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True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  2,787 Ratings  ·  343 Reviews
In the haunting tradition of Joe McGinniss's Fatal Vision and Mikal Gilmore's Shot in the Heart, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa weaves a spellbinding tale of murder, love, and deceit with a deeply personal inquiry into the slippery nature of truth.

The story begins in February of 2002, when a reporter in Oregon contacts New York Times Magazine writer Michael Finkel w
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30)
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Sarju Shrestha Marzullo
Omg! What a book! I picked this book because I saw the preview of the movie.Since it is based on true story I wanted to understand the story before it hits in the movie theater . I started reading the book three days ago and could not rest until I finished it.
This story is about a con man who is convicted of murdering his whole family, who performed many illegal work and impersonated a real New York Times journalist, Michael Finkel.
This is very interesting memoir from of the writer who falls fr
Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D. Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
What's one man's demise is another's redemption...or is it?, June 2, 2006

Michael Finkel wrote this book in an effort to alter the popular opinion that he is a dishonest reporter who falsified his articles. He wrote with one objective in mind - to emerge as a talented author and honest human being. But was he able to do so? It's up to the readers to decide.

What's the book about? As it turned out, a serial murderer used Mr. Finkel's identity to
Jennifer Willis
Mar 14, 2014 Jennifer Willis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I could accurately estimate the percentage of time I spent with my mouth hanging open or the number of times I exclaimed, out loud, "Oh, my God!" while reading this book. The sheer audacity and calculated rationalizing of Chris Longo -- the convicted murderer around whom this story revolves -- are at once both mesmerizing and horrifying.

"True Story" is the perfect title for this book, wherein the author struggles with the honesty/dishonesty of his subject, even as he comes clean ab
Jul 16, 2015 Aditi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews, memoir
Waste of money.. everything sounds like a lie. Recently it's movie adaption compelled me to buy this book, unfortunately the book is not that worthy or anything delightful to read about. I mean who wants to read about a smart-ass manipulative mass-murderer who killed off his whole family of three children and a wife. In fact the author doesn't sound so real, I mean he was trying to prove his worth to his fans. But I tell you, it didn't work! Anyhow, the protagonist put me off!
Mary Frances
This book is most interesting for the way one narcissist, the author, tells the story of his relationship with another, the murderer/ con man Chris Longo. Over and over in the book I find these insincere comments by the author about his fictional article that got him fired from the New Yorker, about the lies he tells to his subject which he tries to justify while "regretting" the lies, about his insincerity with others. It's kind of fascinating in that regard. As a comprehensive study of either ...more
Diane Yannick
Apr 10, 2017 Diane Yannick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, I started with The Stranger in the Woods, then backed up to read this one. Another fascinating story that I couldn't put down. Truth truly can be stranger than fiction. The utter audacity of Chris Longo boggled my mind. That he could murder his family yet carry on with his dramatic charade is mind boggling. After murdering his family, Longo impersonates Michael Finkel during his Mexican "vacation". The real Finkel had just been fired from the NYT for making a composite character and careless ...more
Bonnie Faust
Sep 14, 2014 Bonnie Faust rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finkel is a disgraced journalist whose own hubris led him to lie about one of his stories about child slavery in Africa. Longo is a disgraced husband and father whose own narcissism led to the murder of his wife and three children and subsequent identity theft of Finkel (in name only, as an alias).

The two strike up an unlikely and tenuous friendship when Longo is arrested, and each uses this "friendship" to their own advantage. The result is an interesting study in the line between ego and pers
Jul 18, 2015 Sean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
The story is interesting enough, but there's only so much ego-stroking I can handle.

Finkel and Longo, the two narcissists at the center of the story, have more in common than I think Finkel cares to acknowledge. Their story shares the same narrative. In a work of fiction, I would consider this an interesting layer to the story. One is a mirror of the other. But this isn't fiction. These two people exist.

