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Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders
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Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  66,304 ratings  ·  1,672 reviews
The true story behind the most infamous mass murder case ever and its perpetrator, the notorious criminal Charles Manson.





On August 9th 1969, seven people were found shot, stabbed and bludgeoned to death in Los Angeles. America watched in fascinated horror as the killers were tried and convicted. But the real questions went unanswered. How did Manson make his 'family' kill...more
Paperback, 768 pages
Published November 5th 1992 by Arrow (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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sckenda
I was a 13-year-old paperboy when I read this true-crime story of the Charlie Manson family of killers, who terrorized Southern California in the 1970's. I had to get up every morning at 4:00 a.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to deliver 200 newspapers before dawn to my neighbors in a working-class neighborhood.

During the summer, I would sometimes stay up all night reading because I had to get up so early. If it is 1:00 a.m., why go to bed if you just have to get up in 3 hours? One sleepless...more
Paul
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...more
Suzanna
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
l
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
marki jones
Jul 30, 2007 marki jones added it  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Matt
"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...more
Laurel
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
Stephen
A too young divorced recent groom, I was still living alone in a log cabin on an East Tennessee ridgeline, when I chose to read two disturbing books back-to-back. “In Cold Blood” was the first, this one the second.

“Helter Skelter,” the story of the Manson family murders, is unbelievably disturbing. Unconsciously mad. Thinking about it today, so many years later, it is still so. Author Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecutor for the case and lays out the story as any good DA lays out his murder case....more
Christopher
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
Robert
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...more
Sarah
I am a recent convert to the true-crime genre but I found this book to be fascinating. I didn't know much about the Manson case, so I was completely surprised and disgusted by the crimes. Granted, I had to sleep with the lights on for a few nights, but I couldn't put this book down. It's probably rare to have access to the lead prosecutor of such a high-profile investigations but I loved the way that Bugliosi explained all the strange coincidences that plagued this case. I preferred the investig...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
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...more
Talulah Mankiller
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
Wil
The first thing I want to mention here is that I find it incredibly irksome that (albeit a small proportion of) people have given this book a rating of one or two, accompanied by remarks like ‘Ahhh, SO scary! Couldn’t finish it!!’

...Really? What did you expect!? Surely anybody with even a loose grasp on their senses would note that a) murder is generally not a soft & cuddly topic for a bit of light bedtime reading and b) the cover clearly includes the words ‘true crime’ & ‘shocking story...more
N
This book is bad. Well, not just slightly bad, but TERRIBLY bad. How anyone can believe this tripe is truly beyond all realms of imagination. Get Marlin Marynick's 'Charles Manson Now' and Schrecks new and updated 2011 book 'The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman' from his website.

This book is terribly bad. So much nonsense it's almost embarrassing. I suggest getting 'Charles Manson Now' by Marlin Marynick (read the Star review on the Amazon page for it) and Nikolas Schrecks' new...more
Rob
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
Alan Geday
I knew I was going to get a feel as to just how Charles Manson committed his murders. However, I did not expect an insight quite like this one. I was always interested in Charles Manson and as to why there is such a big cult surrounding him. Vincent Bugliosi writes a passionate, detailed, description of the murders and what lead Manson and his cult to kill their victims. What I liked about the book was how Bugliosi gives an emotionally attached vibe, almost as if he took part of the murders, and...more
Synesthesia
I finished this ages ago. Man, I hate Manson. I don't know why these people followed him and worshiped him. He was also abusive too, smacking these girls around and treating them like steaming dog crap.

Fathers, be good to your daughters or else they'll end up worshiping people like Manson and they'll kill people and have no minds of their own.

Also he had KIDS. Imagine being the son of Manson. Plus he had such an affliction of a name too. It would haunt me if this guy was my father.

This book is w...more
Erin
Jul 02, 2008 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: most people, actually
Recommended to Erin by: my mom
scary and amazing story. true crime isn't generally one of my interests, but this had been recommended to me numerous times. it was well-written, and managed to make almost all of the murderers far more sympathetic characters than i would have imagined possible. the part that frightens me the most, i think, is that manson's philosophy was based on such simple and easily accessible things as the bible and the white album. i mean, who hasn't heard a song that felt like it was written specifically...more
Elizabeth
I just can't give this any more then 2 stars. I've always heard that Helter Skelter was a fantastic read but I found it really dry and dull.

I guess growing up with a mom that loved those Sunday afternoon murder shows on A&E, I already knew everything I needed to know about the Manson Family.

