Book Review: Helter Skelter

HELTER SKELTER | Vincent Bugliosi & Curt Gentry
12.17.2001 (first published 1974) | W.W. Norton Company
Rating: 5/5 stars


Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial. Within these pages he offers the reader a firsthand account of the inner workings to one of the most horrifying cases of the twentieth century. The Tate-LaBianca murders rocked California and the nation. Carried out in cold blood under the orders of Charles Manson, four of his followers ended the lives of innocent victims who were seemingly randomly chosen. How was Manson able to convince these people to kill for him? How did he gain such a hold over this community of people?


You’ve likely heard the name Charles Manson and associated him with his cult, the Manson Family. While a general history is known of Manson by most, the true details to his life and crimes are not always well documented. Within the pages of HELTER SKELTER, Vincent Bugliosi has provided the ultimate true crime bible of knowledge for this man and his followers.

Like most readers who have a strong true crime interest, I have always had my eye on this book. This thing is massive and intricately detailed to the point where it feels intimidating to pick up. I’ve recently been taking in a lot of true crime books through audiobooks and finally felt the courage to add this one to my TBR. At over 26 hours in length I thought for sure I would get bored or the book would start to feel repetitive. I assure you that’s not true!


Bugliosi has included everything inside these pages to keep the reader’s attention. There are excerpts from interviews, trial transcripts, and investigation details left off of mainstream sources. Bugliosi details not only these items, but how these items were discovered or the events leading up to interviews. There are details about the pretrial events, things that happened in the media during the trial, and even how the jury was kept away from these things.

If you’re looking for a true crime read about one of the most talked about cases in history, this is the perfect book! Bonus: There are all sorts of photos sprinkled throughout so you can see the people you’re reading about without having to Google them (although you’ll probably fall down the same Googling rabbit hole I did after finishing!).

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Helter Skelter

  1. Really chunky true crime books (or actually NF in general) are really intimidating but this definitely sounds like a good one to pick up. Of course this is a name I’ve heard a lot due to my interest in true crime but I don’t actually know a lot about the details so I’m keen! Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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