Michaud and Aynesworth are a reporter and an investigator team who interviewed serial killer Ted Bundy while he was on death row in Florida. This volume chronicles his activities throughout several states but is at its best in a long section of transcripts from the interview in which, while he never admits his quilt, Bundy offers vivid details of the crimes and commentary on the mindset of a serial killer. This revised edition includes some additional information. Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Bundy was a textbook sexual psychopath. The Only Living Witness answers all the questions about one of America's worst monsters. It is a timeless classic." -- Robert Ressler, former FBI profiler, and author of Whoever Fights Monsters, and I Have Lived in the Monster
"Michaud's and Aynesworth's classic is as valuable to the police and to the public today as ever. It's a must read if you want to understand serial sex killers." -- Robert D. Keppel, PhD, author of Signature Killers, Riverman: Ted Bundy, and I Hunt for the Green River Killer
"The Only Living Witness towers over the rest of the Ted Bundy bookshelf. It is the work of two great reporters . . .a monument to book-length journalism." -- Jack Olsen, best-selling author of The Misbegotten Son and other works
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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
One of the better books on BundyJune 1 2001
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For those that are willing to explore the murderous rampage of one of America's worst killers, this book is a very good road map. It covers most of the ground, including Bundy's youth and his years as a student and volunteer before murder became his primary occupation. Journalists Michaud and Aynesworth also managed to convince Bundy to grant them a lengthy series of prison interviews. Bundy was still being prosecuted actively in the state of Florida at the time and he at first refused to discuss anything about the crimes themselves. The authors proposed that Bundy instead "speculate" about the person(s) who were responsible for the crimes. Bundy took the bait, and the results litter the pages of the book. Bundy obviously enjoyed talking about murder and rape and his supposed objectivity doesn't hide his excitement. However, the mind of a sociopath is one that is governed by self-preservation, and Bundy would never give too much detail for fear of incriminating himself. Certain murders he refused to discuss at all. When Aynesworth tried to prompt Bundy to talk by pointing out inconsistencies or inaccuracies in his stories, Bundy grew angry and threatened to stop giving interviews. In the end, that's basically what he did; he stopped giving meaningful information even as he protested that he'd answered everything that the authors had asked of him. This book provides a great deal of information about the life, crimes, and victims of an astonishingly successful serial killer. Even so, because the book was researched and written in the early 1980s, many details of Bundy's methods were still unknown and therefore are not included. Also, while Bundy's own words are initially very fascinating to read, they quickly become repetitive and finally evasive. These flaws are fairly small and it is hard to blame the authors for circumstances that were beyond their control, but nevertheless this book doesn't quite deliver what the reader is hoping for. Still, this book is well-written and thorough -- a better-than-average true crime book.
82 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Something wicked this way cameMarch 3 2003
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There is something about the purely evil entity known as the serial killer that fascinates us endlessly, even as it repels us. Do these individuals inhabit the same world the rest of us live in? What is it that drives one to relentlessly stalk and murder other human beings like a tiger hunting prey? And even tigers kill only to satisfy a physical hunger; what kind of hunger drives the likes of Ted Bundy? Power? Sadism? Something so hideous that a "normal" mind can't begin to fathom it? We wonder what it would be like to live inside the head of such a person, but at the same time we pull back: it probably wouldn't be very nice in there. Hugh Aynesworth, an investigative reporter, and Stephen G. Michaud, a writer for Newsweek, have written an exhaustive, well documented account of Ted Bundy's rampage through four states that left at least thirty young women dead. They explore Bundy's life in detail from his problematic childhood to his college years, during which he developed his consummate skill as a con artist and pathological liar. He wasn't every teenage girl's dream, but he had his share of girlfriends; he came from a broken home but his mother clearly cared about him and tried to be a good parent. He didn't know his father, but neither did a million other boys who never went on to become serial murderers. So who or what made Bundy Bundy? Aynesworth and Michaud suggest that it doesn't matter, Bundy was Bundy, period, and as such, the blame and responsibility for his crimes rest with him alone. We follow Bundy in this book from his first murder in Washington State, through subsequent homicides in Utah and Colorado, his sensational escape from custody by jumping out of a second floor window, and his flight to Florida, where in a single explosion of homicidal rage he bludgeoned two girls to death and severely battered three more after invading their sorority house, before his final murder of a 12 year old who disappeared from a junior high school. The last