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Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  86,176 Ratings  ·  2,161 Reviews
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 victim
Paperback, 689 pages
Published December 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1974)
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American Psycho by Bret Easton EllisLord of the Flies by William Golding1984 by George OrwellA Child Called "It" by Dave PelzerA Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Most Disturbing Book Ever Written
29th out of 1,830 books — 6,663 voters
In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleTrue Hollywood Noir by Dina Di Mambro
Best True Crime
2nd out of 609 books — 1,053 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ana {The Good Gif Fairy}
Jul 17, 2016 Ana {The Good Gif Fairy} rated it really liked it
Shelves: dark-reads
On the afternoon of Friday, August 8, 1969, Manson told the Family: “Now is the time for Helter Skelter.”

 photo tumblr_static_xqou20fho40ckscswgo8wwc4_zpskv815eiq.gif

{This is probably the darkest review I've ever written. Beware, ye of little courage.}

Gaze upon this gif. So innocent, so sweet. There is nothing sinister about it. Right?

 photo tumblr_nk6xokWDMe1u2roero1_500_zpsec41delr.gif

Well, guess again. The carefree girls in this gif are members of the Manson family singing and laughing as they entered the courtroom.

Who knew a murder trial could make someone so happy?

But let’s go back a bit.

Paul Bryant
Apr 08, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Exciting news - we're joining the Manson Family!

Today is a very big day for all of us at P Bryant Reviews Inc. As you may have seen on our blog, we are joining the Manson family.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say that we always appreciate your feedback here at P Bryant Reviews. Thank you for caring enough about us to tell us what you think!

Also, I wanted to assure you that P Bryant Reviews Inc and the team behind it are not going away. We have no plans to change the P Bryant Review exper
Jun 19, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
A classic in the true crime genre, this is a fascinating account of the Charles Manson family and the murders they committed in the summer of 1969.

Written by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, the reader learns the details as the police detectives do. We watch them investigate the murders, interview witnesses and follow up on leads. Bugliosi also shares his perspective on the case, which was interesting. I listened to this on audio and was riveted throughout.

But when it came time to write this revie
Charles Manson and "his family" reigned terror throughout an affluent LA community back in 1969 after the brutal mass murder of more than seven unforgettable time if you grew up in the sixties. Prosecuting Attorney, Vincent Bugliosi gives the reader a technically detailed and vividly descriptive account of the true-crime murder trial, and the motivation (view spoiler) behind the mind of a killer.

And while all

Mar 25, 2008 Suzanna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
This is one of the scariest things I have ever read--it kept me up a few nights, to be sure. However, it was really cool (and oddly reassuring) reading how the prosecuting attorney helped the LAPD close in on these people and bring them to justice. After reading this I understand why people often say that the Manson killings for them represented the death of the hippie era of peace and love. Despite the fact that the Manson Family was not comprised of hippies, people were much more fearful and s ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Feb 21, 2016 Jonathan Ashleigh rated it really liked it
Shelves: recent
I don’t understand the continued appeal of Charles Manson or his family, but I do understand the appeal of this book. It leads through the events as they are placed back together by the prosecution during the trial of Manson and his accomplices, and does so in an interesting way. Helter Skelter reads fast and kept my attention until the defendants are sentenced. At that point, I felt I knew everything I needed to know about Manson — he was a delusional racist who preyed on weak and needy souls a ...more
May 15, 2014 lp rated it it was amazing
One of the most fascinating things about Jesus, if you ask me, isn't how he could have walked on water or was born of a virgin. Whether I believe that those thing happened or not is a different story. What is amazing (and completely proven) is that thousands of years ago Jesus was able to attract the attention of Jews and convince them that he was their savior -- and today, thousands of years later, that legend has survived. The question is, what exactly did Jesus do to make such an impact? The ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always had an interest in Charles Manson and, more specifically, the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders. Although that might seem odd and possibly a bit unsavoury, I believe my morbid interest in serial killers and things of that ilk are a result of my complete and utter amazement and horror that people could commit such acts. I want to know more about them, try to understand what goes through their minds and their motives. The Manson trial in particular was one of the strangest, and most hig ...more
marki jones
Jul 30, 2007 marki jones added it
Recommends it for: rebellious teenagers on family trips who aren't actually psychopaths
My friend is obsessed with Charles Manson, so much so that I decided I needed to understand what the hell was going on. I got this book for my trip to New Hampshire with my family to stimulate myself while sitting in a condo wishing I had nine dollars to go see Harry Potter alone due to my sorta sick crush on the character who plays Ron Weasley.
I am learning about my new interest in terrible but insanely interrelated crimes committed by and against high-profile persons. I don't know what I am re
Jul 02, 2016 Conrad rated it it was amazing
Second greatest true crime novel of all time!

