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190 of 212 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done but will leave you with questions
Since 1985, I have had a long, twisting journey with the Jeffrey MacDonald case. It started with Fatal Vision, the miniseries, and progressed to Fatal Vision, the book about the case penned by Joe McGinniss. I followed those over time with The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm, Fatal Justice by Jerry Allen Potter and Fred Bost and Scales of Justice by...
Published on September 5, 2012 by Lori Johnston

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94 of 105 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing "mysterious" about this case
A jury, hand-picked by Jeffrey MacDonald's defense team, determined MacDonald's guilt -- two counts of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree murder -- after deliberating only six and a half hours. The members of the jury said later that they'd taken even that long only because they wanted to be sure they had been completely fair to MacDonald.

And now...
Published on December 27, 2012 by Steamchef


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190 of 212 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done but will leave you with questions, September 5, 2012
This review is from: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (Hardcover)
Since 1985, I have had a long, twisting journey with the Jeffrey MacDonald case. It started with Fatal Vision, the miniseries, and progressed to Fatal Vision, the book about the case penned by Joe McGinniss. I followed those over time with The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm, Fatal Justice by Jerry Allen Potter and Fred Bost and Scales of Justice by Christina Masewicz. I visited various websites and read anything I could find about the case. Throughout the years my views on the case changed dramatically. I penned my changing thoughts here (at my book review site). In short, I believed MacDonald was guilty but something was off with the case, then there was a great chance that MacDonald was innocent and wrongly imprisoned and, finally, that MacDonald was guilty of the horrible crimes he was convicted of.

When I heard that filmmaker Errol Morris (he of the documentary The Thin Blue Line, which helped to free Randall Dale Adams, wrongly convicted of the murder of a Dallas police officer) had written a book in which he takes on the government's case against MacDonald, I knew that I had to read it.

I will admit that I went into this book deadset on MacDonald's guilt and mentally telling myself that no matter what Mr. Morris wrote in his book, I simply couldn't believe that MacDonald was anything less than guilty. Perhaps not exactly fair to Mr. Morris but given that the murders happened in 1970, MacDonald was convicted in 1979 and so much has been written about the case, both for and against MacDonald, it's not surprising.

If you are not well read or versed on the MacDonald case, A Wilderness of Error is probably not the place to start. Not because it's not well written - - because it is and Mr. Morris does a fine job of supporting his statements. But the book reads for someone already familiar with the background of the murders and the lengthy process in which MacDonald was brought to justice as the background of the crimes themselves is not nearly in-depth as the follow-up.

Mr. Morris excels at bringing to life Helena Stoeckley, the young hippie girl bearing a remarkable resemblance to one of the intruders MacDonald described to the military police following the murders, and who was to be the smoking gun for the defense during the 1979 trial. As Ms. Stoeckley herself was deceased by the time Mr. Morris began research for his book, he did interview family members, neighbors and people who knew and associated with her. She is presented both as a police informant living in Fayetteville's Haymount neighborhood (and hippie district), who partook in drugs and witchcraft and the sad, depleted woman MacDonald and his attorneys hung their hopes on.

Mr. Morris also shone a bright and unforgiving light on Colette MacDonald's mother and stepfather Mildred and Freddy Kassab. The Kassabs were presented in McGinniss' Fatal Vision as the martyred and heartsick family members who made it their life mission to bring their daughter's and granddaughters' killer to justice. Freddy Kassab, in particular, was the tenacious bulldog who grabbed ahold of Jeffrey MacDonald and wouldn't let go, joining forces with the government's prosecutors to see that his former son-in-law had his freedom taken away. The information that Mr. Morris outlined in his book, and supported by long-time friends of the family, is vastly different than the majority of what I have read and it did give me pause.

Mr. Morris didn't appear to have a lot of communications with MacDonald himself and that, to me, is a shortcoming with the book. What small amount of communication he did have was saved for the conclusion of the book. He is honest in his presentation - - that MacDonald is unlikable, annoying and quite full of himself but a good doctor and some of his off-putting qualities make him a good surgeon.

Perhaps Mr. Morris' strongest argument for MacDonald lies within the weakness of the government's supposed shoe-in evidence. He takes on their pajama top experiment and invalidates their results, as well as their assertion that saran hair fibers found in a hairbrush at the crime scene were not those of one of the MacDonald children's dolls but had come from a wig. Helena Stoeckley owned a wig of the same color as those hairs found and during one of her confessions, claimed to be wearing that wig at the time of the crimes.