killing represented a chilling turn: was Bundy going after younger and younger prey? One wonders if he might not have abducted children from elementary schools before he was finally caught. Like all psychopaths before him and those who will come after him, Bundy never had a shred of compassion or guilt in regard to any of his victims. When he related his crimes to Michaud and Aynesworth, he insisted on talking about himself in the third person, as if Bundy the killer was a separate entity unrelated to himself. Perhaps that's how he could live with himself during the four years his crime spree lasted: someone else was committing these murders, not him. However Bundy tried to rationalize, deny or explain away his actions, one gets through this excellent book emotionally drained, and feeling very grateful that he is no longer on this planet to remind us of the insanity he caused while he walked among us.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Ted Bundy Revealed!May 20 2002
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This classic gives insight into the mind of the Serial Sex Killer, Ted Bundy. Described variously as "handsome, smooth talking, erratic and charming" except one thing he killed women descriminately. This gives a detailed account (as Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth researched it and did interviews with family, friends, girlfriends, the sympathic wife who believed Bundy was innocent to the end and wouldn't hear otherwise.... and Bundy himself straight from Death Row in 1980. Bundy, himself, wouldn't discuss the murders as if he did it, he never said he was guilty of the crimes, he always claimed he was innocent (even as he went to the the executioner in 1989). So Michaud and Aynesworth made a deal with him that he didn't have to discuss them as if he did it, he could discuss them as if discuss a psychological case, and Bundy agreed to that. So Bundy discusses his crimes and his "entity" (as he called it) in third person throughout the book. Bundy was a textbook sexual psychopath who terrorized the College communities of Washington, Utah and Florida over a span of years. He left none if little evidence so he was very hard to catch. As all serial killers do, they get cocky and so self-assured they won't get caught that they make a mistake and Ted Bundy made his mistake in Florida around the University in Tallahassee where he was caught. The Only Living Witness answers all the questions about one of America's worst monsters. It is a timeless classic. It covers most of Bundy's life, including his youth and his years as a student and volunteer before murder became his primary occupation and after ... when the first 4 or 5 girls went missing and he volunteered to "help" the DES with the searches for the women as a credit for his law school course, or so he would have his girlfriend (at the time) believe. I finished the book with a sense of fright for those women never found, and sadness for the families that won't get to bury the missing women, and the family and friends of Ted Bundy who was so manipulated and conned by their son and friend so much they believed in his innocence until he at last confessed the murders. A brilliant brilliant read and research source into the mind of a mass serial killer and sexual defiant psychopath. His crimes are as vivid and studied today as they were when he was being hunted and caught!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
In His Own Words.June 5 2006
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Many books have been written about Ted Bundy and none are better known that Ann Rule's "Stranger Beside Me". While the author of this book refuses to mention Rule by name, the story in this book is much the same. Michaud's book does however go a step further than Rule in "The Only Living Witness."
Thirty females died at the hands of Ted Bundy. The stories of the murders are told largely the same in any credible book about the subject. The interviews with Bundy set this book apart. The interesting part of the interviews is that Bundy refuses to admit guilt. However, Bundy does tell how he believes the killings happened through a third person account. In almost a bi-polar reality, Bundy does confess through these interviews. The author varies the chronological order of events early in the book, but stays on a straight course after the initial chapters. If you acquire a newer printing of the book, you will also be able to read about Bundy's final days and admission to his crimes in his own words, without disguise of a third person account.
There were aspects of this book that I like better than other books about Ted Bundy. Yet there was no part of this book that sets it out as the definitive Ted Bundy book. Still, it is a very well written and well researched book.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Bundy as Nobody Ever Saw HimFeb. 8 2000
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Ted Bundy was such a chameleon that few really knew him. This book delves into his mind and heart -- with deft interviewing and superb writing, it is the absolute text to help understand serial murderers. The authors did not try to capitalize on the gore that today's society finds so appealing, but bored in on that which showed how this man was molded into the animal he became. I recall one woman author (and alleged good friend of Bundy) who tried to psychoanalyze him though she had seen him only once in person the last 15 years of his life. She even admitted that on that one occasion she was afraid to ask him if he was guilty! None of that superficial clap trap in this book. Should have six stars!