lp's Reviews > Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
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's review
May 15, 2014

it was amazing
Read in March, 2009

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 only answer that I can come up with is that, whatever it was, he must have been pretty fan-freaking-tastic. That's why I don't give a shit if he preformed miracles or not; I don't need them. I am convinced that Jesus was extraordinary based on his legend.

I asked myself the same question when reading about Charles Mason in Helter Skelter. Mason wasn't educated or famous; in fact, his life sucked from the very beginning, he had no guidance, and spent about 90% of his life in jail or in orphanages, foster homes, etc. But his skills in identifying with weak people (and then perfectly capitalizing on their weaknesses) allowed him to attract the following of hundreds of people with loyalty so strong they would murder for him without hesitation. Manson referred to himself as "MAN SON" and Jesus Christ, and it's impossible to ignore how much the two had in common.

Both were revolutionaries warning of change and an imminent Armageddon. Both carried incredibly unpopular messages that were very popular with a select few -- and in both cases some of the most devout followers were females. Both believed that all was one. Both said the only thing important is love. (Manson was quoted in Rolling Stone saying, "There has been no true love since the pharaohs. Except for J.C. He knew what love meant.") Both were put on trial. People have killed for both of them. I could keep going.

Similar results, as well: a hard-core following of people who are willing to kill and be murdered for their leader, and dedicate their lives to carry out their leader's message.

The biggest thing they didn't have in common is that they are actually TOTAL OPPOSITES. Manson was Christ-like in his attempt to be the Anti-Christ. Manson gained followers using sex, drugs, isolation, music, and his charismatic personality. Jesus carried only a powerful message. (And perhaps miracles. But if you don't believe in his miracles, the fact that people followed him so devoutly is even more notable.)

I think in order to gain control like Christ, Charles Manson and Hitler had, the stars really have to align. The environment has to be ripe for change. You have to be able to coerce enough weak people that you can save them. The Apocalypse is a great word to throw around. I'm trying to think... is Osama Bin Ladin like this? Or is it totally different?

Anyway, Helter Skelter is an UNBELIEVABLE story told in a captivating way. I had a nightmare the first night after reading it and I have been super-suspicious of my new neighbors, who moved in the same day. I have spent an embarrassing amount of time spying on them through the peep-hole. This is a great story for any interested in law, human nature, religion, murder, The Beatles, Hollywood, and down right fucked-up-ed-ness. That all is there. Along with creeeEEEeeeepy pictures.

Something that also carried me through the book: Charles Manson was incredibly hot. That man had some lustrous locks!
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07/12 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Heather (new) - added it

Heather Simons Lauren, you have totally convinced me to read this book!

message 2: by Andrew (new) - added it

Andrew Um... you are insane...

Cornelia Hain u scare me

message 4: by Fenix (new)

Fenix Rose Interesting view. I dont think it is about the miracles either concerning Christ. They werent important to the first followers either. What was important was here is this simple man who saw the real world and didnt just point it out for what it was, but gave the people something they could do. That though in many ways they were powerless to change things, they did have the power to change what they could.

Manson was a product of a broken society. The only home he ever had was a prison cell, being surrounded by the worst in people. That was his world. But he didnt give hope, didnt provide a means of change. He brought out the worst in people, where Christ brought out the better. All the drugs and things were part of society at teh time, still are if we are honest, and were used to manipulate, to haze reality. The show The Following reminds me of Manson in some ways. People want to justify how they feel, those urges that are destructive, give them someone who will do that and they will follow. Then there are those who totter on the edge, perhaps have deep emotional/psychological scars and get drawn in.
I think you are right. Any leader mad or sane in good times gets no where. But if the times are right, if society is on the brink, aching for change, then a Lincoln or Christ or Mandella or Hitler or Stalin or Manson when they rise up and open their mouths to speak people listen. They fill a need that people have small scale or large.
If perhaps Manson had made other choices, saw things a different way or found different ways to address the wrongs in society, choose the opposite of what he had known then it would have been a different story. We dismiss these men behind harm as just insane, something bad in the water, but they were the product of their environment. Many factors coming together just right with no hope for anything different, lost in that prison constructed in early childhood by other hands.

Otávio Al'ban It got on my to-read list just because of your review. I'll come back after reading it to either thank you or complain about you. ;)

message 6: by Petar X (new)

Petar X " 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" Well he didn't did he? That's why the Jews are still Jews and the Romans became the Christians. He attracted attention as a political figure, a rabbi, who annoyed those who felt challenged, both Jews and Romans, in their different ways.

Steven This is a long book. Have you spent as long reading the Gospels? Give Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John a good reading. You may find that Jesus and Manson are not so alike. To compare the two is to buy in to the deception Manson has been using to gain power over people for 40 years.

message 8: by lp (new) - rated it 5 stars

lp I was a religion major and studied the Gospels, particular John, in depth! I was also 22 when I said this.

message 9: by David (new)

David what are you talking about jusus, what does fantasy have to do with the horrific murders that happened in 1969?

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