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review 2016-09-15 06:30
the Trail of Ted Bundy: Digging Up the Untold Stories
The Trail of Ted Bundy: Digging Up the Untold Stories - Kevin M Sullivan

This is a reasonably interesting companion to Kevin's book, The Bundy Murders: a Comprehensive History. I love that book. It is far and away my favorite book about Bundy out there, with The Stranger Beside Me a a very close second. I mean, I have read the Bundy Murders at least ten times and as weird as this sounds, it has become something of a comfort read.


That said this volume is very short and while it does contain things that will be of interest to Bundy aficionados, in my opinion Kevin spends too much time quoting from the main book to give these snippets context. I imagine this would be helpful if you haven't read the first book or haven't read it in awhile, but I read it again like a month ago and didn't really need the help.


I also wish there was more in there about some of the lesser discussed victims, like Brenda Ball. I know virtually nothing about her. No one seems to ever try to delve in to her life. We hear the most about Georgann Hawkins, Denise Naslund, Janice Ott, Caryn Campbell, occasionally Susan Rancourt, Kathy Parks, and Donna Manson. Ultimately I care about these women and girls and I'd like to know more about them, not just about their destroyer. I remember reading somewhere that Margaret Bowman, one of the Chi Omega victims, loved the Secret Garden and was something of a seamstress; she'd been working on a green dress before she was murdered. I want these details.


That said, I understand in some cases details are simply not available. I don't think we'll ever know much about Denise Oliverson (kidnapped and murdered while on a bike ride) and we don't even know the identity of the hitchhiker he murdered, only to dump her body in the river. But as much attention as we give Bundy himself, we should pay all the attention we can to the people he killed.


In short if you love true crime and Bundy is your favorite case the way he is mine, you need to add this to your collection. Otherwise, if you know only a little about Bundy this book won't make much sense to you. Start with the Bundy Murders or the Stranger Beside Me. Second tier, The Only Living Witness (though I think both authors are supremely unlikable and they make several out of line digs at Ann Rule for no reason I can discern).

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review 2015-05-17 00:00
The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story
The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story - Ann Rule A friend of mine raved about this book. While I am not as awestruck as she is (when I told her I was reading it I swear she got moist in the eyes). I did enloy this book but at times I found myself annoyed by the writing style. This book simply put is a mediocre author with great knowledge and insider information. If this book hadn't been about such a notorious, well known serial killer I doubt anyone would ever have read it. The only reason I gave it three stars was that it did keep me entertained.
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review 2014-06-26 18:49
The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story - Ann Rule

Ever since I learned that there was such a thing as a true crime novel I have been interested in them. I have a strange relationship with true crime books and books about serial killers. I make myself read them and, because they scare the shit out of me, I don't read too many. They scare me more than any fictional novel ever will because the things that human beings actually do to each other will always be more horrific than what an author can come up with. Why? Because fiction is just a possibility and reality is what lives next door to you, reality is what you thought was a nice person who you had conversations with, reality is something that's so ugly and twisted on the inside but shows itself on the outside much less frequently than people hope.


I love reading about reality because it's a lesson but, oh man, it screws with me for months after I read it and I never forget it. Recently, I had the urge to delve into true crime again. Ann Rule is one of the best known in the business, and she's been doing it for years. I looked for her most popular book and The Stranger Beside Me popped up. This is her book about Ted Bundy, one of the most well known serial killers. Here's the twist though. Ted Bundy was Ann Rule's friend and coworker. Not only that but later on she also becomes his confidant while he's in prison. This makes the book so unique. I had to read it.


*Spoilers ahead (if it's possible to spoil a true crime novel...I don't know)*


Now, I haven't quite finished this book because I am reading it ridiculously slowly. This is not because it isn't engrossing. I'm reading slowly because this is the most afraid any book has ever made me. I have been reading this book for three weeks. That should tell you all something.


There are more than a few reasons why this book is so frightening. It's all about the content. Ann Rule chooses to give mostly facts, meaning she doesn't get flowery or let her writing overtake the horror that went on during the years Ted Bundy was free. What strikes me the most every time I think about Ted Bundy and what he did is the fact that the childhood Ann Rule writes of was pretty uneventful. There's nothing that makes a person think Bundy is going to grow up to be completely screwed in the head. It frightens me to think a parent could do what every other moderately good parent does and yet their child turns out so, so wrong. Seriously, seriously wrong for no discernable reason. How do you learn to avoid something like this happening again if you don't know the reason why it happened in the first place?


