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Fatal Vision

Fatal Vision

Written by Joe McGinniss

Narrated by Christopher Reeve


Fatal Vision

Written by Joe McGinniss

Narrated by Christopher Reeve

ratings:
4.5/5 (31 ratings)
Length:
2 hours
Released:
Aug 26, 2008
ISBN:
9780743581745
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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.
Released:
Aug 26, 2008
ISBN:
9780743581745
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Joe McGinniss (1942–2014) was an American journalist, nonfiction writer, and novelist. He first came to prominence with the bestselling The Selling of the President, which described the marketing of then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon. It spent more than six months on bestseller lists. He is popularly known for his trilogy of bestselling true crime books—Fatal Vision, Blind Faith, and Cruel Doubt—which were adapted into several TV miniseries and movies. Over the course of forty years, McGinniss published twelve books.


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What people think about Fatal Vision

4.4
31 ratings / 19 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    I actually read this book in 1984 when it was first published. It is a fascinating true story and I enjoyed the book very much. There was a recent article in People magazine and Jeffery MacDonald may get a new trial because of DNA findings and other people's confessions.
  • (3/5)
    I give this only 3 stars. I felt it was somewhat confusing, and there seemed to be an undercurrent of the authors own views as to MacDonald's guilt.
  • (4/5)
    I don't buy every word of it, and the circumstances of its conception are a little shady at best, but Fatal Vision is one hell of a read.
  • (4/5)
    I'm not generally a fan of true crime books, but I'd read Janet Malcom's [The Journalist and the Murderer] a few years ago, which very much criticized Joe McGinniss' tactics in putting this book together (as he gained his subject's trust and then wrote a book proclaiming that he was surely guilty of his crimes.) So, I decided I should probably read the source material.The book tells the story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, who was eventually convicted of murdering his wife and two young daughters (along with an unborn son) in a controversial case that spanned 10 years. McGinniss does a fine job presenting the story and showing his view of MacDonald's character. It's a really readable book and shows how McGinniss came to the conclusion that MacDonald was guilty (and the reasons why a jury did too.)The physical evidence against MacDonald is rather damning (and it's interesting that Malcom to ignore physical evidence as part of her book.) It might have been a bit more beneficial to read these books in reverse order, but I'm happy to have read them both.
  • (5/5)
    The first time I read this book I was 15 years old. Though some of the language was above my understanding, I got the nuts and bolts of the story. In my first review of this book I wondered what maturity would have done for my understanding of just what happened on 2/17/1969 at Fort Bragg in the home of Collette and Jeffrey MacDonald. After writing that the case has nagged at me quite a bit. I wondered why there was still so much controversy. So as not to spoil the read for anyone else, I think I will not go into what I believe is the reason this case remains as an unsettled moment in time.

    What I will say about this book is that Joe McGinniss goes into detail describing the crimes. He goes over every detail of the investigations, errors, and evidence that contributed to the prosecution of Jeffrey MacDonald. Mr. McGinniss painstakingly gathered information from friends, colleagues, family, acquaintances, and past lovers. The research is impeccable, the conclusion inevitable.

    It has been 30 years since the first time I read this story. The impact it had on me then was that this case stayed in my mind, as it seems to have done with all that came into contact with the case. The impact that it has on me now is not very different. I suspect that 30 years from now I will still be wondering what his motive was, because as Freddy Kassab said, "Jeffrey MacDonald will never tell."
  • (4/5)
    I read this book after reading Gene Weingarten's article in the Washington Post Magazine about the prosecutor Brian Murtagh who still drags himself to MacDonald's innumerable appeals and petitions for release. Someone has to speak for the victims here.

    Weingarten's article was written in response to a new book on the Jeffrey MacDonald case by Errol Morris, the author who famously wrote The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War.

    In reading the article, it occurred to me that while I had certainly heard of this case throughout my life (I was five when the murders occurred, a freshman in high school when MacDonald's trial occurred, and in college and law school throughout his many appeals and his suit against the author, Joe McGinniss), I had never actually read the book.

