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)
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.
Excellent and well read. Really very depressing though. Such a horrendous thing to have happened.
"Forensically detailed - but worth it"
The book starts where the whole investigation would have begun - the discovery of the horrific crime scene of the Sharon Tate murders at 10050 Cielo Drive, Berkeley, LA. From there we are taken - via grisly descriptions - to the identification and subsequent clearing of early suspects, through to the growing signs pointing towards the Manson 'Family', the spreading investigation, and then arrests, trial and convictions of the killers.
Along the way we learn - as prosecutor and author Bugliosi would have learned - the backgrounds and psychology of everyone involved, from Manson himself through a whole cast of characters, some killers, some ordinary Family members, contacts, victims, people who 'just passed through' or - like Susan Atkins' cellmates - who were simply unwilling recipients of her crazed confession/boasts about the crimes.
The book is very long and full of forensic detail right from the very start. It is at times very repetitive as we hear the same things from different witnesses, and then repeated again in Bugliosi's and others' reports, and brought out yet again at the trial. Although the Tate and LaBianca murders are the central crimes, there is also much attention paid to other victims thought to have been killed by Manson Family members.
You might think that all this fine detail and repetition would make for a boring account... but no, it grips relentlessly and won't let you go. Compelling, hypnotic, revolting, but never boring. It's only towards the end that you realise it was written in 1974, but there is a lengthy 'Afterword' by Bugliosi which brings the story up to 1994, tells of the unexpected public obsession with Manson, and the subsequent fate of everyone involved in the matter including judge, attorneys, and prosecutors.
Scott Brick's reading is steady, authoritative yet undramatic, and suits the subject matter perfectly.
"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...
"More like a report than a story"
Despite being described as 'the true story' and the use of the expression 'brings to life', the first 6 hours of this book consisted of over elaborate and detailed narration of the steps in the investigation and the evidence in the case. I appreciate it is a true account, but I expected it to be told with the colour and characterisation of a story rather than in the mundane style of a police report. I gave up after the first 6 hours. Maybe the next 20 might change the perspective or 'bring it to life' as promised. I don't have the stamina to find out. Sorry.
Over obsessed with Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. Other murder victims are not acknowledged as they should be. The level of detail relating the legal aspects makes this a laborious read. Had to keep repeating chapters as my mind kept wandering. Didn't finish the book, gave up fairly early on.
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