When Ted Bundy started his reign of murder, he started with break-ins. This was the early to mid seventies and security measures were not as much of a thing then. People locked their doors, yes, but there weren't fifty million deadbolts and twenty chains on people's doors. I get the feeling from reading this book that breaking into someone's apartment or house wasn't that hard back then. Ted Bundy took advantage of that. He violated young women's homes, the places that are supposed to be safe, and proved to the world and to the readers of this book that home is not as safe as we like to think it is. Bundy was also brutal. His first known victim was a young woman who lived in a basement apartment. He broke in and attacked her while she slept. This would actually become a pattern of Bundy's, attacking and killing women while they slept.


Let me make a note here on one of the things that freaks me out the most about many of Bundy's attacks and murders; they happened while the victims slept soundly in their own beds. Sleep is a human being's most vulnerable state. You have no knowledge of what's happeneing around you, and no ability to prepare for or fight off anything harmful. You're a sitting duck and there are some maniancally murderous and vicious hunters in this world. People, and it seems especially women because there's always that danger of rape for women, like to think that if you sleep with some kind of weapon near your bed you have a fighting chance. These are the things we tell ourselves and this book, where Ann Rule unflinchingly details Bundy's actions, says "There's a real chance you're going to die". Many of Bundy's victims never even woke up in time to fight back. They were left in the position in which they laid down to go to sleep. There was no skin or fibers under their nails, there were no defensive wounds or signs of struggle, and they never knew what happened to them.


This book made me wonder what would happen if someone broke into my apartment one day. I've always thought that I would hear a noise, be able to wake up in time to defend myself, put up a valiant fight. The first Bundy attack I read about in this book made me stop and I said out loud "Fuck. I might die". That is an absolutely horrifying realization and that was the first night Ann Rule robbed me of sleep.


Another thing that Ann Rule's account of Ted Bundy's murders brought to light was that the man was a damn ghost. Not in the sense that he was reclusive because he wasn't. He had friends, a girlfriend, jobs, he was living on the grid. No, Bundy was a ghost when he killed. No one saw him, and those who glimpsed him didn't really remember what he looked like, only that he wore a cast or a sling. That was one of his ruses; get the girl to help the poor injured man. He left almost no, and in most cases absolutely no, physical evidence. When he lured women away he did it in small spaces of time and within mere feet of someone having just seen that person, whole, healthy, and alive. The first time he's ever really seen is when he abducts two women in one day at Sammamish Lake. He had already killed and abducted multiple women at that point. Multiple women.


I could really go on for longer about the horrors in this book and I haven't even finished it yet. I'm going to stop now though because I think you guys get the idea. This is very weird to say, I think, but I suggest that every woman reads this book. When your daughters reach, 13 or 14, maybe tell them about this book or if you think they can handle it let them read it. Ann Rule says she wrote it so that women and girls will know what to look for, that this kind of evil is out there and that it might not look the way they expect it to. Telling a woman or girl what to watch out for is great but, let's face it, a lot will forget because no one likes to think violence is lurking around them. A lot will rationalize why they should help that injured guy, why getting so wasted that you maybe don't remember to lock your door is okay, why going home with this guy you just met at the bar is safe because what are the chances really, why they should just let it slide when a roommate maybe brings home strangers, the list goes on and on. I've made those mistakes and I think most women have. Not because they're not smart or at any fault if they become a victim, but because no one wants to see themselves as a potential victim. This book really brings home the point that NO woman should rationalize anything that would put her in danger. It brings home the point that a person should do everything they can to be safe because even when you think you're safe you STILL might not be.


What this book said to me was "Don't leave a door open that lets that monster in. If he wants to come in make him work for it because while the monster is working, you just might have the time to slay him."