    I gave this four stars because while it is truly a fascinating read, it is difficult to get through. MacDonald is incredibly unlikeable-- his own voice is the most condemning in the book. So shallow. So narcissistic. So very, very creepy. Having read it, I now understand why many of the critics of the Morris book refer back to this one. McGinniss explores the facts of the case and all of the evidence, and leads the reader to see the gigantic gulf between MacDonald's version of events and the evidence in the case. And there is evidence. The initial investigation was botched in ways that would be comical if it weren't so tragic and didn't have such devastating consequences: The crime scene was never secured and was corrupted in many exciting ways that would make the average prosecutor long to line up the entire crew of investigators and beat them with the murder weapon. Evidence was lost. Evidence was thrown away. Heck, an ambulance driver who had responded to the scene STOLE MACDONALD'S WALLET FROM HIS DESK while the MPs looked on!

    For all that Morris and MacDonald rail against the boobtastic and slapstick investigation, they miss the essential irony of his case: If the police had not bungled the initial investigation so badly, MacDonald would have been convicted swiftly and surely with little fanfare. No book deals, no miniseries, no TV appearances... it would have just been another sad domestic case. The evidence that was lost and/or corrupted would have very likely only further secured his guilt.
  • (4/5)
    I remember when the murders happened and I gave MacDonald the benefit of the doubt at the time, thinking maybe he did, maybe he didn't. This book convinced me he did it.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    Early in the morning of February 17, 1970 police were summoned to the Fort Bragg home of Jeffrey MacDonald, a Green Beret captain. Inside they found a horrifying crime scene. MacDonald's pregnant wife, Colette, was stabbed 16 times with a knife and 21 times with an ice pick. His two daughters were also dead. Five year old Kimberly had been bludgeoned and stabbed in the neck and two year old Kristen was stabbed 48 times. MacDonald had a few superficial wounds. The Army investigated first, and MacDonald was cleared at a closed military hearing. Eventually his father-in-law prevailed and local civilian authorities agreed to file charges against MacDonald. First published in 1983, and coming in at just under a thousand pages, Fatal Vision is an incredibly well written book that reads like a novel much more than a non-fiction book about one of the most famous murder trials held in the United States. It's the story of a tragedy but is still spellbinding to read. MacDonald seemed to ?have it all?, a career as a Green Berets doctor, a beautiful wife, two daughters, and a new baby on the way. McGinniss gives us clues along the way that help explain why he thinks it might have happened but MacDonald has never revealed any information, other than he is not guilty. Once I started this book I couldn't put it down. I became convinced of his guilt based on the evidence that was presented, but other readers may not be convinced. I highly recommend Fatal Vision if you have any interest at all in true crime, or even if you don't.
  • (2/5)
    Deeply problematic, both in the way that McGinniss gained MacDonald's trust, and how he eventually presents the facts. His theory as to a motive is also completely ludicrous, and silly as an attempt to complete the story that the prosecution tried to tell. You can see why it was so damning to MacDonald's case in the public eye, and how it's distorted every subsequent attempt to show his innocence or guilt?and whether he received a fair trial.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This has to be one of my most favorite true crime novels. Did he or didn't he?Some of the evidence clearly points to him, but some of the evidence says otherwise.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    The book about Jeffrey MacDonald and the murder of his family is not without controversy and detractors. Janet Malcolm's 1990 book, The Journalist and the Murderer," accused McGinniss of acting like a confidence man, pretending friendship to gain MacDonald's trust long after McGinnis had been convinced of his guilt. As she herself posits in her book, this is part of journalism's stock and trade. I've seen it in action myself. I found myself misquoted once in a national, very famous magazine--and I had considered the writer of the article a friend. He caught me when I was upset and just blurted out how I felt, only to find it used and distorted on the page. I asked him why he made up the words he put into my mouth and his answer to me was simple: "The way I wrote it was funnier." I've been peripherally involved twice in events surrounding news stories--what I read in the newspapers and magazines bore little resemblance to the facts I personally knew. So Malcolm's accusation that McGinniss tarted up MacDonald's personality, forcing him into the profile of a narcissist to better sell the book does hit home with me. It's a serious and on the face of it a plausible charge given my own experience. However I vividly remember the 60 Minutes interview by Mike Wallace of MacDonald confronting him with passages from Fatal Vision in manuscript. His story just didn't wash, for multiple reasons you can read about in this book. I certainly have no