If you want to OWN every book ever written about Manson and his family, then by all means purchase this book.
If you want to KNOW everything there is to know about Manson and his family, then by all means stay away from this book.
The chapters are redundant. You'll find the same quotes from chapter to chapter. While reading a chapter all of a sudden the authors will change subjects, sometimes without finishing the thought that they were working on. This makes the book a somewhat difficult read.
In some instances in the book, family members are given pseudonyms when it's not really called for. For example, the authors repeatedly call Mary Brunner, Marie O'Brien. At the same time they have a photo of Mary Brunner with the right name captioned. Made absolutely no sense to me at all. Her role in the family is also downplayed. She appears in the book only a few times. Her role in the Hinman murders is also downplayed.
There are also instances where some of the picture captions are incorrect. There is a picture of the "girls" on a garbage run that lists Gypsy - Catherine Share - as one of those in the picture. She's not in the picture. However, Mary Brunner is, and yet she's not listed.
It would appear to me that there was very little verification or editing done with this book. You would expect, at the very least, for a re-released (with additions) book, that SOMEONE would have had the forethought to review and edit it.
Lastly, the addition of new photos to the book are uncalled for. There is no reason, whatsoever, to put in death photos. The photos do not in any way enhance this book, they actually diminish it. The pictures are gruesome and brutal. Why not show the vibrant faces of the victims as they were in living, not as they were in death? The only pictures of the victims, other than the death photos, are of Sharon Tate. Somehow the other victims always seem to get lost.
Not exactly a book I'd recommend to anyone other than those that want to fill their "Manson Library".
on September 13, 2001
It's difficult to put my finger on why, but I found this book to be somewhat lacking. While it was indeed a good read, a lot of the information was contrary to what has been published in other books, at times leaving the reader unsure of what the truth really is. Perhaps I've read too many books about the Tate-Labianca murders, but these books were written by the murderers and the prosecuter, Vincent Bugliosi. I found little new information about the case, but did find something I hadn't quite expected---very graphic photos of the murder victims after their arrival at the morgue. Having never seen these photos before, I was sickened at the sight of just how brutal these murders were. Yes, I had read how many times each victim had been stabbed, but to actually see these photos was very disturbing.
While I do recommend this book as a good read, I would caution anyone to think twice before viewing the photos---they are not images that are easily forgotten. I sincerely hope each time one of the heartless murderers appears before a parole board, these graghic photos will be presented as proof that none of these people should EVER be set free!
on February 16, 2004
Published years ago as THE GARBAGE PEOPLE, this revised and updated classic is still the reliable text dealing with Charles Manson and his ragtag, violent family. The real horror and sickness of these people comes through the text. It is disturbing and unforgettable indeed, and none of these individuals should EVER be let out of prison. No one can commit such horrible deeds as this and hope to be reformed in the same lifetime. Yet Manson, who apparently never did any of the murders himself, comes through as this broken Svengali who orchestrated the evil deeds. The photographs are very graphic, showing all of the victims in death. The writing is terse and sharp, almost hard-boiled, as is much of what John Gilmore writes. Yet that can be deceptive, as one enters this world Gilmore creates in much the same way you would let your child walk into a lion's den. An education, indeed. There is a powerful lesson here and I'm still trying to sort out...
I'll never undserstand how the lovely Sharon Tate, eight months pregnant, was butchered like a lamb being slaughtered, and for what? Though confined for life, these killers have been able to marry, have children of their own, and claim to have found "God". They ask us to forgive them while we are still weeping for poor Sharon and the others. In an indirect, oblique way, Gilmore, in reminding us of things we should never forget, seems to drive this question into the reader. He has fixed it so I'll never forget, nor will I ever understand such brutality in the human condition. Despite some petty grumblings from other reviewers (who have obviously missed the point), this book is an imporant aid in our attempt to understand and deal with the darker side of the human experience.
