Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

by Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry


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The #1 True Crime Bestseller of All Time—7 Million Copies Sold

In the summer of 1969, in Los Angeles, a series of brutal, seemingly random murders captured headlines across America. A famous actress (and her unborn child), an heiress to a coffee fortune, a supermarket owner and his wife were among the seven victims. A thin trail of circumstances eventually tied the Tate-LeBianca murders to Charles Manson, a would-be pop singer of small talent living in the desert with his "family" of devoted young women and men. What was his hold over them? And what was the motivation behind such savagery? In the public imagination, over time, the case assumed the proportions of myth. The murders marked the end of the sixties and became an immediate symbol of the dark underside of that era.

Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, and this book is his enthralling account of how he built his case from what a defense attorney dismissed as only "two fingerprints and Vince Bugliosi." The meticulous detective work with which the story begins, the prosecutor's view of a complex murder trial, the reconstruction of the philosophy Manson inculcated in his fervent followers…these elements make for a true crime classic. Helter Skelter is not merely a spellbinding murder case and courtroom drama but also, in the words of The New Republic, a "social document of rare importance."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393322231
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/28/2001
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 736
Sales rank: 5,154
Product dimensions: 5.58(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.15(d)

About the Author

Vincent Bugliosi (1934—2015), was the prosecutor of Charles Manson and author of Helter Skelter, Outrage, and other #1 bestselling books.

Curt Gentry (1931-2014), an Edgar winner, was the author of J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets, Frame-Up: The Incredible Case of Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, and co-author of Helter Skelter with Vincent Bugliosi.

Date of Birth:

August 14, 1934

Date of Death:

June 6, 2015

Place of Birth:

Hibbing, MN

Place of Death:

Los Angeles, CA


University of Miami (1956); UCLA Law School (1964)

