Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry (1975)

Publication Date:
W. W. Norton & Company
$12.36 paperback or $9.99 Kindle

Reviewed by:
On July 17, 2013
Last modified:July 21, 2013


A must read true crime classic deserving of much more than 5 stars.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
Buy It Not On Amazon

On a hot August night in 1969 Los Angeles, actress Sharon Marie Tate thought about nothing much more than the impending birth of her baby, which was due in only two weeks. As she turned in for the evening, she had no way of knowing she and her baby would never meet face to face.

In another part of town lived a “spiritual” family on a rundown ranch which, in its heyday, had also served as a movie set for westerns. Their leader was none other than Jesus Christ, as he liked to claim, but most just called him Charlie. He was Charles Manson.

Charlie controlled his family with sex and drugs; during the use of the latter was when he often philosophized about life and spirituality with sayings such as “No sense makes sense.” Many of his “deep thoughts” were garnered from songs by the Beetles, whom Charlie believed were communicating with him through their lyrics on how to usher in an apocalypse by initiating a war between the races.

And that’s how Sharon Tate came to die along with her friends Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Jay Sebring in a Hollywood home with “PIG” written on the door in blood and the teenage Steven Parent dead in his car in the driveway.

Next was Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Angeles home; the words “Helter Skelter”, “Rise”, and “Death to Pigs” written about the home in blood.

The bloody words, Charlie said, would lead the police to believe the murders were the work of Black Panther Party members. When their suspicions were announced publicly, it would enrage white people while blacks would be resentful of the accusations.

Although Charlie was good – very good – at controlling his family, for one conscionable young woman, the mind manipulation nor drugs was enough and because of her courage, no one else died at the direction of Charles Manson and a race war never came to be.

See the interactive map of Charles Manson murder scenes and other points of interest.
Then catch the full length 1976 movie Helter Skelter.

Vincent Bugliosi was the Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted Charles Manson for his role as mastermind behind the homicides along with his three of his minions: Susan Denise Atkins, Charles Denton “Tex” Watson, and Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel. In his 1975 book, Helter Skelter, he outlines the Manson Murders along with previously undisclosed information.

As a result, Bugliosi’s book is absolutely fascinating – even to those who think they know everything about Charles Manson. And that’s not just my opinion obviously, considering the book has had numerous reprints in its 38 years of existence and is frequently noted as the book which first hooked readers on the true crime genre.

So I feel very comfortable in saying this is a must read true crime classic.

Last updated by on .

Share This Post

Related Articles

5 Responses to “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry (1975)”

  1. [...] Charles Manson Crime Scenes and other points of interests. The source of many of these locations came from Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi. [...]

  2. Filomena Magliochetti says:

    More than 5 stars, huh? Helter Skelter was a naive and fallacious collection of improbably motives and ideas cobbled together to let the guilty off the hook in 1975. Today, with so much more information about these crimes available albeit largely ignored in preference to this set of prosecution fantasies that have become a staple of American urban legend.

    First off, Charles Manson was a schizophrenic even when he was released from prison in 1967. He was the mascot of this band of drug dealers and murder-for-hire, NEVER it’s leader. Secondly Charles Manson was a talented pop singer. He had a contract with Terry Melcher which Melcher had every intention of honoring. The so-called Family partied with Melcher, his girlfriend Candice Bergan, and his housemate the singer Mark Lindsey on August 8, 1969 at their new home in Benedict Canyon. The Family was perfectly aware that Melcher no longer lived at 10050 Cielo Drive. At the party that night was singer/producer John Phillips, leader of the Mamas and the Papas singing group. He was angry with Roman Polanski for having sex with Phillips’ then-wife, Michelle Phillips. He HIRED Charles Watson to put the fear of God into Polanski. The so-called Tate murders were a criminal enterprise killings, not “cult” murders as Bugliosi would have us believe. Manson, though possibly aware of them, was uninvolved.

    Again with the Labianca murders the following night, Charles Watson was the drug dealer for the Labiancas’ daughter. This also was a criminal enterprise murder with profit as the motive.

    Please see Mark Lindsey’s interview with UglyThing Magazine, the film, Six Degrees of Helter Skelter, and Marlin Marynick’s book, Charles Manson Now for much more detailed information. Bugliosi’s and Gentry’s book is the Disney version of what happened August 9 and 10, 1969.

    • Candy says:

      So what are you saying? You offer no other explanation about what happened that night. Who cares if Manson was their leader or the garbage man, he orchestrated all the killings. Don’t really care if Watson was or wasn’t the daughter’s drug dealer, two innocent people were killed. What’s your point?

  3. [...] Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry (1975) [...]

  4. [...] original Charles Manson movie, Helter Skelter is based on the book by the same name authored by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor in the Manson Murders [...]

Leave a Reply

© 2014 True Crime Zine. All rights reserved. Site Admin · Entries RSS · Comments RSS
Powered by WordPress · Designed by Theme Junkie