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Fatal Vision (1983)

by Joe McGinniss

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8532219,706 (3.99)36
Fatal Vision is the electrifying true story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the handsome, Princeton-educated physician convicted of savagely slaying his young pregnant wife and two small children, murders he vehemently denies committing.
  1. 10
    Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule (whirled)
    whirled: Another well-written true crime account of a narcissistic parent on trial for murder.
  2. 10
    A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald by Errol Morris (eswnr)
    eswnr: The other side of the story.
  3. 00
    The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm (eswnr)
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» See also 36 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Engaging story about an "All-American" man who is accused of killing his family. Set and written in the late 70s/early 80s. Shows its age in some ways, though the casual sexism of some of the characters does not go unanalyzed; in fact, it contributes to a picture of the role misogyny played in the crimes and the investigation of them.

Some of the psychological analysis feels quaint -- and a little too lengthy -- but generally feels like a realistic of the long, drawn-out process of investigation and trial for murder, without (very often) feeling too slow. In spite of its length, I genuinely wondered about the innocence of the main character til the end. Enjoyed the device early in the book of two parallel stories: the background and history from the point of view of the pro/antagonist leading up to the crime, and the investigation after the fact. ( )
  chknight | Oct 24, 2020 |
(46) Oh dear - close to 1000 page book I read in a week; compelling; horrifying. I was inspired to read it because of getting hooked on a documentary about yet another high profile domestic murder in North Carolina set in places I am familiar with. This is the McDonald case which really was before my time in North Carolina; frankly before my time period as the murder took place shortly before I was born. The murdered little girls would have been around my age had they lived. Within 6 months of the Manson murders, a Army doctor claims hippies broke in in the dead of night and killed his wife and two little girls and injured him. They even wrote PIG on the headboard of the bed in blood. Dr. McDonald barely escaped with his life. . . Yeah, right. . .

I thought McGinnis' writing was reminiscent of Capote in that there was some haunting artistry there. All the sections that were clearly transcripts of McDonald's own words verbatim were powerful. There was a lot of really interesting psychopathology discussed regarding personality formation and pathologic defense mechanisms, etc. I am not sure how much criminal psychologists and psychiatrists really believe these theories at this time - it all seemed a bit Freudian and dated. But nevertheless, fascinating. Psychology is always slightly horrifying to me as one begins to realize echoes of one's own pathology. Could I be like him too? Of dear, I have disdain for everyone as well . . what does that mean?

While in general I typically castigate myself for reading true crime and judge it harshly - I have to say, that I read this at a breakneck pace and was totally drawn into the drama and just could not get enough of trying to read into all the nuances of what could have made this man snap; what was it that made people so clearly fall under his spell? How could he do it? Enough said. ( )
  jhowell | Oct 3, 2020 |
True Crime Classic on sale:
$1.99 today, 6.4.18
https://amzn.to/2xGX8lD ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (May 2009; read this 1983):
- I read this waaaaay back in college. I'm not so much inclined to the true-crime genre today, but this was bewitching. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Nov 11, 2018 |
In February of 1970 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Green Beret and physician, Jeffrey MacDonald, survived what he said was a break-in that resulted in the murders of his wife and two little girls, aged 2 and 5 years. It was only after 9 years that Jeffrey himself was finally charged and put on trial (though there was a hearing via the army back in 1970). Unfortunately, there were many errors during the army’s investigation into the murders. Jeffrey’s father-in-law, and early supporter, was later convinced of his guilt (after reading the transcripts of the army hearing) and pushed for years to get MacDonald on trial for the murder of his stepdaughter and grandkids.

I’ve had this book since high school and I don’t believe I ever did read it back then. I’m glad I’ve now finally read it. There were some chapters interspersed, mostly at the start of the book, but also occasionally later on, called “The Voice of Jeffrey MacDonald”. At the start, much of this was recounting his and his wife Colette’s history. I didn’t find these parts nearly as interesting, though I suppose it gives the reader a bit of insight into Jeffrey, himself. Overall, though, it was a fascinating read.

Personal opinion on the case: I have no doubt that he did it. He story just doesn’t hold up for me, not even a little bit. And this is before the physical evidence. ( )
  LibraryCin | Apr 17, 2017 |
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On May 31, 1963, from her mother and step-father's apartment overlooking Washington Square in New York City, Collette Stevenson, who was twenty years old had just completed her sophomore year at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, wrote a letter to her boyfriend, Jeffery MacDonald, who was about to finish his second year at Princeton.
Introduction: I first met Dr. Jeffery MacDonald in Huntington Beach, California, on a hot cloudless Saturday morning in June of 1979.
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Fatal Vision is the electrifying true story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the handsome, Princeton-educated physician convicted of savagely slaying his young pregnant wife and two small children, murders he vehemently denies committing.

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The electrifying true story of Dr Jeffrey MacDonald, the handsome, Princeton-educated physician convicted of savagely slaying his young pregnant wife and two small children, murders he vehemently denies committing. Bestselling author Joe McGinniss chronicles every aspect of this horrifying and intricate crime, and probes the life and psychic of the magnetic, all-American Jeffrey MacDonald, a golden boy who seemed destined to have it all. the result is a penetration to the heart of darkness that enshrouded one of the most complex criminal cases ever to capture the attention of the American public. [Read media hyped circus] It is a haunting, stunningly suspenseful work that no reader will be able to forget.
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