept through the night for the first time since Sharons' death." The value of justice can never be adequately measured, just as the lives of those innocents lost can never be restored.
13 of 13 found the following review helpful:
The Definitive story by the prosecuting attorneyJun 26, 2003
By Schuyler V. Johnson
Bugliosi holds nothing back and gets as graphic as the case requires; this is not for delicate dispositions, it is a raw, brutal and monstrous example of what depravities evildoers are capable of when the right (or wrong) mix of degenerates come together.... Manson trolled the streets for the homeless, runaways and neglected disenfranchised youth and made them his own "family" to use a comforting term is a grotesque parody of what family means to all decent people. None of these people on their own would have come together and created this multi-personality Hydra Manson created; he has a special gift for gaining trust and making his worst depravities become reality by virtue of the control he wielded over these lost souls. This is evil, and the right ingredients were concocted to effect one of the worst serial killings of the twentieth century. The background was that Manson was brought up to the house on Cielo by Greg Jakobson who was involved with Manson on some dune buggy deals, and when he found out that Manson fancied himself a country singer he brought him to Cielo to meet Terry Melcher, Doris Day's son and a then record executive who listened to Charli's "music" and promised him, more facetiously than real, a recording contract. This was simply passing the time, and a fatuous, meaningless conversation that Manson took to heart, very seriously. When the contract never transpired, Manson felt betryaed by Melcher and wanted to get back at the pigs/establishment he saw as standing in the way of his success. Although he spent time trying to find Melcher, and when he contacted the Doris Day house in Beverly Hills, he was rebuffed. Melcher wisely ran up to Carmel to hide out with his mother. Manson, however, did know that there were people, Hollywood people, living there, and he made his plans from that information, to send a message. He sent his team, Susan Atkins, Tex Watkins, Leslie Van Houten et al., to kill the pigs...unfortunately, the people were the worse for wear, and Frykowski, a big tough Pole, was no match for the violence he woke up to; being stabbed multiple times he quickly lost blood and then they turned their attentions to Abigail Folger and Sharon Tate. Jay Sebring (black belt in karate) gallantly tried to protect Sharon, but he was no match for the numbers of the group and their sheer bloodlust. Up until tbat night, Manson was viewed with some wariness, as he was obviously rather disturbed, but the full extent of his madness was not discovered until that August night. I lived at the bottom of the hill where the house was, and arrived home around midnight and saw the car parked at the bottom of the steep road that led yup to the house...I thoguht it was kids making out. A Boy Scout leader a few miles away in Beverly Glen heard the screams, but the canyons have tricky acoustics and we heard nothing, right below the house. My brother had lived at the house when Melcher was there and made some offhand references to crazy Charlie, but he was nothing to be feared until that horrific night. The next morning I was awakend by many, amny cars going up the street, which was unusual, since it was a steep street, and we never got traffic; I looked out the window and counted twenty or more police cruisers and ambulances constantly traveling in a grim convoy up the street, and helicopters flying overhead...this went on all day, and after that, the circus started with tourists coming fom all over the United States to see the "murder house." I had met Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski at a small dinner party and never forgot how stunningly beautiful she was; absolutely breathtaking in person, and so sweet. The trial and the frightening lack of remorse was haunting, and we all armed ourselves with guns, not knowing if they would be back; when they were caught in a stolen car raid at the Spahn Ranch, everyone breathed easier....a friend of mine had a cabin in the Sierras and her mother drove up by herself one time and said she saw a schoolbus with hippies in it and they stared at her and as she told me alter "Gave her the chills." The combination of these lost souls came together and created a monster that tortured and murdered many people, inclduing Shorty Shea and the La Biancas. Th trial and the crime itself is recreated in meticulous detail and you must marvel at the tenacity and the will of Bugliosi to endure this several month long trial...and emerge victorious. The Supreme Court, in a questionable decision, rescinded the death penalty; but for that, they would more than likely have been executed by now. So they still come up for parole and they still get denied, and long may that continue, because there is no doubt whatsoever, despite claims of new found Christinaity, they would do harm to others when they could...this is a horrific glimpse into the minds and wills of people who are beyond any help or humanity; they are monsters.
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