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review 2014-06-03 04:53
Changling Troll Nightmare
The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer - William J. Birnes,Robert D. Keppel,Gary Leon Ridgway,Ann Rule

I thought it was a good book. A good addition to the Canon on Ted Bundy. A study on the scariest serial killer ever who had NO inhibitions about going into a young coeds room filled with roommates and steal her from her bed fate whacking her in the head... carrying her out the front door wrapped in her sheet with no one in the house noticing or hearing a thing. That is supremely horrifying. his thoughts on his "river man" says a lot about serial killers & Bundy himself even if he wasn't aware of it. He admits to his slayings as himself doing itfor the first time, maybe really only time inrint in person to this police detective.


I think the highlight of this book is Ted Bundy's conversations.  "Insights" if you will.  Truthfully the most compelling interesting parts are on Ted's own talks to Keppel.  Don't get me wrong, as a True Crime reader it was incredibly fascinating to read the story from his point of view.  Then delve into the "Riverman".  But certainly the most compelling figure are the words, thoughts, and what not of the most terrifying changling troll to have existed from my father's generation.  This man, single handedly is a horror story of unbelievable proportions.  The reason I read so much on him is the brazen abuctions.  The charm it had to have taken to take women feet from others.  In Linda Healy's case, he stole her out of her room.  Where we are supposed to be the safest and snuggest.  She wasn't living alone, no there were many roommates.  In fact one slept in the room nextdoor with a very thin partrition. Yet he had the nerve to do what he did.  And even more amazing no one noticed a thing.  The other is GeorgeAnn Hawkins on outside of her house just talking to a male friend in the U district!  Anyone could have at the right moment stole a look out a window on that fateful party night. Or passed by.  Yet he was able to carry her off too! His signature was the horrific daring he employed in the capture of his victims.  He seemed to enjoy pulling off what should have been impossible crimes.  He carried out plenty of crimes that were opportunistic on people like hitchhikers but one senses he carried an extra thrill from pulling off what should have had him caught by eyewitness (and in the end, his arrogance did just that at his double murder at Lake Sam).  Each victim was trolled by a callous predator playing a game of life and death built on the fantasy in his head.  The astonishing part was he pulled these off brazenly till 20, 30, MORE?---young women were dead.  He is a horror story who makes you look twice at anybody who needs help. Makes you double check your windows and locks. The reason why Ted Bundy is probably the Jack the Ripper of our age is purely because of the evil cunning employed.  There wasn't any mystery in the end.  We got the horrible monster.  Yet what he did was horrible.  And then HOW he did it somehow even exceeded sensible thinking.  Really, in a way of reverse psychology maybe that is how he pulled it off.  Surely no creep would try something in such places, right?  Wrong.  Ted Bundy was diaobical enough to do just that.  As a holder of a Bachelor's degree in Psychology he was in some ways insightful to himself.  But it did in the most twisted way make him even more insightful to those creatures like him.  Yes, he could see himself as a Hannibal Lector Erudite. But the truth was, his only accomplishments were in despicable feats of human destruction.  The only people who could appreciate him on that level in his own mind were below him.  A man who could have so many things but decided to destroy lives in schemes a movie script or book would be rejected for (before his existence was known) would be thrown out.  THAT is what makes him unique.  And for all the wrong, disgusting reasons when you contrast it with the what he could have done with his keen intellect and all consuming ambition if it hadn't be entirely focused on murdering young beautiful girls.  Even little girls... his youngest victim was indeed I believe 12 in Floridia but I could be off.

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review 2013-05-25 00:00
Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam - Gordon M. Goldstein Interview with Joe Biden in the Rolling Stone.

Considering how busy you are, do you have time to read books? If so, which ones would you recommend?

I make the time because it's important. Let's see. There is a good book titled The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard, about Teddy Roosevelt's exploration of the Amazon in Brazil. I knew nothing about this. My goodness, let's see. There's Mr. Putin, by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy. Insightful. He's an interesting man. Anyone who's traveled with me to Afghanistan knows why I love this book: War, by Sebastian Junger. And that reminds me of another book, Lessons in Disaster, by Gordon Goldstein. There's a great line in there where LBJ turns to [National Security Adviser] McGeorge Bundy and says, "How can we win this war in Vietnam?" And Bundy says something like, "Sir, we don't know how to win the war, but we know how not to lose it."