Behind 'In Cold Blood', of course.
Feb 22, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
This true crime classic was published in 1974. The author, Victor Bugliosi, was Deputy District Attorney in L.A. and responsible for prosecuting the Tate-LaBianca murders. As this book was published a fairly short time after the actual events, it has a real immediacy, and Bugliosi’s insider knowledge makes the reading experience extremely interesting.

The book opens with the murders, which are difficult to read about even after so long. On Saturday 9th August, 1969, screams and gunshots were hea
This one goes straight to my "all time favorite" shelf. Phenomenal! I couldn't stop listening to it.
So, here's my weird connection to Charles Manson: my mom very briefly knew Linda Kasabian. Linda was the key witness for the prosecution. She moved to my small hometown after the trial and that's how my mom got to know her a bit. She even came to our house once. Apparently, I met her too, though I was just a baby. My mom did not realize who she was until some time later - Linda had changed her last name to hide/protect her identity. She only lived in our town a short time before moving out of st ...more
Feb 15, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it
"Truth is stranger than fiction" is a truism made so frequently it verges on becoming a platitude. Yet, there is a logic behind the maxim - fiction, by the very nature of it's unreality, must make a certain claim to believability. This rules out certain levels of absurdity, which would cause the fiction to be written off as fantasy. The real world, on the other hand, has no such restrictions.

Nothing illustrates this better than Helter Skelter, an account of the investigation of the Tate-LeBianca
Mar 23, 2016 Kristine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readathon16
Τώρα που πέρασε λίγος καιρός από τότε που είδαμε/αρρωστήσαμε με το Making A Murderer μπορώ να παραδεχτώ πόσο πολύ ντρέπομαι για όλες τις φορές που είπα σε κάποιον καλά ε πρέπει να το δεις θα πάθεις πλάκα λες και δεν είναι μια φριχτή ανθρώπινη τραγωδία που παίζεται και έξω από τα άνετα σαλόνια μας.
Ε με αυτό το βιβλίο δεν νιώθω τύψεις, διάβασα αχόρταγα για έναν από τους πιο μισητούς δολοφόνους της Αμερικής, γέλασα (η αστυνομία σε αυτή την ιστορία αξίζει δικό της σιτκομ, για να μην μιλήσω για τον δ
Jun 29, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it
Hippies, Movie Stars, The Elite
Murder, Mayhem, & Madness
Scary, Creepy, Spine Chilling
Gender, Race, Class
Here is hoping none of them ever get out of jail.
Dec 12, 2015 Mike rated it it was amazing

Having previously known about these events only vaguely, through cultural osmosis, this book taught me everything I could ever have wanted to know, and more, about Charles Manson:

- Manson wasn’t at the Tate residence on the night of the murders.

- Manson was/is 5’2’’.

- His 'friendship' with Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys started when, driving home one night, Wilson picked up two female hitchhikers and brought them to his home. He left them there, went to do some recording, and returned at 3 AM
Helter Skelter is a truly astonishing book, and one that deservedly ranks amongst the best True Crime books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a fair few). Co-written by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, it laid to rest more than a few misconceptions I’d held about Charles Manson (I was labouring under the belief that the five murders committed at 10050 Cielo Drive were the only deaths that he and his followers stood accused of, when actually these were just the horrific tip of the iceberg) and, through t ...more
I liked it, but I still wanted more. I really wanted the author to get inside the head of Charles Manson, to try to find out what makes this crazy guy tick. There's something in me, and I think in a lot of people, that is fascinated by really evil people. There's a section at the end of the book that deals with this; what is it that makes Manson so intriguing? Verily, he is even more intriguing than your run-of-the-mill nutso cult leader, as evidenced by the amount of literature and legend and T ...more
Talulah Mankiller
May 11, 2010 Talulah Mankiller rated it liked it
This one’s not for the faint of heart, y’all: it’s exactly 8 million pages long in teeny, tiny little font. Ahem. Anyway, it is, as the title says, the true story of the Manson Murders. I vaguely remember seeing this book on my parents’ shelves when I was a kid, which wouldn’t be surprising: my mom is from California, and she would have been a young woman during the Manson trial, if not the murders. So I grew up with this book, and I grew up with the whole idea of “Charles Manson” as this evil m ...more
Feb 21, 2016 Vicki rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has stayed with me since I read it in 1976. I was a teenager and do not know what I was thinking even reading it. It has haunted me with the details that filled every page. To know that such evil was out there actively terrorizing innocent people.

