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Helter Skelter [Paperback]

Vincent Bugliosi , Curt Gentry
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 29 2001
A national bestseller—7 million copies sold. 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 twentieth 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? Here is the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime. 50 pages of b/w photographs.

Both Helter Skelter and Vincent Bugliosi's subsequent Till Death Us Do Part won Edgar Allan Poe Awards for best true-crime book of the year. Bugliosi is also the author of Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O. J. Simpson Got Away with Murder (Norton, 1996) and other books. Curt Gentry, an Edgar winner, is the author of J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (available in Norton paperback) and Frame-Up: The Incredible Case of Tom Mooney and Warren Billings.

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Product Details

Product Description


One of the best crime stories ever written. -- Chicago Sun-Times

[A] social document of rare importance. -- The New Republic

About the Author

Vincent Bugliosi lives in Pasadena, California. Curt Gentry lives in San Francisco.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was so quiet, one of the killers would later say, you could almost hear the sound of ice rattling in cocktail shakers in the homes way down the canyon. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (as shocking now as it was then) March 11 2006
This page is already filled with superlatives for Mr. Bugliosi's brilliant chronicle of an unprecedented crime that signaled the end of an era. For me, what adds to the endless fascination of this unsettling tale (as shocking now as it was then) is that, unlike in our present era of cowardice, Bugliosi dares to take the high ground and actually incorporate his moral disgust and indignation into the narrative without sacrificing fairness or diluting the facts. Really, the only people who escape some sort of blame are the victims--and that is just as it should be.
I lived in the city of Granada Hills in 1969, about a 15-minute drive from the Spahn ranch and I still vividly recall those excruciatingly hot days after the Tate murders when the whole Los Angeles area seemed to freeze in its tracks, paralyzed by fear and shock. It wasn't an easy feeling to live with then--and it sticks with you. Whenever I revisit Mr Bugliosi's classic work, or the respectable miniseries it produced, those feelings come rushing back in waves. As horrific as the crimes were, the pall it cast over the entire era is almost as criminal. The sixties were much more than the sum of its parts and I, for one, am grateful to Mr. Bugliosi and others who defended our rights. This hardcover edition is most welcome--all classics deserve to be rescued from paperback as well as Norton has rescued this one.
Another great action thriller to read is by Giorgio Kostantinos- The Quest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for facts and court, but... July 3 2004
If what you want is an avalanche of factual detail about the Tate/LaBianca/Hinman murders, the investigation surrounding those murders, and the trials of Manson and some of his Family members, this is the book for you. It's clear that Bugliosi is a gifted prosecutor with a keen eye for detail and organizational abilities worthy of an Army quartermaster on campaign. The guy didn't miss a trick, and his version of events is compelling.
The book, however, would be more compelling by far if Bugliosi understood the meaning of the word "humble." In every facet of the investigation, in every recorded moment of the trial, he is right, and anyone who didn't have his ability with details and organization is wrong. I suppose the problem with exceptionally gifted people is that they often have little patience for those who operate at lesser levels.
Bugliosi's descriptions of the trial and the Everest-like proportions of evidence that needed to be sifted through, make it clear that it all he could do--with the help of LAPD, LASO, and other jurisdictions' police departments--to get his fact investigation taken care of. Certainly, had he not had different police detectives working for him, he never would have been able to present the case as he did. Yet he seems to think that the Manson Family defense attorneys should have been able to keep up with him and realize the significance of everything just as he did. He gives barely a nod to the fact that it was one's first trial, another had never won a trial before, all of them were working hard in a situation where they were probably under threat of their lives, and *none* of them were getting paid much if anything for their work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most harrowing crime stories ever... July 9 2004
I first read "Helter Skelter" the same summer I read "In Cold Blood." Both books left indelible images in my psyche and ensured I would never look at the world of crime and investigation the same again.
I've never read a book quite like HS since. Bugliosi and Gentry have written a taught and gripping blow-by-blow account of the two seemingly unconnected streams of events, the Tate/La Bianca murders and Manson's cult, how they horribly intersected and the breathtaking resolution.
Bugliosi's reminiscences provide both the personal anguish that the investigation caused him and his family and the urgent immediacy that gripped him and the community to see that justice was finally done.
Unforgettable and unflinching, "Helter Skelter" forces us to look into the eyes of evil and learn more about ourselves.
See also my reviews of the "Helter Skelter" TV movie and the audio book version.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing July 23 2007
i hate to say that i am an obsessor of the Manson Murders. but only because i think that it is a very interesting concept. although while reading this book i was frightened beyond belief! i loved this book and Bugliosi did a fantastic job not only as the prosecutor, but as an author! it's like he got into the mind of a madman! Charles Manson was a most unreal individual and Bugliosi did a wonderful job describing him and his Family. i loved how the book described and explained not only Manson, but his famed family members as well. this book takes you step by grueling step of the separate murder investigations of Tate-Labianca, Hinman, and many others as well as the courtroom trial hearings...including Mansons most famous line of all time...you know which one I'm speaking of. If you have seen the movie Helter Skelter, and even if you haven't, you should really consider buying this book. it is as good, if not better than the movie! sit back, get into the mind of a mastermind and see what truly was going on in his head...you will be amazed. and after you read this book, realize that Manson is still around today... Must also recommend the books: McCrae's KATZENJAMMER for great fun and weird situations, and the novel IN COLD BLOOD by Capote. Very good books, all.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A thank you message
I have been ordering books from Amazon for quite some time now. The following is no exception. I have found the ordering from Amazon to be easy and quite enjoyable. Read more
Published on May 21 2012 by Etobicoke lady
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
The author is amazing. The perspective of this book is fantastic as it is the crown prosecutor's. I had no questions left after reading this book. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2012 by Kle Sage
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put this book down...
I found this book very interesting and disturbing. It's all the details you would want to know about the Charles Manson case. Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2007 by Melanie
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put this book down...
I found this book very interesting and disturbing. It's all the details you would want to know about the Charles Manson case. Read more
Published on March 1 2007 by Melanie
5.0 out of 5 stars Still packs a punch
This book still packs quite a punch even after all these years. While it reminded me of other disturbing books such as "The Exorcist," "The Bark of the Dogwood"... Read more
Published on July 21 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this 20 years ago
I think that the previous reviews are correct in the fact that this book is very vivid with details and frightening, to say the least. Read more
Published on June 12 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars 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... Read more
Published on May 23 2004 by Annette Munson
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting tale of horror
CBS recently ran an absolutely awful made-for-TV movie allegedly based on this book. The movie was a pale imitation of this well written and thought provoking book. Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Helter Skelter - A must read for any true crime fan
I have read a few books over the years about Charles Manson & his "family", and none of them compare to this one. Read more
Published on May 18 2004 by Rick Alexander
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