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Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

A book by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry.

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Scaring myself to death in the dark

  • Oct 3, 2010
OK, I read Helter Skelter when I was in high school back in the mid 70s.  I remembered it being very intense, but I'm an adult now, and hadn't given much thought to just how intense this account of the Manson murders really is.

So rereading it while I was alone in an apartment in Manchester, UK a long way from anyone I know and love was probably a mistake.  I realized from page one that I was going to need light (every light in the apartment) and noise (both TVs turned on and up, sometimes to two different channels just for the background sound) to keep me company.  Yikes, Bugliosi's powerful and relentlessly linear account of two nights of  murder is creepier than any shelf full of horror or thriller fiction.

Fortunately it wasn't until the afterward (added in 1994 on the 25th anniversary of the murders) that I learned that Manchester, where I read the book while on assignment for my employer, was the center of a neo-Manson movement!  Also fortunately, the book is so compelling I found that I was able to finish it in just a few days of reading ever spare well-lit moment. 

Even the legal aspects are fascinating, including Bugliosi's effort to prove that Manson was guilty of the murders even though he never actually committed any of them with a gun or a knife in his hand.  Relentless is the term that comes to mind again to describe Bugliosi's efforts, eventually successful against some long odds, to build an unassailable case for Manson's guilt and motive (the coming "helter skelter" that would lead to a world in the flames of a race war and in search of a leader).

Just don't read it alone in the dark.

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More Helter Skelter: The True Story... reviews
review by . May 25, 2010
More than you ever thought you'd know about the Manson Family.
As a crime television show lover and a fan of reading about true crimes, I was all over Helter Skelter when I first read about the Manson Family and the havoc that they wreaked.      Vincent Bugliosi, who cowrote this book with Curt Gentry, was the prosecutor of this case and I'm so glad that he chronicled his brush with the case in Helter Skelter.  Not too many others could have offered the same insights as Bugliosi did.  He's one of few people who had …
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
A part of our history everyone should read. It is amazing to see the level of mind control.
review by . July 07, 2010
DELETE THESE QUESTIONS IF/AFTER YOU RESPOND!!        I was terrrified and shocked that one person could have so much control over anyone. I would recommend this to true crime readers, but not for the faint.  I watch and read alot of true crime but none have left me so scared and horrified as this one.  I read it when I was younger and almost couldn't finish it because of how scare I was.  Thought since I was older it would be different but it wasn't.  …
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
guaranteed to fulfill your morbid curiosity!
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
The District Atorney who prosecuted rhe Manson family produces a well writtren and insightful book into the Manson family.
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Such a strange but true happening
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Interesting chronology of a gruesome crime.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
charlie manson is a true physco killer in every form
review by . June 20, 2010
   I first read the book in high school for a case study that i was doing for a Forensics class. Once i started reading this book i couldn't stop the way this book was written was simply amazing. The whole book was an in depth look of the Manson Family and their killings the trials after. It was such an interesting book, the amount of information you get in this book about the whole process of the murders is very impressive. One would ask how Vincent Bugliosi would be able to get this …
Quick Tip by . June 20, 2010
amazing book that puts you at the scene of the murders. Very detailed, felt like i was at the scene of the murders and they also get you in depth with all the forensic science that was involved.
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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About this book


Helter Skelter is a true crime book by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. The subject of the book is the 1969 Manson Family murders and Bugliosi's own prosecution of Charles Manson and his followers.

Helter Skelter was first published in the United States in 1974 and became a bestseller. The book takes its title from the song by The Beatles, with which Manson was obsessed. Manson used the phrase for an anticipated race war. Helter Skelter won a 1975 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime book and was the basis for two movies, released in 1976 and 2004.

According to the director of the 2008 movie The Strangers, this book was the main influence for the story line of the movie, contrary to any other stories that have been posted around the internet since the film's release.
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Author: Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry
Genre: True Crime, Historical Biography, Crime & Criminals

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