by Aimee Ouellette
This review is the first of several dealing with the crimes and life of Charles Manson and his family. For those of you who are not familiar with Charlie, he was the hippie guru who was sentenced to death for the Tate-LaBianca murders back in 1969. Charlie escaped the death penalty when the state of California banned it in 1972.
Helter Skelter, this particular version of the story is recounted by assistant D.A. and prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi. If you’re thinking the story is thus slanted, you’re absolutely right. The novel is excellent concerning the facts of the case, like times, places, evidence and gory details of the murders. It is lacking, however, in giving any information that arose which may have made Mr. Bugliosi’s case seem inaccurate in any way.
Unfortunately, such information is extensive and significant after reading several other books about Charlie and his mischief. This is not to say he didn’t do it, however, the case Bugliosi made on motive, which greatly contributed to Manson folklore, is less than completely accurate. Mr. Bugliosi’s book does do a great job of showing how moronic the involved police were, if you don’t mind reading about how he came in and saved the day. He does pat himself on the back frequently!
Somewhere during the novel, the reader may start accepting Bugliosi’s opinion as fact. It is difficult not to, as there are no alternatives presented. Some of the information is misleading in its presentation by the authors, mostly concerning Manson’s power and other mysterious unsolved murders. You can’t read this novel as though it were Charlie’s Bible written by his disciples, although you really have to read it to know where you are in some of the other books to come. Here is one of the most interesting pieces of information left out of Helter Skelter: As we all know, Charlie did not actually murder anyone himself in the Tate and LaBianca murders. He sent his family members to do it. But no one knew, including Mr. Bugliosi, that Manson returned to the Tate house after the murders and wandered around the dead bodies. Why? You’ll have to wait until next month, so read Bugliosi’s sort of self-serving book so you’ll know what we’re talking about.