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Fatal Vision Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1984
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I have read everything on this case and what stands out for me is the hold this has on almost anyone who chooses to become aware of the story. I completely understand Mr McGuinnises feelings about Jeffrey MacDonald....the questions one askes : if he did this how can I like him? The doubt one might have, even in the face of so much physical proof.
It is not the facts which cause one to doubt MacDonalds guilt.......it is MacDonald himself. It is our faith in ourselves and our own goodness which causes us to doubt that he could be guilty of such a thing.
Rod Stewart sings a song with the lyrics:
If i listen long enough to you,
Ill find a way to believe that its all true.
Knowin that you lied ,straight faced, while I cried.
Still I look to find a reason to believe.
And that is the thing about jeffrey MacDonald, he is the kindof guy who makes you look to find a reason to believe he is innocent. So much about him appears , at least on the surface, like us. So much about him looks good, looks in some cases, even better then us.
After reading Fatal Vision I realized I know Collette MacDonald and what went on in the MacDonald family much more. Throughout the book Jeff MacDonald gives examples where he, in a sense, abandons his wife and children. He leaves her living at his parents home while he works and goes to school. He leaves her while he is working and in medical school, he doesnt attend the birth of their 2nd child, he joins the army, he joins the Green Berets, he joins the boxing team.....all things that will take him away from his wife and family. What wife would be happy about that? He is constantly telling Collette I am leaving you alone. I have work, i have friends, I have an activity. He often has more then one job. When there is a chance for he and Collette and the children to be alone and have family time Jeff invites people over; the neighbors, his friends, family. On Valentines day before the murders Jeff had a friend of his over to the house. What wife wants to spend Valentines day with her husbands friend?? There is also an example of a holiday where Collette was preparing a huge dinner and Jeff wanted to invite the neighbors over. Collette clearly told him no and he did it anyway and ruined her dinner. Hours of her hard work and the love put into a family dinner is ruined by him. Do people really believe she didnt FEEL the blatent disregard for her in that?? He bought a pony. Everyone likes to believe this pony is a grand gesture. Why would a mother with 3 small children under the age of 6 , who will be alone and saddled with the responsibilities of a home, wish to take on the responsiblity of a pony??? Again Collette is completely disregarded. Collette loved MacDonald , of that i am certain. Because she asked for so little from him emotionally. And its very clear she got nothing.
MacDonalds mother also says that she never saw any cruelty in her son. I beg to differ. I see cruelty when a husband invites a friend over for Valentines day instead of giving the evening to his wife in appreciation for her love and devotion. I see cruelty when instead of protecting the thought, love, and time that went into a holiday dinner his wife is preparing he invites people over who are not family and devalues his wifes efforts. I see cruelty when his wife, who needs a C section, which is major surgery, and he leaves her bedside, the hospital having her to go through it alone. He was a doctor. Any doctor knows with surgery there is a risk of death. He apparently didnt care and this was conveyed to Collette. In addition to all this.....are the betrayals....the numerous women he slept with. He had no time for his wife or family, but he somehow made time for them. In the book he says she may have known about the stewrdess......he thinks nothing of this, yet anyone who has ever been cheated on can tell you.....one stewardess is one too many. The pain of one is tremendous.
I know MacDonald. I went out with someone just like him. A golden boy on the outside. To this day a golden boy. Most would find it difficult to believe what this person is like behind closed doors. Except those who are VERY close to him. The thing is, so few people are emotionally close to him. Like MacDonald, he has a million friends and yet no truely close friend who KNOWS him. Like MacDonald he will tell you anything. Like MacDonald he is obsessed with his image of golden boy and will say and do anything to keep that image. Like MacDonald he is a liar, a manipulator, a fake. He is an ape. He mimics emotion and caring, but feels nothing for others. His currency is praise and admiration, he feeds off it like it was food. In McGuinesses book Collette wrote MacDonald a letter in the very beginning. In it she signs by saying she adores him. I was shocked, because my friend was told the same thing by me and I used those exact words....I adore you. His comment? I like that. I like those words you used....no one has ever said that to me before. So I know why MacDonald kept that particular letter. Collette adored him. We all know that means she loved him. But for MacDonald ....it meant he was a god.
The book is not a hatchet job on Jeffrey MacDonald. His actions and words are sufficient to draw negative conclusions about his character. As charismatic as he seems to be, when attention about him becomes negative, he responds in very non-charismatic fashion. Repeatedly. Uncontrollably. Without fail. In MacDonald's mind, he appears to be the center of the universe and worthy of awe.
It took me about 10 days to get through the book. At no time was I tempted to move on to other reading. But it is long. If McGinniss had left out any part of the book, it could be regarded as selectively anti-MacDonald. MacDonald's improbable explanation of the murders (complete strangers, hippies on LSD, who just collectively decided to violently murder a pregnant woman and two young girls while leaving the Green Beret relatively unscathed) is a far reach even for those who would like to give him the benefit of the doubt.