Despite my assertions that I would not be moved by Mr. Morris' writing, I was. He made a clear and concise argument that Jeffrey MacDonald did not receive a fair trial - - from Judge Dupree's relationship with the original prosecutor (his son-in-law) to inaccurate government tests that were presented as gospel to threats of prosecution given to Helena Stoeckley should she testify to being present at the crime scene and vouching for MacDonald's innocence - - and there was no shortage of reasonable doubt.

A Wilderness of Error did not change my stance on MacDonald guilt or innocence, however well written it was. And here is why. I can throw out all the evidence - - the blood evidence, the pajama top, the bedsheets, the fibers, Helena Stoeckley's confessions and recanting of same . . . but what gets me is the difference between MacDonald's injuries and those inflicted on his family. If a group of drug addicted hippies wanted to get even with MacDonald for ratting them out or not giving them drugs or whatever their reasoning may have been, wouldn't they have taken the largest threat - - MacDonald - - and eliminated him first? Why attack a pregnant woman and two little girls - - a 5 year old and a 2 year old - - before even addressing MacDonald? Why crush the skulls of a woman and a 5 year old and leave MacDonald with one bruise on his head? A bruise with no broken skin? Why would MacDonald have one clean cut to his chest when his wife and children suffered many? One daughter had over thirty stab wounds. Does it make sense to massacre two children who could never identify one intruder and leave behind the one person who could?

None of that makes sense to me and taking that into consideration, I can't believe MacDonald's story about hippie intruders. What I can believe though is that he didn't get a fair trial and guilty or innocent, everyone deserves a fair trial. So while I think he's guilty, he was wrongfully convicted and that's just not right.

For those of you out there that have a similar obsession with the MacDonald case, I would not hesitate to recommend A Wilderness of Error. If you appreciate true crime and are unfamiliar with the case, I would suggest some background research through one of the handful of sites devoted to the case on the Internet or reading Fatal Vision, Fatal Journey or Scales of Justice. (The Journalist and the Murderer is about Joe McGinniss' role in his relationship with MacDonald and resulting lawsuit and not about the case itself).

Very well done, Mr. Morris. You presented us with a well-written, thought provoking book and one that may expose the many missteps of the government to the public.

©Psychotic State Book Reviews, 2012
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not guilty, but not innocent, September 27, 2012
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This review is from: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (Hardcover)
In "A Wilderness of Error," Errol Morris turns his considerable documentary skill to one of the most widely discussed murder cases of the 20th century, in which Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of killing his wife and two daughters in 1970 and received three consecutive life sentences. Morris is best known to me for his film "The Thin Blue Line," the story of Randall Adams, who was sent to Texas's death row for killing a Dallas policeman. Adams was released from prison largely due to that film's exposure of the rush to judgment of him and the identity of the real killer. If Morris could accomplish something like that in Texas, of all places, he has my great respect.

The theme of this book is similar - authorities focus on a single suspect, decide he is guilty, and develop tunnel vision that prevents him from receiving justice. No doubt that is what happened to Adams. But Morris is wrong in suggesting the same thing happened to MacDonald.

In the Adams case, a police officer had been senselessly murdered during a routine traffic stop. Everyone in the region, the police, the D.A., and the public, was out for blood. Adams was fingered for the crime (by the teenager who actually committed it), brought in for questioning and then arrested. He was a drifter, a nobody. He had no solid alibi, and he was old enough to receive the death penalty, whereas the real killer was not. For those bent on social vengeance, Adams was perfect.

MacDonald, on the other hand, couldn't have been a less desirable suspect for his authorities. He was a Green Beret captain, a paratrooper, a respected physician, and well liked by all of his peers and superiors. The crime occurred at Fort Bragg, so the Army was in charge, and it's inconceivable his commanders would have relished one of their rising stars going down for such a crime. If the cards were stacked initially, it was in MacDonald's favor.

It was only after extensively interviewing MacDonald that lower ranking Army investigators decided there was something very fishy about his story describing drug-crazed hippie home invaders, and brought that surely unwelcome conclusion to their superiors. After a hearing, the Army still declined to prosecute him, largely because its own inept crime scene personnel had badly compromised the physical evidence. Does that appear to have been a rush to judgment?