on December 22, 2002
This book is an exploration into the world that was created by Charles Manson. The writer, John Gilmore (Los Angeles Times says of Gilmore's book, COLD-BLOODED, "An essential masterpiece in the true crime genre"), has created a window to Charlie Manson's world by close involvement not only with Manson but with all facets of this incredible, terrifying mise en scene. One reviewer has seemingly faulted this book for not being "entertainment," and sites Helter Skelter as their choice of entertainment. No, Gilmore's book is not "entertainment," but rather ENLIGHTENMENT. Helter Skelter was an excellent offering from the author's point of view, that of the prosecutor in the case against Manson and the girls accused of murder. Helter Skelter is told exclusively from that point of view, examining Manson and the Family at a safe distance, as beasts in cages, much as we observe animals at the zoo. That is entertainment. John Gilmore's examination of this case has no bars separating us from the beasts. We are accompany them on their lives, are placed right in with them. We share life with them, we watch their heads ticking, and we kill with them. This is a terrifying place to be. Gilmore's book was one of the earliest books to be published on the Manson case. There have been a number of imitations, trying to lead us into this twisted world so effortlessly accompolished by Gilmore. He has lived inside Manson's head, and his book stands alone in taking us into a warped world that will remain as timeless as the Holocaust. So, no, this is not "entertainment." For entertainment, one must visit the tube for a sitcom or a movie made for TV. For education, for enlightenment, though, Gilmore's book is the one to read. It dark, yes. It is shocking, yes. Helter Skelter gives us a broad and worthwhile study of the legalities and the case from the prosecution's personal, bestseller-style, perspective. In fairness, I suggest reading Gilmore's book and Helter Skelter, to gain as much insight as possible into this mindboggling horror that seems right at our fingertips. I was smelling the blood in Gilmore's book, and yet I could not turn away.
As for the photographs of the victims from the murder scene and at the morgue, this was the first time these photographs were published in a book dealing with this case. What appears online were "borrowed" from Mr. Gilmore's book. They are now world-wide, and nonetheless disturbing, frightening, or unforgettable. Gilmore's book is not "entertainment," unless you subscribe to the same nightmare view created by Charles Manson. This book and these photographs remind us that true evil is very close, so close, in fact, it can reach out and touch us at any time.
on September 29, 2000
Here it is, the most important book ever written on Charles Manson and the Family. John Gilmore does it again: burrows inside the skins of Charlie, Susan Atkins, the totally dysfunctional (except to kill!)Tex Watkins, and dangerous Bobbyh Beausoleil. This is probably the most vital document on the flipside of the American Dream; the book makes no compromise, promises or expectations. It takes the reader inside the heads of these people; we are right there and part of this terrible, tragic history. Gilmore's writing nails the reader page by page. The many photographs of Sharon Tate's body (alive and dead) are almost unbearable. There are many other very brutal photographs in this book and the easily shocked reader must be warned. This book is without peer.
on November 12, 2003
I was expecting more from this updated version of the 1971 book ,"The Garbage People"
As a period piece its just ok. Ed Sanders book "The Family" is far better and more detailed,and much more interesting.
This book jumps all over the place,gets some key facts wrong and misses out on important information...i.e., Paul Watkins,a major player in the real life story,isn't mentioned until the last 10 pages of the book,then only briefly!
Also,as mentioned by another reviewer,the author has the annoying habit of incorrectly naming Mary Brunner as Marie O'Brien in the story,yet names her correctly in the accompanying photo,it's been almost 40 years, we don't need the stupid alias' anymore, besides, these people's real names have long been public knowledge,what with all the other (much better)books and various websites.
The only positive part was the addition of some new,and frightening photos.
Get "The Family",or "The Sharon Tate Story" instead,this is only for collectors.
on March 6, 2004
John Gilmore's account of Charles Manson and his followers (the "Family") is the stuff of which nightmares are made. This is a frightening book though it places the reader inside the events, including the murders committed. You are left with the feelings of horror and dread. A fascinating story, very well written, which leaves you feeling the world has gone mad.
on July 19, 2011
I regret buying this book. Although Mr. Gilmore substitutes some names like "Marie O'Brien" for Mary Brunner, it is obvious who "Marie O'Brien is. Yet he shows pictures of Mary Brunner using her real name. I was highly disappointed in this book. I expected much more from Mr. Gilmore. I will add this book to my collection and more than likely never read it again. Unless you are an avid collector of Manson Family books, I would let this one pass. Wish I had.
on November 19, 2014
an interesting series of interviews that show a bigger picture behind the news stories that often missed the big picture by focusing on the same headline stories until it became repeated propaganda with no facts attached..
on December 31, 2011
I have read most, if not all, of the Manson books out there and this is by far the worst Manson book I have ever read. Why does the author use Marie O'Brien instead of Mary Brunner?? I would never recommend this book to anyone and I regret buying it.