Finkel views True Story as his redemption story. Through the trial of Longo, he learns the d
Sherry Chandler
My son was assigned this book to read in an MFA class in nonfiction, and because he left it lying around, I picked it up and read the first few pages. It is a very well written book so I continued reading to the end. But the longer I read, the more I wondered why I was spending my time reading the tale of two liars and why I should believe Finkel's assertions that his association with Longo had allowed him to reform himself when he had just told us all the times Longo himself had sworn himself r ...more
Morgan Williams
Apr 29, 2007 Morgan Williams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book starts out as a somewhat interesting look at what can happen to a journalist, or a writer of creative non-fiction, if they stray from the truth. He is, presumably, completely honest in his account of his disgrace with the New York Times, and his apparent willingness to help others avoid his mistakes is quite admirable. Unfortunately, the book quickly turns into the literary equivalent of one of those sordid television courtrooms, and his personal involvement with Longo overshadows what ...more
Kimba Tichenor
This book chronicles the relationship that developed between disgraced NYT writer Michael Finkel and Christian Longo, who murdered his wife and 3 children. The two men become friends after Finkel has been fired from the NYT for falsifying information in a news story. In a bizarre turn of events, Finkel learns that a murderer while on the run had taken his name and identity as his own. Wanting to learn why him, he writes Christian Longo and thus begins their intimate friendship, one characterized ...more
Erika Nerdypants
I wanted to not like this book, really, I did. What's to like about the story of a husband brutally murdering his wife and three small children, especially when that story is told by an investigative reporter fired from the New York Times for falsifying details of a cover story? And yet, there is no denying that Michael Finkel wrote a page turner here, that's riveting precisely because this is the meeting of two, in the end very similar narcissists. Because if there is one thing Finkel does in t ...more
Nov 18, 2015 Brittany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to give this two stars, but I had to add a star simply because this was such a page turner for me. Two extremely narcissistic personalities competing to one up each other. There wasn't anything truly outstanding about any of the information obtained by Finkel from Longo regarding his case, so if that is what you are looking for you might try another source. There was however, a look in to the ways habitual liars even lie to themselves. Always trying to rationalize and justify their acti ...more
Jan 02, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me yesterday, and I finished it today. Obviously, I could not put it down. Literally.

This is a memoir sprung from coincidence. The author, Finkel, is exposed for having created a composite character in a story he wrote for the New York Times Magazine, at the exact moment when a man named Christian Longo murders his family, flees to Mexico, and begins using Finkel's identity as a writer for the Times.

I was drawn to the story originally for the true crime aspect of i
Amy Roy
Mar 25, 2017 Amy Roy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put it down. It is Saturday and there are so many things I should be doing, but I have sat, almost frozen in my comfy chair - turning page after page. This story is one that will stay with me for a while.
♥ Marlene♥

This book made me feel awful about the world today. So 2 lying nasty narcissists both got what they want. Longo was given a friend and someone he could tell all his lies to and him staying in control which is very important for men like him. Then the author gave this horrible man a voice. He let this man lie to him and even wrote all his lies down as if they are true!! He befriended him and liked him and that says enough to me.

Even Longo's mum warned him that everybody at first thought
Apr 22, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A quick and haunting read. Finkel, a disgraced NYTimes writer, finds out that a man suspected of murdering his entire family has been posing as him while on the lam in Mexico. His journalistic instincts, if not his career, still intact, the author embarks on a strange, intense relationship with the accused in the months leading up to his capital murder trial. As someone burned by the flames of invention, Finkel tries - tries - to give as "true" an account, of the relationship and the facts of th ...more
Daniel Kohl
Aug 12, 2015 Daniel Kohl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read. Sad and wrenching.

