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Paperback Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders Book

ISBN: 0393322238

ISBN13: 9780393322231

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

In the summer of 1969, in Los Angeles, a series of brutal, seemingly random murders captured headlines across America. A famous actress (and her unborn child), an heiress to a coffee fortune, a supermarket owner and his wife were among the seven victims. A thin trail of circumstances eventually tied the Tate-LeBianca murders to Charles Manson, a would-be pop singer of small talent living in the desert with his "family" of devoted young women and...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings


A very in depth, long, enjoyable story of the Manson murders. I enjoyed every second of this book and how well it was written but easy to understand. Bravo

Vince Bugliosi Takes on "Christ" - and Triumphs

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, a

Fast, Full, and Scary

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.


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. HoytOnly the absolute BEST pieces of art recieve the highest rating on the universal scale of stars. Hint, hint.

A frightening, destructive close to the idealistic 60's

"If this was not a proper case for the death penalty, no case ever would be." In that one sentence, Vincent Bugliosi sums up exactly how horrific, senseless and sadistic these murders were. This is definitely not a case study for the squeamish, and Bugliosi leaves no stone unturned in his prosecution, as well as his investigation, of the Manson murders. Co-author Curt Gentry narrates the first half of the book in the omniscient third-person, informing readers of the stark facts. On August 9, 1969, 10050 Cielo Drive went from being Sharon Tate's "love house" to a slaughter house where 5 victims (Tate, her friends Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowsky, and an unknown bystander, Steven Parent) were stabbed repeatedly, and in some cases, shot. The most horrifying image is the death of Sharon herself, who was nearly nine months pregnant, and in her most vulnerable state. The following night, August 10, Rosemary & Leno LaBianca were the victims of the massacre. Aside from the graphic nature of the crimes, messages had been printed in blood. Among them was a mispelled one: "Healter Skelter". Gentry gives details on the LAPD investigation. At times, the police come off as the Keystone Kops with their obvious mistakes (for instance, an officer presses the gate buzzer at the Tate residence, obliterating the bloody fingerprint originally left there). In other instances, some officers are shown to be thorough in their interviewing techniques and investigations (most notably Dianne Lake, a former member of the Manson family). When Gentry begins to unravel the horrors of one Charles Manson, a small-time pimp and criminal who had spent most of his life in federal prison, the narration is at its most compelling. Eventually, one of the perpetrators of the "Helter Skelter" murders, Susan Atkins aka Sadie Mae Glutz, blabs to her cellmates once too often, and (thankfully) gets the killers arrested. Bugliosi gets assigned to the case. Bugliosi apologizes for the abrupt change in the narration, since he picks it up in the first person singular. However, his ability to relate the details of the case, the personalities of the killers and victims, the forgotten clues, interviews with understandably frightened witnesses, and his analysis of the dynamics of the Manson Family will soon make the reader forget this change in the "voice". Bugliosi is a trial lawyer who puts 150% into his work, and to read his account of why he had to prove motive, how he got the maximum amount of information from his witnesses, etc., is to read a masterpiece. It's rare to see any lawyer that dedicated to his job. Bugliosi not only has an eye for details that are seemingly unimportant at first, he also has the ability to articulate the main points of the case in a manner which is easily understood by someone unfamiliar with criminal law--a rare combination. The trial was almost as bizarre as the murder, with the defendants behaving as if they wer

Helter Skelter: The True Story of The Manson Murders Mentions in Our Blog

Helter Skelter: The True Story of The Manson Murders in Staff Picks: The Scariest Books & Movies
Staff Picks: The Scariest Books & Movies
Published by Amanda Cleveland • October 23, 2022

Because it's the spookiest season, I tasked our staff to tell everyone 1) the scariest book they've ever read, and/or 2) the scariest movie they've ever seen, and 3) explain themselves with a quote so that you all might feast upon our tasty, tasty fear and maybe get scared yourself!

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