The writing was vivid and graphic and it painted pictures that I would just as soon forget. the fear in that time of the Manson family was real and on the news. The writing by Vincent Bugliosi was gripping. The tension of the police and the c
Jul 20, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
One of my favorite podcast, You Must Remember This, has been doing a series on Charles Mansion’s Hollywood by exploring the entertainment industry links to Helter Skelter that are briefly mentioned in the book. As I have not read Helter Skelter since high school, I decided to listen to the book as my interest have been rekindled by the podcast. I remember how this book and story of the Mansion Family made me uneasy, scared and rattled. This time around, I was not as horrified. I think it was mor ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 27, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it
O_o god.

It surprised me at just how creepy this true crime book was, it reminded me of the 2012 found footage horror film Sinister. What's most shocking is that it actually happened! A gang of hippie teenagers crept up on an unsuspecting group of people, one of them a pregnant woman, and stabbed them all repeatedly to death in the night.


Because of this psychotic old wiener, apparently:

Yup, Charlie Manson here allegedly brainwashed a cult of hippies, junkies, eco-freaks and runaways int
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 28, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
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.

Those are the opening lines of Helter Skelter. Decades after I had first read it, I could recall that first sentence almost word for word. The book has that kind of haunting quality. A lot of that may be due to the less well-known co-author, Curt Gentry, because in contrast Bugliosi's other book about a murder case he was involved in, And the S
 PuMbA's MoMmy*•.♥.•*
I bought Helter Skelter it at the Museum of Death in Hollywood which by the way is an interesting place to check out if you are into the macabre things in life or shall I say death lol....I had very high expectations for this book being that it has been voted the #1 True Crime bestseller OF ALL TIME!! I was disappointed that I didn't love it. This was probably because I have already seen so many Manson documentaries and movies, that the book just didn't provide any new details for me that I didn ...more
Aug 09, 2016 Linda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
Another Shelfari review that disappeared into who knows where during import.

It was a great book although the brutality of the crimes were tough to read.
John Wiltshire
Like most people my age, I grew up with knowledge of the horror of the Manson family murders. It was the thing your parents whispered about, because the details were too shocking for small, inquisitive boys to hear. Like the Moors murderers in the UK, Charles Manson's butchery of Sharon Tate and her friends seems inexplicable. I was intrigued to see how highly rated this account of the events was, and decided to tease some facts out of the legend. I'm about halfway through now and surprisingly i ...more
Oct 22, 2010 E.J. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry’s HELTER SKELTER is one of the most recognizable true crime titles in American history alongside Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD and Anne Rule’s THE STRANGER BESIDE ME. It’s also one of the most in-depth because it’s written by the chief prosecutor who put the mercurial madman, Charles Mason away. Because he began writing this book just after the conclusion of the case, the details were not only fresh in his mind, but he had access to every ounce of evidence surrou ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Robert added it
I cannot believe Bugliosi is still cashing in on this terribly misunderstood and unjust case. I have researched this case for many years ( this book being the first I read) and can safely say that his book is far removed from the truth .
A true investigator will research all available materials and unfortunately it has taken many years for the real story to spill out. Bugliosi was given far too much credence with his ridiculous theory by a greedy media seeking to sell sex/murder and mayhem to the
Dierdra Byrd
The Charlies Manson case has always been a huge interest to me but I have never read a True Crime book about him and I am really glad I didn't until now! This is the best True Crime book I have ever read and this makes me happy and sad. LOL. I do not see how any other true crime book could compare to this or live up to this book. Maybe because of who the author was? I am not sure but I could not put it down!
Charles Manson is one of the "best" known serial killers to this date and I guess like Bu
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American attorney and author, best known for prosecuting Charles Manson and his followers for the murder of Sharon Tate and others.

In his books he claimed that O.J Simpson and Lee Harvey Oswald were guilty of the crimes they were accused of.

In his latest book he states that George W. Bush should be prosecuted for murder.

Bugliosi lived in Pasadena, CA.
More about Vincent Bugliosi...

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“I may have implied on several occasions to several different people that I may have been Jesus Christ, but I haven't decided yet what I am or who I am.” 14 likes
“For a lawyer to do less than his utmost is, I strongly feel, a betrayal of his client. Though in criminal trials one tends to focus on the defense attorney and his client the accused, the prosecutor is also a lawyer, and he too has a client: the People. And the People are equally entitled to their day in court, to a fair and impartial trial, and to justice.” 11 likes
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