Expertly written and flows well. The content reads like fiction and that is what is so sad. This guy is a monster but it did make think and turn inward. Or maybe i'm just kidding myself.
Jul 17, 2015 Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating! My second true crime after In Cold Blood and I might be hooked.
Oct 08, 2015 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was absolutely mesmerised by this True Story. Couldn't put it down!!
Aug 17, 2014 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a fascinating story!!
Dennis Littrell
Apr 28, 2010 Dennis Littrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Finkel, Michael. True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa (2005) *****
Brilliantly done, but unsettling

I found this fascinating. I stayed up until two o'clock in the morning to finish it. It is a true crime story written in a clear, elegant style. Every sentence is polished, and every sentence is planned and placed in exactly the right place. There is no obvious striving for effect, no lurid prose, no fancy writing. Michael Finkel employs what George Orwell once called the invisible style. The writi
May 23, 2016 Ethan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
True Story by Michael Finkel, who had just been fired from the New York Times
following writing a fraudulent article, is a memoir. Not just written for the sole purpose of
telling the story of Chris Longo, but written, orchestrated, to depict the paradox of
whether or not Longo was feeding him lies, in which, the answer would either finish off
his credibility or redeem it. This leap of faith by Michael Finkel was presented to him
after Chris Longo, who was wanted for murder, fled to mexico using his
Rachel Buckley
Feb 24, 2017 Rachel Buckley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I almost DNFed this book at first. I'm so glad I didn't!

So, quick plot summary: Christian Longo, a man accused of killing his entire family, flees to Mexico and takes on the identity of Michael Finkel, a writer for the New York Times. Michael Finkel, however, is facing some rough times of his own. At the same time Christian is in Mexico, Michael is hiding out in his home, waiting for the Editor's Note to be published that will announce his termination from his position with the Tim
Jaime (Curious Kindle Reader)

For Full Review - Check out my Blog!

Obviously, this isn’t the usual type of book I review on my blog – the closest thing being Gone Girl, but I’ve been wanting to read this for quite some time, so in between my smut books I decided to check it out – it had a short sale on Amazon and the e-book dropped to three bucks, I figured what the hell. This story had always kind of stuck with me, like most people t
May 02, 2015 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There are no words to describe True Story that will do it justice, but I will do my best to find some that come close. I have read close to 100 different true crime accounts and novels in my life so far, on top of the countless other nonfiction pieces, but I feel a way that I have never felt before after completing this beautiful memoir.

True Story by Michael Finkel tells the story of Christian Michael Longo, a man believed to have murdered his entire family and then fled the country to Mexico. F
Taylor Lipski
Dec 30, 2016 Taylor Lipski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder, a charismatic killer, a web of lies, and one disgraced journalist’s relentless pursuit of the truth make up Michael Finkel’s True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa. The memoir, Finkel's first, reveals the story of the murder of Christian Longo’s wife and three small children and the trial of Longo, as Finkel attempts to uncover the truth behind it all. As Finkel delves further into the twisted mind of Christian Longo, his exceptional writing and gifted storytelling make for one of the mos ...more
Melinda Elizabeth
Apr 10, 2015 Melinda Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True story is an interesting peek into the world of two liars. Michael FInkel, our author and narrator, is a man who has been tripped up in life by his lies. He was once a writer for the New York Times, and when the chase for a big story left him without the content his editor wanted to run with, Michael created the story, based upon snippets from alternative sources, and paraded this as the truth.

In the aftermath of his shaming from the New York Times, Michael is contacted by another reporter,
Mimi Fintel
May 01, 2015 Mimi Fintel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Finkel had his dream job - he was working for the New York Magazine. Unfortunately in 2002 Michael Finkel was fired from this job because when he was supposed to be writing a true story about the chocolate industry he embellished and melded details and was found out. The New York Times was going to post an online note about the firing the following week. Michael decided to hole up in his Montana home and not answer his phone. However, he did answer one call shortly before the notice woul ...more
Shruti Tanwar
Jan 18, 2017 Shruti Tanwar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clearly, irrevocably, this book has managed to leave a deep fucked up impression on my mind. In the course of turning those pages, my beliefs, my inferences about the world, about everything basically, shook to the core. Not once, not twice but so many times that I lost count. So much so that I am writing this review nearly after 2 months of completing it, but I can swear it still sends chills up my spine when I try to remember which is not forgotten.

The truth though is right there in front of
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Michael Finkel is the author of "The Stranger in the Woods" and "True Story," which was adapted into a 2015 motion picture. He has reported from more than 50 countries and written for National Geographic, GQ, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine. He lives with his family in western Montana and southern France.
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