Prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial Vincent Bugliosi held a unique insider's position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the 20th century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers. What motivated Manson in his seemingly mindless selection of victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Now available for the first time in unabridged audio, the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime is brought to life by acclaimed narrator Scott Brick.
©1974 Curt Gentry and Vincent Bugliosi, Afterword 1994 by Vincent Bugliosi (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
“One of the best crime stories ever written.” (Chicago Sun-Times)
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.
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.
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.
This was a recommendation, by my father and I'm really glad I took the time to listen. I wasn't alive when Sharon, Jay, Voytek, Abigail, Steven, Rosemary, Leno and of course baby Paul were murdered, but I grew up with a fear of the word
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.
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.
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.
Retired former magazine editor who is working harder than ever as Mr. Dad to his 13-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.
have to agree with previous reviewer, a great book well read and detailed, well it would be it was written by the prosecuting attourny 'vincent bugliosi' i enjoyed every minite of the almost 27 hours and will deffinatly be giving it another listen, would recomend this book to anyone curious of how/why sheep follow loonies and see them as gods.
"Absolutely fascinating study of evil"
Really brilliant book and very well narrated. I was sad to see it come to an end. For such heavy and horrific subject matter it is written in a way that gives an amazing insight into the 'mind' of evil and the power of cults...a really good buy, wouldn't hesitate to recommend to those who like true crime.
"Rich and detailed writing style"
An intensely detailed examination of one of the most shocking and culturally defining murders in American history. The rich and detailed writing style doesn't hamper the readers progress like in so many other books of this type. An intriguing story well narrated by Scott Brick.
"Evil: Step by Step"
In both print and on audio the book becomes more and more engrossing as it develops. It's length makes the audio version preferable for a second reading. There is so much detail only an unabridged version is acceptable.
The detail of the story, what might be described as the boring work of detection that a fiction thriller would leave out is the most compelling aspect of the story. Detectives, as they say, 'work the case' and in Helter Skelter it's clear what this really means. There's also a sense of people reacting to a murder in different ways,creating their own version of events when they don't know the truth, being unable to see the truth, because they have created their own narrative of the crime. What comes through step by step is the sense of evil: of people being able to decide and plan and want to murder, and to believe they have the right to murder. The facts of the case are famous, but the detail is what makes an engrosssing and morally insightful story.
I recognize the name Scott Brick, but don't track my audio books by performance. Brick's reading is slow and steady and clear. Some might say that this is not dramatic enough, but it would be a betrayal of the book to give it an over-dramatic reading. Brick also avoids any sort of accents or performance for the dialogue, which is also the right approach.
I read the book in print many years ago and decided to revisit it in audio. At 26 hours its not a book for a single sitting. Its a book I will listen to for an hour and then leave for some time, treating it more like a serial than single story. 26 parts is a long tale. Also there are a lot of people and events. Its more involving to mull over events, rather than consume them at one gulp. The book is structured to move slowly towards the killers, chronologically, this does work as a dramatic device. The public history means that you know who will be convicted, but the book recreates this process, giving you a sense that how things turned out were not always inevitable and clear.
A book like Donna Tartt's The Secret History, a fictional crime story, is lauded as a literary work, and this is justified. There's always some sense that a true crime story is more sensationalist and morally tawdry compared to true literature. There is badly written true crime, but Helter Skelter is written with the detail and diligence that makes it a great book. It's a social novel, about people who lived and worked in Hollywood in the sixties and a study of a 'cult'. Both these topics are often treated superficially, but in working from the facts, using the development as the investigation as an insight into the people, their motives and personality become understood.
"Totally gripping from start to finish"
Every step in the bizarre story explained in minute and fascinating detail. Beautifully narrated by Scott Brick.
"I was rivited...memorable, classic true crime"
impressive documentation. Not just of the criminal case, but also of the times. Well written and very well narrated.
"Very deep insight into the trial"
I enjoyed this audiobook overall. I was looking for a book in depth as possible for the entire Manson story as I knew nothing of it. The book was massively in depth but, obviously being written by the DA it dealt very deeply with details of the case. I would defiantly like to read a book more about Manson and whatever legacy his crimes made and this book gives firm foundation of how it came to be.
"Detailed and fascinating"
The subject matter was well re-told by the author who was objective and clearly had a thorough knowledge of this famous crime.
The subject itself of the Manson Family and their killings
"Detailed and gripping"
Fascinating, engaging and detailed
The description of the two murder sites (and the casual way the killers acted then and in court). That is two really but hey.
No I have not listened to this narrator elsewhere
All the facts - balanced and delivered
If you enjoy 'true crime' then this is an important book for you. Even though the author was the prosecutor he gives a balanced account of the events and evidence. A good book well told.
"Great book, well read"
Yes. Although its long I wasn't bored at all. I was interested from start to finish and the details about the crimes and people are interesting enough to want to hear again.
I've not listened to anything like this before but would definitely look for others now
I found all the characters (people) equally interesting for their own reasons
Listening to the testimonies during the trial
I didn't know any details about Charles Manson only the name. It's so true what is said towards the end... listen ;) Next stop The Beatles album...
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