Morris has a lot to say about misconduct by prosecutors in MacDonald's civilian trial, which occurred years later, and there's no question that their performance was deplorable (one of those prosecutors has since been disbarred). The appeals courts have ruled that the prosecution's misdeeds did not affect the outcome of the trial; Morris disagrees, as do I. But believing the verdict should be overturned on legal grounds is one thing; believing an innocent man was convicted is another, and Morris makes the latter case - by implication if not by direct statement.

In fact, MacDonald's federal prosecutors found themselves in the same pickle the Army prosecutors had - the crime scene had been so contaminated that it was impossible to prove anything with the evidence it yielded, at least some of which seemed to be consistent with MacDonald's story. But they were convinced of his guilt, so they decided to cheat. They used only evidence supporting their case and illegally buried the rest, much of which has come to light during MacDonald's three decades in prison.

Now it's easy to raise eyebrows high at that, and Morris clearly finds it extremely damaging to the overall case against MacDonald. But he's ignoring the irony that it was MacDonald's own legal team who first demonstrated how forensically useless the crime scene was. They can't logically make that claim, and then claim that the physical evidence friendly to him is relevant. You have to trust all of that evidence or none of it. Not only that, but Morris's arguments assume that if there is any reliable evidence that the people MacDonald described actually were in his home, then MacDonald must be telling the truth. But just one alternate explanation for such evidence is that those people were in MacDonald's home earlier in the evening (or on a previous day) and departed peacefully, leaving MacDonald with four convenient and well remembered patsies. If Morris has considered this, he doesn't mention it.

With his focus on such shaky evidence, Morris ignores the powerful evidentiary area that began convincing people MacDonald was guilty in the first place - his own words. His account is simply not believable, in far too many respects to list here. For just one thing, his cartoonish description of the behavior of the "killer hippies" could easily be recognized as bogus by anyone with the slightest familiarity with late '60s counterculture. Morris also does not address the obvious question of why such people might brutally slaughter a woman and two small children, yet leave alive and relatively unhurt a robust adult male who represented their greater threat, had seen them, and could probably identify them. Or why MacDonald has never agreed to an independently administered polygraph examination, as anyone falsely accused of a crime most certainly would. If he were innocent, he would have begged to be so examined.

Another major focus of Morris's journalistic attention is the pathetic, drug-addled Helena Stoekely, theorized to have been the "blonde with the floppy hat." The only thing about her that seems certain is that on the night of the murders, and most other nights, she was admittedly high as the sky on mescaline (significantly, she never mentioned taking LSD). She variously said she was not involved, was involved, thinks she remembers maybe being involved, had dreams about being involved, etc. And as any police detective knows, people who volunteer confessions of crimes most often are simply attention seekers. Morris asserts, probably accurately, that she was coerced by the prosecutors to recant in the trial, but it doesn't matter. She never had a coherent story to begin with. As a witness, she was useless, and I find it surprising that Morris takes her as seriously as he seems to.

Oh, and MacDonald claims Stoekely chanted "Acid is groovy, kill the pigs." That's interesting because 1) There has never been a confirmed case of anyone committing murder under the influence of LSD, and 2) In Stoekely's world at that time, anyone speaking the obsolete slang "groovy" would have caused everyone else to run for the toilets to flush their stashes. Not to mention that "..kill the pigs" is a thought completely unrelated to the first one, and the combination makes no sense if true, but all the sense in the world if MacDonald made it up to suggest a motive.

Renowned statement analyst Mark McClish has dissected the initial interviews and has no doubt MacDonald was lying, and statement analysis is acknowledged even by leading polygraph practitioners to be a powerful tool at least equal to their own. And of course if he was lying about who committed the crime, it's logical to assume he himself did, even with no physical evidence nor known motive.

Morris makes an excellent case that MacDonald did not get a fair trial, with which I agree. And the initial investigation truly was a "wilderness of error." But could Jeff MacDonald actually be innocent, as Morris suggests? Highly unlikely, in my opinion. I understand that Morris is providing a side of the story that may have been drowned out by the "Fatal Vision" media hype. But it isn't a convincing one.
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94 of 105 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing "mysterious" about this case, December 27, 2012
By 
Steamchef (Las Cruces, NM) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (Hardcover)
A jury, hand-picked by Jeffrey MacDonald's defense team, determined MacDonald's guilt -- two counts of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree murder -- after deliberating only six and a half hours. The members of the jury said later that they'd taken even that long only because they wanted to be sure they had been completely fair to MacDonald.

