Matilda Reviews: Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi


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 victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Here is the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime.

Why I Read It:

After finishing Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, I knew I had to read Helter Skelter. I wanted more detail on the Manson crimes and the trial itself.

Overarching Story: 5/5

Because it’s a true crime novel, it’s hard to judge the “story” aspect of Helter Skelter. The book opened with detailed descriptions of the Tate and LaBianca murders, and the rest of the book flowed naturally from there: the investigations, the interviews, the trial and sentencing. It was well written and “easy” to read—although it takes a strong stomach to read about such horrendous crimes.

Voice/Style: 4/5

Bugliosi is clearly highly educated, an excellent writer, and extremely knowledgeable about everything having to do with the Manson crimes and trial. (He was, after all, the prosecuting attorney.) I appreciated all the detail, although some people may find it tiresome and unnecessary after a certain point.

Additional elements: 4/5

Since I read the 25th anniversary edition, I enjoyed the updates that came in the afterword of the book—sort of a “where are they now,” although even the updates are already a bit dated.

Recommended for:

Fans of true crime, ’60s and ’70s American history


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