Wow that last sentence really sums up my childhood.
Hinch
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders is quite possibly the definitive work of true crime literature. At over 700 pages, and written by Vincent Bugliosi, who served as the prosecution attorney, the book not only provides an exceptionally detailed account of the now infamous Tate/La Bianca murders, and the subsequent investigation and trial, but also a deep insight into the mind and philosophy of Charles Manson.

Motivated by diverse influences including Scientology, the Book of Reve...more
Diana Cigher
Apr 10, 2013 Diana Cigher rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Diana by: Alison Mosshart
I came over "Helter Skelter" via a radio show. My favourite musician was playing some of her music and the theme was 'Highways and Outlaws'. She was going to play "Song for Charles Manson" by Fiji, but before she said a little story. She said that Manson was one of the most infamous criminals of America. And he was. She said that if any hadn't read Helter Skelter, they should.
And being my favourite musician, I thought "Why not?". So I got a friend to get me an e-book (I looked everywhere and the...more
Lisa
I am so crazy I can remember almost exactly when I read this. It was either November or December of 2007.

I think it's 4 stars, maybe 4 and a half. I did love it but I think my only problem with it was I wanted to know more about the case. I know the author wrote this huge book about his personal involvement with the case(he was the prosecutor in the Manson trials)

I guess I really wanted to know everything about what happened in that cult. Something about the Manson family has always intrigued m...more
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...more
Teri
Jul 03, 2008 Teri rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Teri by: a good friend
When a friend was readin g it while in the hospital, she highly recommended it, but I thought it would be too greuesome to read, but I went out and bought the book and absolutely devoured it. My parents couldn't understand how I could read such a gruesome book, but they read it, absolutely riveted with all the details. I would highly recommend this great true story to anyone that likes a true crime story, esp one that I was around for and lived within an hour of where this grisly event happened....more
anday androo
A very well written book by the lawyer who prosecuted in the original Manson trials.

Knowing nothing about this Charles Manson and helter skelter, I was glad this book started with a perfectly detailed revealing of the murders, followed by the investigation, and finally the trial and epilogue.

Manson was a cult leader, by which I mean, he was able to subjugate people to his will by using religion, drugs, domination, and other forms of manipulation. Manson's cult is a microcosm of society in genera...more
Kelsey Hanson
I am unsure what to make of this novel. Don't get me wrong it was definitely intriguing in a horrifying sort of way but I found I thought it would focus more on Charles Manson and what drove him and his Family. More to the point, how on earth did some unkempt "prophet" for lack of a better word convince "normal" people from well adjusted families to commit horrifying crimes. I'm also unsure about the accuracy of this novel. I don't know if it's just the way that the author (and prosecuter) descr...more
Elizabeth Moeller
Everyone has heard some reference to Manson, but it was interesting to learn about his life and crimes in the detail provided by the author of this book, who was the ADA assigned to prosecute Manson. In popular culture Manson has sometimes been represented as a hippie king who didn't really do anything wrong, but reading about the brutal details of the crimes he either committed himself or caused others to commit, it becomes clear that he is a very dangerous man. I never really knew what Helter...more
Anna
I found it a fascinating subject and the book was written in a sufficiently sober fashion for me not to feel like I was rubbernecking.
Kathi Jackson
So much of this book was scarier when first published. By now I know of the horrific events so wasn't too shocked. It's well written but quite lengthy. I wasn't sure I'd get through the last 100 pages.

It's always sad when such young people do such horrific things that they must spend their lives in jail. However, I'm so glad they've all been left in jail -- no paroles. It's good to see, for once, that "life in prison" means just that.

In reading the investigative portion of the book, it's very a...more
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Was it really scary? 130 361 Jun 27, 2014 04:52AM  
Bookworm Buddies: Helter skelter anyone? 12 24 Oct 25, 2013 07:08PM  
Why the draw? 14 176 Nov 19, 2012 09:03PM  
From George Vreeland Hill 1 42 Apr 25, 2012 10:28PM  
  • Fatal Vision
  • Zodiac
  • Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder
  • The Onion Field
  • The Night Stalker
  • The Family
  • The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy
  • Manson in His Own Words
  • Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders
  • Burning Bed: The True Story of an Abused Wife
  • Murder in Greenwich
  • Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit
  • Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder
  • The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: An American Nightmare
  • The Search for the Green River Killer
  • The Boston Strangler
  • I Know My First Name Is Steven
  • Deadly Innocence
28828
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 lives in Pasadena, CA.
More about Vincent Bugliosi...
And the Sea Will Tell Till Death Us Do Part: A True Murder Mystery Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

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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.” 10 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.” 9 likes
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