People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
The prosecutor who convicted Charlie Manson and several members of his family to death for a sensational series of brutal murders in 1969 tells the complete story of the crimes, the investigation, the trial -- and the Family. Complete.
Fascinating, horrifying, addictive listening. Like a 25-hour long episode of Law and Order. To his credit Bugliosi does not preach about how these crimes fit into the history and culture of the times (until the afterword he wrote 25 years later, included herein). He is content to stick to the facts.
Hard as it is to imagine in hindsight, convicting Manson was far from a slam dunk. A lot of painstaking investigative work was required, especially in proving Manson's motive and methods of manipulation. Helter Skelter. Not to mention that all of the participants constantly feared for their lives (one did fall victim to the Family during the trial and one barely escaped death).
The only problem with this audio edition is the narrator, the ubiquitous and uniquely aggravating Scott Brick. Not too bad this time around, probably due to the dearth of dialogue. But as always, crank the speed up to a least 1.2x to deal with Brick's ponderous pace.
A compelling true crime tale is nothing unless it's told with the proper organization, discriminating and orderly presentation of details and all sculpted into a story arc. "Helter Skelter" sets the bar in each of these areas.
I read this book as a teen and it stuck with me these thirty-plus years. Seeing it on audio, I was wondering if I would be interested in giving it thirty hours of my life. Man, I'm glad I did.
It was so intense, at times I thought I'd have to stop listening. It gets in your head a bit. By turns, this book is horrifying, fascinating, sad, edifying and, ultimately a history lesson on crime in America, the 1960s, cults and the judicial system, not to mention Manson and his Family..
I can't recommend it highly enough. Just don't listen in the dark.
Cranky elderly writer/copy editor
This book is the reason I joined audible.com! I have probably read it ten times since it first came out, and once even borrowed the most unsatisfying abridged version from the library. There are no wasted words in this story -- shortening it takes away from its immediacy. The crimes were horrendous for their era -- or for any era -- and there is an all-star cast. Tate! Polanski! The Beach Boys! And who would have expected that the scruffy little runt, Charlie Manson, would someday rival them for fame?
This is crisp prose, crisply read by Scott Brick [I always wondered how to pronounce the name of the "Ouchterlony test"] without unnecessary dramatics. The "updates" that take up the last hour or so, while out of date now, are still more than were included in the copy I owned. Final word: Anything that can engage my I-hate-true-crime husband and drag him away from his computer the better to listen intently is a real winner.
So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.
The late 60's and early 70's is such a fascinating period to me. I was born in the midst of that time, but don't have much recollection of it. Maybe it's because I don't understand that era, but it seems absolutely inconceivable that a little (5'2"), crazy guy who just got out of prison could "recruit" so many nice-looking young women to do ANYTHING he wanted them to. After the book ended I have spent a lot of time pondering how this could have happened. It is a truly amazing story.
If you like learning about history, and crime stories you've got to listen to this book. Since finishing it I've spent a lot more time Googling the different characters in an effort to learn more about them, and what made them act the way they did.
I highly recommend this book. It's a big plus that the story is written by the prosecuting attorney in the case. He has lots of inside information he shares throughout the book that helps you feel like you are getting the whole story.
Before this book I thought Manson was the scariest man alive. After I was much more afraid of the young women. He's evil and everything but the girls they are so young and fresh faced when the girls walk into a home they aren't suposed to be in people aren't really freaked out about them, till the stabbing begins. There were so many girls willing to kill for him, I wonder how many are still out there. It's not like the Manson family hasn't been keeping up it's membership in the last 48 years. Creepy crawlers and so many unsolved murders. It was completely thought provoking, I still can't understand how humans to fall so far off the rails.
I was unsure, from the reviews, if I would like this book. I really did. But I wanted to write a small review to clear up a few things:
- This is *not* a horror book, nor is it likely to scare you if you can watch an average episode of CSI. Don't come here to be *scared*
- This book *is* a (mostly) subjective insight into one of the biggest cases of the prior century, and makes some interesting observations about human nature -- from the level of violence, culture, counter-culture, media, and law -enforcement. This is why I put the word "legal" in block capitals surrounded by multiple asterix in my headline. This is a fairly technical book about the crime, investigation and trial. It manages to be quite detailed without being at all dry or uninteresting.
- It's also not a sensational book. It feels mostly quite fair and impartial, with a few exceptions. If you're a Manson "fan" or a serial-killer junkie -- you'll probably not get too much out of this. This book deals with facts, and in my mind that's a lot more interesting.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
I am just now getting around to this classic crime book which was hugely popular when I was a teen. A chilling portrait of the schizophrenic psychopath behind the Hollywood Hills murders, complete with marvelous narrative descriptions of the events of the murders, investigations and trials. I would rank it with Graysmith's Zodiac, and slightly above Singular's Unholy Messenger, though somewhat below the all-time greatest crime book, Capote's novelization of the great American crime, In Cold Blood. Still, Bugliosi's book, like Graysmith's gives you enough to think about the darker side of human nature to keep you up at night--and, like Graysmith's book, it is masterfully written.
I've wanted to read/listen to this book since I first saw it almost thirty years ago. Thanks to Audible, I finally got the chance. To my delight, the book remained readable, interesting, and even relevant almost 40 years later (and over 40 years from most of the events described in the book).
Scott Brick is a terrific narrator, and helps to keep a very long book interesting.
There is a new(er) afterword, written in 1994. Bugliosi spends a good deal of time on the "Where Are They Now?" aspect for most of the many players in this drama, which adds to the overall listening experience.
Retired former magazine editor who is working harder than ever as Mr. Dad to his 14-year-old daughter.
As someone who usually listens to mystery/thriller books, it was interesting to enter into the non-fiction world of the genre. I was alive at the time of the Manson murders but had forgotten much of the details. Bugliosi does an excellent job of recreating the events that took place on the horrible night 44 years ago. If I had one complaint it would be he did too thorough a job of telling the story. I didn't keep count but the cast of characters had to exceed 100 in the 26.5-hour narration. The main characters were easy enough to keep track of, but some of the minor ones got gobbled up in the incredibly detailed recounting. I would recommend this book to both those who were alive at the time of the murders and to those for whom the story is truly history to them.