Thursday, January 29, 2009

Forgotten Books: Vincent Bugliosi

If the measure of the power of a book is the length of time it stays with you, then these two true crime books written by Vincent Bugilosi twenty-five years ago are indeed powerful and deserve never to be forgotten.

It was so quiet, one of the killers would later say, you could almost hear the sound of ice rattling in cocktail shakers in the homes way down the canyon.

So begins Bugliosi's mesmerizing book Helter Skelter about Charles Manson, his followers, and their southern California crime spree in the 1960s. I still remember reading this book shortly after it was published. I was enthralled throughout, oblivious to the world around me; in turns horrified, sickened, "creeped out"... but never once willing to stop reading. Bugliosi introduced me to the minds and the world of people I did not know existed, and he made me want the answer to that age-old question, "Why?" This book holds the same power over me today.

It had rained during the night, one of those warm tropical showers that leaves the air heavy and sweet.

And the Sea Will Tell begins in 1974 on the island of Maui. It is the true story of two couples, one wealthy and married, the other an ex-con and his hippie girlfriend, who separately set sail for a remote South Pacific island. Only two of the original four live through the experience, and by book's end, I felt rather weak and shaken myself. Bugliosi once again wrote a book that spellbinds and stands the test of time.

If you'd like more excellent reading suggestions, head on over to Patti's excellent weekly series Friday's Forgotten Books on her blog, Pattinase!


  1. I've never read "And the Sea Will Tell," but I read "Helter Skelter" when it first came out, and I've re-read it several times since. It's a wonderful true-crime book. One of those books, as you say, that you really just can't put down. I'll have to check out the Forgotten Books blog - sounds interesting!

  2. Seeing these books gave me shivers! And the Sea Will Tell is my all-time favorite non-fiction book. Years and years ago, when my I was a 19 year old hellion, my dad convinced me to give up my 1977 Z28 by buying me a 32' sailboat. I agreed and we went off to look at boats. I couldn't find the "right" one. Meanwhile, I was reading the Bugliosi book for the first time. So when I finally found a boat called the Sea Wind (same as in the book), I knew I'd found the right one. I lived on that boat for two years and it was a member of the family for many years after that.

    I know, I know, more info than you needed to know....but now I'm going to have to dig out my copy of this book and re-read it. Thanks for the memories!!

  3. Joy--I still remember how my blood ran cold when Bugliosi described them creeping around houses moving things around with the homeowners in bed asleep in the house! The Forgotten Books series Patti runs every Friday is a great source for reading material. I hope you get a chance to check it out!

    Michele--never too much info. I loved hearing your memories!

  4. AAAAAAHHHHH! I read "Helter Skelter" and I've tried to put it out of mind since then and now you've reminded me. It just gave me nightmares to think about.


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