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Helter Skelter 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 242 reviews.
Fuampa More than 1 year ago
Great read. Would have given 5 stars if the Nook would show the images. "Images in this book are not displayed owing to permissive issues" That is frustrating.
Mary_T More than 1 year ago
I acknowledge that this story is horrific enough without the photos, but I was surprised when my ebook edition omitted them. I could understand the technological issues attendant with including color photos, but the pics in the "dead tree" version are in black and white, so I don't understand why they weren't included in my ebook version. I checked out the paper book while at Barnes and Noble. The photos are not grotesque. Certain aspects of the crime scene photos are prudently obscured. But what I found fascinating were the photos of the young women who committed the murders. Fresh-faced teenage girls smile out from the pages. Manson looks like a feral leprechaun and one wonders why anyone would follow him anywhere much less murder for him. The inclusion of the photos in the (not inexpensive) ebook version would have made this a better product.
PhxKevin More than 1 year ago
Helter Skelter is about Charles Manson who in 1969, along with his family of followers struck fear in the heart of all America. The darker side of the hippie movement the sixties were known for. Vincent Bugliosi does a great job leading you through the events and subsequent trials. Be aware though that the NOOK version of this book does not include any of the photographs, maps etc. that the book version does. These are important to the story and i was very disappointed to find them not available.
William Russell More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this to anyone that is into detective based novels or interested in psychological thrillers. Very chilling everytime I read the words that come from the manson family. Horrifying that this crime actually happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Usually nonfiction books don't keep my interest, but Helter Skelter was a real page turner. It described the Manson Family in great detail, not to mention the murders they committed. Charles Manson was an incredibly twisted character, and manipulated the minds of his followers. The author, Vincent Bugliosi, was one of the members the prosecution. His vivid imagery makes you feel like you're really at the scene of the crime. As if imagination isn't enough, Helter Skelter contains pictures of the victims, where they were found, and those who took their lives. It was eerie looking back through the photos of the killers after reading their responses in interviews with investigators. The one that stood out to me the most was Susan Atkins. She bragged about the murders. Atkins talked about how good it felt to stab people after describing how she murdered pregnant actress, Sharon Tate. If you enjoy crime stories, this one's a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While many non-fiction books are written from second hand information this book was written by one who was actualy a major character int he case and who was responsible for helping end the reign of terror by one of the evilest men in history. Bugliosi's book was wonderful and I'd recommend it for anyone interested in a 'scary as hell' story (just like the warning in the beginning of the book) and a lesson in police and prosecution procedures. Warning: Do not read this book at night. Every few minutes I would get up to make sure the my windows were locked.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the subject matter of this book is very engrossing, and all of the pertinent elements are presented in a concise and cogent manner, the author has some rather annoying habits. First, he is not consistent in the use of names of people. Sometimes he uses first names and other times he uses last names. To further confuse the reader, he sometimes uses their true names and other times he uses their aliases. Since their are a very large number of individuals involved in this vastly intricate plot, this can be very aggravating. Despite these fairly minor infractions, however, I was highly entertained and would recommend it to anyone.
Amanda-Katherine More than 1 year ago
This book goes into great detail about the Manson murders during the 60s/70s. It starts off with the Tate and LaBianca murders, and the reasons for why it took so long to connect the murders, let alone solve them. The first time I took a look at the book and didn't want to pick it up because it was over 400 pages. But then I started to read it and could not put it down! I read it in 2 days. I recommend this book to anyone wanting some thrill, as well as information reguarding Manson and his crazy thinking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great from start to finish, and I had a hard time putting it down. The author is very detailed regarding the events that took place giving the reader a feeling of actually being there. I don't think it could have been written any better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never write reviews. I have to say, this book is unbelievable. It is "real" not fiction and written by the actual prosecuter. So, it's so interesting. It's fascinating beyond belief.....excellently written too. Only thing is that the pictures aren't available with the Nook version.
NewYorker69 More than 1 year ago
I will be honest, I usually find nonfictional dull and miserable to go through. However, this writer is skilled in his delivery of detail and portrayal of events. I am only in the first part of this book still, but felt compelled to let the online community know just how interesting this book really is. Definitely a bit creepy and sad that its all real. But great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the most complete true crime novel ever written. It takes you inside the murders and the lives of everyone involved. Usually in books like this, the portions about the court procedings are slow and boring. That's not the case here. The trial is very interesting to read about. A great book all around!
KLA44 More than 1 year ago
The best true crime book ever written. I've read it twice over the years. Be prepared to be shocked. It s hard to wrap your mind around the lunacy of it all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book if you are interested in any sort of crime, especially true crime. This book gives you a lot of incite on the Manson Family and its even better because it was written by the prosecution in the Manson Family murders. I think one of the most interesting person of the Manson Family has to be Susan Atkins. She is very complicated and she seems to be open to talking about what happened on August 8 and 9 1969 as if she sort of brags about it. If you are looking for a great true account of the Manson Family and the murders you should read this book!!
