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122 of 130 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.
85 of 94 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.
63 of 70 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.
26 of 28 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.
47 of 54 found the following review helpful:
Murder Mystery SolvedMay 31, 2007
By Edwin C. Pauzer
One night in 1969 in Los Angeles, California, there were several murders at the home of movie producer Roman Polanski who was away on a trip. One of the victims was Sharon Tate, a beautiful but talentless actress who was eight months pregnant. A short drive away there were two more murders of Rosemary and Leno LaBianca. On their refrigerator, inscribed in their blood were the misspelled words, "Healter [sic] Skelter."
Fear gripped the city while the LAPD began the manhunt for the killers. With the arrest of Charles Manson, it is up to a prosecutor named Vincent Bugliosi to prosecute one of the most difficult charges of all--conspiracy to commit murder.
That is what this story is about--murder, the bungling, the luck, the disappearances and murder of lawyers, the trial and the prosecution that had to bend and adjust to ensure killers did not walk free.
While this book is several years old, it is still thrilling in how it can inspire fear because it was real, and because truth is stranger than fiction.
The final irony is that a number of these murderers who freely admitted to, and evenly gleefully revealed their lack of mercy during their unspeakable crimes, now blame Charles Manson for what they had done.
If you can find someone else to take the responsibility, then you can avoid seeing yourself for what you are-- murderers.
Gripping, taut, all too real.
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