doubts, especially after reading this book, that MacDonald is guilty beneath his glossy, charismatic surface. Those defending him try to blacken McGinniss' motives and methods, but I don't see them disputing his facts. Yes, there's something unsavory about how McGinniss got his story, just as there was with the documentary of Michael Jackson put together by Martin Bashir that put forth unsavory allegations about Jackson's relationships with young boys. Both men betrayed a trust, but that doesn't mean either story is inaccurate. One thing for sure, you can't question McGinniss got very close to his query: enough for us to get a very intimate picture of, if not a narcissist as claimed, than a man who murdered his own family. And McGinniss is a good writer. I'm not a regular imbiber of true crime books, but this book has been in print since 1983 for good reasons: it's a compelling, completely engrossing well-written book.
  • (4/5)
    I decided to buy this book after I saw Errol Morris talking about his new book, A Wilderness of Error, on The Colbert Report. I remember seeing the TV miniseries in the early 80's with Gary Cole, and how my 8th grade language arts teacher bragged about knowing him (Gary Cole). Anyway, I wanted to get an overview before I read the new book, so I bought this one. It is a really fast read, and I thought it was good for a true crime book. I don't think the book was too biased against Jeffrey MacDonald if you read it with an open mind. There was some slant and personal opinion of the author, but I guess if you get sued over the book you wrote, you use the format you can to talk about it. I am not convinced that he placed his pajama top on his wife and then stabbed her. The presentation of that evidence was so contrived. Sure, it could be arranged that way, but if you see how it was done, it looks ridiculous. If the garment had one or two distinctive flat folds, I would have believed it, but it looked ruched. Anyway, I would recommend reading this book if you are interested in this crime and investigation, but I would also recommend getting the other viewpoint if you can. Looking forward to the Errol Morris book, and perhaps a different read on the evidence. -KAG
  • (5/5)
    This book covers the trial of Jeffrey McDonald, accused of the 1979 murder of his wife and two daughters. This was an incredibly sad case and a sad book. I give the story an A+!
  • (5/5)
    Fatal Vision is not quite the book Jeffrey MacDonald was hoping for when he contracted journalist Joe McGinniss to write his version of the events surrounding the murder of his young family in 1970. After living with the charismatic doctor during his high-profile murder trial, McGinniss turned in a forensically detailed and terribly unflattering portrait. MacDonald comes across as an ill-tempered, philandering narcissist who is, in all likelihood, a multiple murderer. The story, and the man, are bone-chilling.
  • (5/5)
    "Fatal Vision" chronicles the criminal case of Jeffrey McDonald. In 1970, McDonald's wife and two young daughters were brutally murdered in their home and McDonald, who sustained relatively minor injuries, claimed that a group of drug-crazed intruders committed the crime. The case went through many unusual twists and turns and was not resolved for over 10 years. It's a fascinating case, and Joe McGinnis does a deft job in documenting it. He has a sharp eye for detail and an engaging writing style. The book benefits also from McGinnis's rare level of access to both McDonald and the parties that fought to have him convicted. McGinnis's interactions with McDonald are particularly unique and included full access to McDonald and his defense team through the trial. "The Journalist and the Murderer" by Janet Malcolm presents an interesting look at the working relationship of McDonald and McGinnis. I also recommend Malcolm's book, but "Fatal Vision" should be read first to understand the context.
  • (5/5)
    Dr Jeffrey MacDonald presented to the world the face of a charming, sensitive man, but behind this mask was an individual who, from the time the murders were committed in 1970 until his final appeal was rejected in 1985, tried his utmost to avoid punishment for the horrific act. This story stands as a monument to the laudable persistence of MacDonald's parents-in-law, who refused to give up their crusade for justice until MacDonald was convicted, and the souls of his wife and children were finally at peace. It is also a tribute to the experts who by sheer talent and technology have advanced the field of forensic science to the degree where it is now viewed as indisputable evidence.
  • (5/5)
    I heard about this back in the 80's when the TV mini-series first aired. Afterwards, everybody and his neighbor had an opinion about whether or not Dr. Jeffery McDonald killed his wife and children. About 10 years later I came across this book at a sale. I devoured it. It of course was soooo much better than that TV movie. It is one of the best true crime novels I have ever read. Some people think that Joe McGinnis added and embelished on McDonalds story to make him look bad or worse given what you believe. That is pure non-sense The man was Hired by Jeffery McDonald himself to write the truth and that is what he did. But I highly recomend that you read this book yourself.
  • (5/5)
    Brilliant. One of the best true-crime stories ever written. It's a shame McGinniss's subsequent works haven't approached this standard.