And now along comes Errol Morris, acting as if this convicted triple murderer were merely a defendant entitled to the presumption of innocence. The real mystery is why Morris should assume that MacDonald, demonstrably a liar, is incapable of lying about the crimes for which he was justly and properly convicted.

Even the book's front matter and the first few pages of the prologue contain egregious errors of fact:

1. MacDonald was never a Green Beret. He was an army surgeon assigned to the Green Berets.
2. Joe McGinniss was not a member of MacDonald's defense team. He was embedded with the defense, but he never made any agreement whatsoever with Jeffrey MacDonald regarding the scope or the content of his eventual book, "Fatal Vision."
3. Freddy Kassab is most definitely NOT the "protagonist" of McGinniss's book. He is the progatonist of the film that was based on "Fatal Vision."

The remainder of Morris's book is filled with far more serious errors. The book betrays the author's ignorance not only of the law but also of case-related material that Morris should have read, or should have read more carefully, during the twenty years he claims to have devoted to researching the case. This material includes transcripts of the U.S. Army's "Article 32" hearing from 1970, transcripts of testimony before the 1974 grand jury, transcripts from the 1979 trial, and reports describing more than a thousand pieces of evidence that point directly at Jeffrey MacDonald and no one else -- evidence that the defense did not dispute for the simple reason that the evidence is indisputable.

As everyone knows, Jeffrey MacDonald has consistently maintained his innocence since 1970. He has also continued to tell a preposterous story about the murders. That story didn't hold water in 1970, it didn't hold water in 1974, it didn't hold water in 1979, and it doesn't hold water now. In fact, MacDonald's story would be hilarious if its context didn't make it obscene.

Errol Morris did great work in "The Thin Blue Line" and "The Fog of War," but he's really screwed the pooch with this project. The "new evidence" that Morris presents is not new at all. It's the same so-called evidence that was considered and appropriately dismissed many, many times before. It's just that MacDonald, who has spent more than thirty years in court trying to avoid punishment for his crimes, has found yet another loophole through which to drag this discredited "evidence" into yet another hearing, in a case that has already been to the Supreme Court seven times (soon to be eight).

And Errol Morris's treatment of Freddy Kassab is shameful, both in the book and in publicity surrounding its publication. FREDDY KASSAB WAS A HERO! When Kassab was MacDonald's staunchest supporter, he took action on a heroic scale to assert his son-in-law's innocence and clear his name. And after Kassab reluctantly concluded that his son-in-law was indeed guilty, he took equally heroic action to make sure that MacDonald would be indicted, tried, and convicted.

MacDonald's conviction for first-degree murder, by the way, was for the premeditated and cynical killing of his two-year-old daughter, Kristen -- a murder committed for no other purpose than to create the cover story he knew he was going to need after mortally wounding his wife, Colette (then four months pregnant with their never-to-be-born son), and their five-year-old daughter, Kimberly. After all, what better coverup than a story about a home invasion, complete with an army captain's central-casting notion of "hippies," the kind who slaughter while chanting "Acid is groovy" (sic) and "Kill the pigs," and who leave behind no footprints or DNA evidence, and who use only weapons they happen to find lying around the MacDonald household, and who then cleverly dispose of the murder weapons under a bush right outside the house's back door? And what jury, after all, wouldn't do its damnedest NOT to believe that a father could deliberately stab his own baby girl to death in order to save his own skin?

MacDonald's attorneys should have prepared a temporary-insanity defense. But they couldn't, because MacDonald stuck to his patently ludicrous story, and now he has only himself to blame for being right where he belongs until the day he dies. Long may he live.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A cherry picked, misleading account, March 8, 2013
By 
B. J. Bernstein (Silver Spring, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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Mr. Morris has undeniable talent, and some interesting things to say about the nature of evidence etc. His musings on Poe, Dumas and other writers were actually the best part of the book. And if you only read this book, you might believe that MacDonald was indeed railroaded. However, one recurring element that made me suspicious about his objectivity is the way he character assassinates almost everyone involved in the case who believes MacDonald is guilty. This includes the Kassab's , McGinniss and pretty much all of the prosecutors. Then if you read other accounts, Fatal Vision, Final Vision and Weingarten's Post article, a truer picture emerges. Morris fails to deal effectively with the facts of the case that contradict his presentation.