MissMonkeysMom More than 1 year ago
Excellent read. A must for true crime fans.
Elaine_M More than 1 year ago
If you only know the name Charles Manson by vague associations with a shaggy beard, creepy eyes, and the notion of evil, this book might surprise you. Indeed, before Manson was any of that, he was a hippy father figure for many wayward youth -- mostly women -- in late 1960s California, and he was a man who was pretty close to not being convicted of anything more than auto theft. Bugliosi, the prosecutor in the Manson trial gave one of the first accounts of the Manson murders following the conviction of Manson and his followers. Bugliosi's tale is indeed told like a district attorney uncovering evidence. The advantage of this for the reader is being privvy to all of the ins and outs of the investigation and trial: the pain-staking evidence gathering that was often hindered by LAPD's lack of internal communication and drawn-out courtroom proceedings that were often hijacked by Manson's obstructionist attorney, the three women in their early 20s who killed for Manson (Susan Atkins, Leslie van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel) and Manson himself. Although it seems a given now that Manson was responsible for mass murders, it was hardly expected that he and "the girls" would be convicted for killing actress Sharon Tate (Roman Polanski's wife), her friends, a grocery store chain owner and his wife, and a young man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The biggest drawback of this book is that it does not go in depth into the motives of Charles Manson and his followers. We get that they at some point accepted him as a religious figure, as is what happens in cults, but we don't get how these young women and men became so dissolute that they could kill for Manson, at least not in anyway that seems convincing. 'Helter Skelter' is a great introduction to the events that led to these horrific murders, as well as to this period in history. (It is said that these murders put an end to the hippy era because of Manson's association with the movement, marginal though it was. Bugliosi refers to Manson at one point as a "right-wing hippie," because of his authoritarian inclinations combined with the hippie lifestyle this ex-con adopted in the late '60s). But reading the book leaves so many questions in the reader's head--maybe as many as it answers. Did the victims really not know the killers? How much responsibility did Manson have for the murders? Why on earth would people believe him when he said there would be a race war called Helter Skleter (were they just that drugged out)? What motivated young women and men from middle class families to uproot and live with Manson? i.e. How bad could their family lives have been that a gnomish bearded man who insisted on directing them in orgies seemed like a better life choice than going to college and leading a "normal" life? Bugliosi's book is a great introduction to this truly gruesome and unparalleled point in history, but you will finish it wanting to learn a whole lot more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Helter Skelter is perfect if you just want to lesuire read of if you want to be educated on a infamous murder. Vincent writes beautifully and allows you to feel the emotion envolved in the actually crime itself. Someone recommded this book to me and in a second i will and have recommded helter skelter to anyone!!!
Anonymous 6 months ago
horrible and interesting. the case of Sharon Tate and the Labiancas is insane. Charlie Manson is a crazed lunatic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CSMcMahon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I will never listen to the Beatles White Album the same ever again. In all seriousness, this book was incredible. It makes you wonder what it was about Manson that he had the ability to get people to commit atrocious acts.
ABookVacation on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This documentary was written VERY well... like a novel, instead of a documentary. I was captivated and appauled at the same time. It's scary to know this madness exsists.
hippieness on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very disturbing read!
Borg-mx5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A compelling, factual read. This book changed the genre of true crime and details the events leading upto one ot the most bizzare tales of murder ever.
queencersei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Helter Skelter is the true story of the Manson Family and L.A. prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi¿s quest to bring them to justice. The infamous murders of Sharon Tate, her guests, the Labianca¿s and others are graphically recounted. The book really shines when Bugliousi describes the trial of the Mason Family, detailing the events that occurred in the courtroom. The book is well written and riveting. It is a must read for any lover of the True Crime genre and a story that is impossible to forget.
sellis91 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Helter Skelter is the first real crime book that I have read. The only books that I have read that are similar are a couple of legal thrillers by John Grisham. I didn¿t even plan to read Helter Skelter either. The red letters on the spine of the book just jumped out at me as I was walking among the bookshelves. For my first factual crime book, I found Helter Skelter horrifying, interesting, and very educational. Before reading this book I only knew bits and pieces about the Manson murders such as; Charles Manson was the leader, it took place in the 60s, he had a bunch of female followers, and that they had committed a few murders. Little did I know how horrendous those murders actually were. From the several and excessive stab wounds, to the bloody writing on the wall, it was like stepping into a horror movie. Vincent Bugliosi, the author, had written Helter Skelter like a murder and legal thriller all in one. Although this all happened way before my time, when I read this book, I felt like it was all happening now and that I was a fly on the wall witnessing everything. The book was exciting and I didn¿t want to put it down. It was intriguing reading about the powerful Charles Manson and his brain washed robot and zombie like followers. It was amazing what people can and will do for love or faith. How someone can murder a woman who was 8 months pregnant and cannot see nor feel any wrong or guilt for what she did. Helter Skelter has opened a new genre of literature to me. I know want to read and learn more. Maybe I will read about Jeffrey Dahmer or other serial killers or psychopaths. It¿s interesting to see, or at least try to see what makes these terrifying people tick.