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Fatal Vision ()


One might think that the story of Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald,  who slaughtered his pregnant wife and two children of five and two, and tried (successfully for a while) to make it look like a Manson family-type slaying, would be sufficiently compelling.  After all, MacDonald was a well-liked Green Beret, so unlikely a killer that there are still today folks who proclaim his innocence. Plus, the eventual impetus to prosecute him came mainly from his father-in-law, Freddy Kassab, who went from being an initial supporter to a justice-obsessed modern Javert.  But no, even that does not end the matter, for this is also the case that produced Janet Malcolm's outstanding book The Journalist and the Murderer, in which she explored the treacherous relationship between MacDonald and Joe McGinniss, the author he hand picked to tell his side of the story.

As things turned out, of course, McGinniss instead decided that MacDonald was guilty--although when exactly in the process he made this determination remains a subject of controversy--and just buried him in this book, after being given extraordinary access to the accused and his lawyers through every step of the case.  As one would expect, Mr. McGinniss is able to use his insider information to devastating effect, though his actions do cast some doubt on at least his methods and his character--doubts which Ms Malcolm explores in full.  So, while Fatal Vision still makes for great reading, and MacDonald is unquestionably guilty, the book should really be read only in conjunction with Ms Malcolm's expose.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B-)

  

Websites:

See also:

True Crime
Book-related and General Links:
    -ESSAY : My Critic's Cloudy Vision  (Joe McGinniss, April 3, 1989, NY Times)
    -EDITORIAL : Journalists - And Con Artists (NY Times, March 19, 1989)
    -REVIEW : of THE KENNEDY IMPRISONMENT A Meditation on Power. By Garry Wills (Joe McGinniss, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THESE GOOD MEN : Friendships Forged From War.  By Michael Norman (Joe McGinniss, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of WIRED : The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi. By Bob Woodward (Joe McGinniss, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of INVASIVE PROCEDURES, A Year in the World of Two Surgeons. By Mark Kramer (Joe McGinniss, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of 101 THINGS TO DO WITH A BABY Written and illustrated by Jan Ormerod (Joe McGinniss, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW : with Joe McGinniss (Jeff Merron, June 1999, SportsJones)
    -ARTICLE : 'Fatal Vision' Lawsuit Ends in a Mistrial (AP LOS ANGELES,  August 22, 1987)
    -ARTICLE : McGinniss Book Revised to Add Rebuttal (JEREMY GERARD, NY Times, July 18, 1989)
    -ESSAY : Malcolm vs. McGinniss (Edwin McDowell, NY Times, August 23, 1989)
    -ARTICLE : Book on Murder Stirs Debate About Limits of Nonfiction (ALLAN WOLPER, NY Times, February 19, 1989)
    -ARTICLE : It's Not Us, Toms River Says of Protrayal in Book (WAYNE KING, The New York Times March 29, 1989)
    -ARTICLE : For Joe McGinniss, Another Grisly Killing Means Another Book (ALESSANDRA STANLEY, NY Times, October 1, 1991)
    -ARTICLE : From McGinniss's Side, A Strike at Manchester (SARAH LYALL, NY Times, July 24, 1993)
    -ESSAY : Book Notes; 265,000 Printed, Very Few Sold  (SARAH LYALL, NY Times, August 4, 1993)
    -ESSAY :  Critic's Notebook; Is It Fiction? Is It Nonfiction? And Why Doesn't Anyone Care? (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times,July 27, 1993)
    -ARTICLE : McGinniss Publisher Removes Disclaimer (SARAH LYALL, NY Times, June 29, 1993)
    -ESSAY : McGinniss vs. Little, Brown: Publisher avoids the "s" word (CRAIG OFFMAN, Salon)
    -ARCHIVES : "joe mcginniss" (NY Review of Books)
    -ARCHIVES : "joe mcginniss" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW : of FATAL VISION. By Joe McGinniss (1983) (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT , NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of FATAL VISION By Joe McGinniss (Joan Barthel, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Blind Faith By Joe McGinniss (1989)  (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT , NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of BLIND FAITH By Joe McGinniss (Ann Rice, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of CRUEL DOUBT By Joe McGinniss (1991) (Frederick Busch, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE LAST BROTHER By Joe McGinniss (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT , NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of THE LAST BROTHER By Joe McGinniss (1993) (Francis X. Clines, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE MIRACLE OF CASTEL DI SANGRO By Joe McGinniss (Bill Barich, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Miracle of Castel di Sangro by Joe McGinniss (Rick Gekoski, booksonline uk)
    -REVIEW : of The Miracle of Castel di Sangro (Craig Offman, Salon)

JEFFERY MacDONALD :
    -The Jeffrey MacDonald Defense Team
    -LEGAL CASE : United States of America v. Jeffrey R. MacDonald (Silverglate & Good)
    -Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald (John Boston, Crime Library)
    -BOOK SITE : Fatal Justice:Reinvestigating the MacDonald Murders
    -LINKS :  Jeffrey MacDonald: The Green Beret Murder Trial (Legal Studies Forum)
    -REVIEW : of FATAL JUSTICE Reinvestigating the MacDonald Murders. By Jerry Allen Potter and Fred Bost (1995) ( Joe Sharkey, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of FATAL JUSTICE :  Reinvestigating the MacDonald Murders  By Jerry Allen Potter and Fred Bost (TARA ARONSON, SF Chronicle)

Comments:

Fatal Vision is a sincerely well written book, it kept me on the edge of my seat. I am a college student studying in criminal justice and this book was assigned, but it most definately does not read like an assigned novel!

- Vanessa Miller

- Sep-02-2004, 20:06

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