I ended up believing that MacDonald was guilty due to the "evidence as a whole". MacDonald's account of the hippie intruders strains credulity, to say the least, and that is his entire defense. Morris brings up Manson as an analog to what might have happened here. Indeed the Manson story is likely what gave MacDonald the idea for his version. However, it is extremely hard to believe that Manson-like killers could have committed this horrific crime, in the 70's or at any other time, and not left more of a trail than the pathetic Stoeckley story. In the Manson case you had a cult/gang of violent druggies with apocalyptic beliefs. They left a significant trail, and it was inevitable that they would be caught, because they committed escalating, violent crimes. The people around Stoeckley seem like more typical petty criminals, drug using losers, but not particularly violent. Stoeckley was also mentally ill, and clearly suffering from delusions. Let's put it this way, if your main claim to innocence rests on poor Helena Stoeckley, you're in trouble. You have to read the whole account to truly understand this.

Regardless of the debated severity of MacDonald's wounds, it is also unbelievable that he would have survived the attack at all. His wife and daughters are killed and overkilled by drug crazed intruders, with multiple, shocking wounds, and MacDonald, the only male member of the household is also the only survivor? Please tell me this is not the story you believe, Mr. Morris. Morris also makes much of how the integrity of the crime scene was violated, and then proceeds to tell the convoluted tale of specific fabric, hairs etc.from the scene. He can't have it both ways. Morris's talents are pretty much wasted on this case.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NEW INFORMATION LET DOWN, November 13, 2012
This review is from: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (Hardcover)
LET ME START BY SAYING I WAS ONE OF THE FIRST MILITARY POLICEMEN IN THE MAC DONALD HOUSE THAT NIGHT. I ADMINISTERED FIRST AID TO MAC DONALD AT THE SCENE. I HAVE NEVER RESPONDED TO POSTINGS ON LINE, OR REPLIED TO LETTERS I'VE RECEIVED FROM PEOPLE FOLLOWING THIS CASE.

I WAS HESITANT TO BE INTERVIEWED BY MR MORRIS WHEN HE CONTACTED ME IN 2011. AFTER CHECKING HIS PAST WORK I WAS HOPING THAT HE MIGHT BE BRINGING SOME NEW INFORMATION TO THE SUBJECT. UNFORTUNATELY I'M DISAPPOINTED BY SOME OF WHAT I'VE READ. THERE ARE QUITE A FEW ERROR OF FACT AND STRETCHED CONCLUSIONS.

FIRST HE SAYS HE SPOKE TO ME AS I WAS HELPING MY SON CLEAN UP AFTER HURRICANE IRENE IN 2011..............PROBLEM IS MY SON DIED IN 1997 .

SECONDLY HE QUOTES TED LANDRETH THE PRODUCER OF THE BBC DOCUMENTARY AS SAYING I NEVER TOLD HIM THAT "I KNEW HELENA STOKLEY AND THAT THE WOMAN I OBSERVED EN ROUTE TO THE MAC DONALD HOUSE THAT NIGHT WASN'T STOKLEY"

THAT IS CORRECT.............THE PROBLEM IS I NEVER SPOKE TO LANDRETH FROM THE BBC. I ONLY SPOKE WITH BARBARA PRITCHARD AND CHRIS OLAGIATI OF THE BBC....NOT LANDRETH.

THERE ARE OTHER INCORRECT STATEMENTS I'VE NOTICED IN THE BOOK ALSO, BUT THE MAIN REASON I'M NOT COMPELLED TO RECOMMEND THIS BOOK IS THAT IT'S JUST THE SAME OLD MATERIAL THAT'S BEEN PRESENTED FOR THE LAST 42 YEARS,
NOTHING REALLY NEW.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Amicus Brief for the Defense, October 11, 2012
This review is from: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (Hardcover)
Mr. Morris has indicated elsewhere that he may next work on a book about the Kennedy assassination, which would seem to align nicely with his trajectory here. A Wilderness of Error proceeds at a steady pace towards inevitable disintegration along conspiratorial lines - there is even a "grassy knoll" somewhere in Fayetteville upon which some potentially "murderous hippies" were once seen by an eyewitness never interviewed by the authorities. This case has plenty of loose ends, and fibers, for Mr. Morris to tie together. Indeed, one of the most compelling pieces in support of MacDonald's version of events is the unexplained saran fibers found at the scene, which could have come from a wig. Nonetheless, those looking for a repeat of Morris's command performance in The Thin Blue Line will be sorely disappointed. In essence, Mr. Morris presents a sterling brief for the defense, but in fact largely ignores the biggest hole in his case - Jeffrey MacDonald himself. The disparity in the injuries between MacDonald and his family, not to mention the implausibility of MacDonald's version of events, is what ultimately condemned him. A pajama top used as a shield to fend off an icepick attack is no more plausible today than it was in 1970. Admittedly, perhaps if Mr. Morris had been on that defense team during the original trial, the outcome might have been different. Because of this, however, if you are looking for a balanced and thoughtful weighing of all the evidence in this case, I would not recommend this book. If you are interested in a picking apart of inconsistencies in the evidence or initial trial, including a thorough trashing of the author Joe McGinniss, and also the MacDonald in-laws, Freddy and Mildred Kassab, then you might enjoy this book. Also, if you are interested in why we have trials in the first place, especially with juries as opposed to just the single mind of someone like Mr. Morris deciding cases, than you might also consider this as backhanded primer in civics. As noted, the disintegration of narrative here is plain to see, at least to everyone aside from Mr. Morris, who says during one lighthearted exchange on page 285: "There is something wrong with me. You have no idea." A joke of course, but I find it telling nonetheless. Perhaps what's wrong with Mr. Morris is his single-minded obsession with his own favorite narrative of choice - institutional failure - such that he ignores the plain truth, which is that most of the time institutions work, and it's a good thing we have them.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Errol Morris, I used to trust you, December 8, 2012
This review is from: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (Hardcover)
I am appalled that Mr. Morris could be taken in by MacDonald, and produced this shabby, amateurish book. Read Gene Weingarten's piece in the Washington Post of December 5 [...] for a clear and concise refutation of Morris's - and MacDonald's - flimsy arguments. Morris himself ignores evidence and misstates facts, and has no cogent alternate theory of the crime. He drank the Kool Aid of a narcissist and now he wants to drown the rest of us as well. Shame on you, Mr. Morris. Shame.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Morris guilty of the same thing he condemns the government of - predetermined result., October 8, 2012
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This review is from: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (Hardcover)
Fascinating subject. I live in NC and this case has always held a ton of interest in our area.

Morris accuses the investigators and prosecution of deciding MacDonald was guilty, and then gathering and presenting evidence which only fit their case. He seems incapable of objectively analyzing the evidence and pays little credence to the "girl in the floppy hat" as far as her extensive drug use as a reason to doubt her confession. And, if she made a death-bed confession (again) then why wouldn't she give all of the details and why wouldn't she name the other assailants?

Finally, as an attorney practicing in eastern NC, his depiction of Judge Dupree as less than qualified, biased and skipping over a conflict (his ex son in law was involved in the investigation) just is not correct. And, the trial was in 1979. He and Bernie Segal (MacDonald's lead defense counsel) portray the jury as a bunch of hayseeds, which is simply not the case.

Anyway, an interesting story, but nothing new.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tissue of lies, December 15, 2012
This review is from: A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (Hardcover)
Morris convinces himself that Macdonald is innocent by ignoring and dismissing the massive amount of evidence proving Macdonald guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone on the fence about this case (or buying this book) should read Gene Weingarten's takedown of Morris' book in the Washington Post. Here's a tip: when a young woman and her two little girls have been viciously murdered, and the man of the house--a strong, powerful Green Beret--has one little puncture wound and a couple of scratches, you can bet he did it.
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Flawed - in more ways than one., September 22, 2012
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Before getting into a substantive review of the book, I must advise potential buyers not to buy the Kindle e-book version. Even though the publisher, Penguin I believe, outrageously set the Kindle version at almost the same price as the hardcover price at Amazon, Costco, etc., they didn't take the time or effort to reformat it for the electronic version of the book. So, as one example, long quotations that are indented paragraphs in the paper version are not indented in the e-book version. So, at times, it is difficult to discern whether the information, opinions, etc. expressed are those of the author or those of someone the author has interviewed. It makes the e-book version very difficult to follow. So if you are going to buy the book, pay the extra buck or so and get the hardcover.

As to the book itself, if you haven't read the book "Fatal Vision" or some other detailed description of the murder, investigation, and judicial proceedings, you need to because this book, essentially a critique, doesn't provide that background in a coherent way. Finally, the book is poorly organized, jumping ahead 40 year, back 20, ahead 15, back 30, etc. And is way too long and repetitious. For example, it seems like hundreds of pages throughout the book are spent speculating as to whether a central figure in the drama was or was not the "girl in the floppy hat.". I finally found myself skimming the last 100 pages because it was more of the same.
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A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald
A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald by Errol Morris (Hardcover - September 4, 2012)
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