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Vice President Joe Biden

I have to say first and foremost isn’t it nice to have people back in the White House that READ? I can’t tell you how tired I became of the previous administration almost bragging about the fact that they didn’t read. It is hard enough to get kids to give reading a chance without the President of the United States implying that reading is not necessary to be successful. Not all of us are born with a silver spoon. My life without reading...well...I shudder to think where I would be today.

Anyway I just finished The River of Doubt My The River of Doubt Review last week and now Lessons in Disaster this week. It is kind of interesting for me to see what books are influencing our Vice President. I might even dip a toe into the Mr. Putin book.

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President John F. Kennedy and McGeorge Bundy

McGeorge Bundy was a member of the Kennedy team that David Halberstam so famously called The Best and the Brightest in the book of the same title. It also defined Bundy for a generation as the very personification of the hubris and arrogance of America’s tragic encounter in Vietnam.” I don’t disagree with the arrogance and the hubris, Bundy was an overachiever, a successful academician and an advisor to two presidents who were as different as two people can possibly be. Their view of Vietnam were shaped by different characteristics. ”Kennedy didn’t want to be dumb. Johnson didn’t want to be a coward.”

I’ll take the guy who doesn’t want to be dumb every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Gordon Goldstein was working with Bundy to put together his grand opus of Vietnam, unfortunately the book was never completed because Bundy died from a massive heart attack before the work advanced very far. This book is the result of the research the author did in preparation for the Bundy book mixed with some views of events that Bundy shared with him during several meetings. The fingerprints of an academic who fears being challenged on his conclusions is evident throughout the text. It is heavy on carefully worded facts, but there is gold in them thar mounds of information.

One of the most heavily debated points for me with my more astute political friends is whether Kennedy would have escalated and “Americanized” (I really loathe that word.) Vietnam. Bundy says: ”Had Kennedy lived, there would have been no Vietnam War as we know it; and with Johnson in the White House, it was(in combination with Hanoi’s total intransigence) destined to unfold like the tragedy it became.” Bundy supports this further with a conversation that he had with Kennedy where he pushed the resolve of the president. ”Within five years we’ll have three hundred thousand men in the paddies and jungles and never find them again. That was the French experience...To my surprise, the President seemed quite unwilling to discuss the matter, responding with an overtone of asperity: ‘George you’re crazier than hell. That just isn’t going to happen.’”

We can’t know for sure as the events unfolded in Vietnam what Kennedy would have done about the situation. He did not subscribe to the Domino Theory that was circulating among his more Hawkish advisors. They tried to scare him with the theory that Vietnam was the first domino and when it fell so would all the other Asian countries one by one to communism. Kennedy listened to advice, but we have a few incidents that happened in his short presidency that may give us an idea that at least whatever he decided it would be his decision.

The Bay of Pigs concept was inherited from his predecessor Dwight D. Eisenhower. The CIA was determined to pull off this coup attempt to oust Fidel Castro. They weren’t getting the answers they wanted from Kennedy. They decided that with the prospect of taking a battering in the press that the President would come into line with the plan and provide the air support they knew they needed to even have a chance of success. Kennedy explicitly said that he would not provide U.S. air support. When the frantic calls came that air support was needed Kennedy held firm. Bay of Pigs was a debacle, but it was a CIA debacle. They assured the President that the population would join up with the invading force and take back their country. We know how it turned out.

photo 5a6624e5-e2d3-47af-bb22-c7ca473df999_zps76e7e3f4.jpg

The Cuban Missile Crisis, without a doubt, was Kennedy’s finest hour. Bundy’s advice was that we bomb the Nuclear Missile site which would have, of course, launched World War Three. The Russians installed the missiles as a deterrent to future invasions of Cuba. Kennedy decided to bluff, an audacious decision, by installing a blockade referred to as a quarantine. Thus began 13 days of HELL. My father remembers that time vividly and said in the whole time he has been alive this was the moment when he thought the world was going to end. Nikita Khrushchev, thinking this young untested leader would fold, was surprised that beneath that handsome face was an unexpected resolve.

Khrushchev blinked.

To allow Khrushchev to save face, Kennedy did make a secret deal to remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey if Khrushchev removed the missiles from Cuba.

photo Kennedyhandshake_zpsff281e6b.jpg
Put ‘er there you old so and so. Notice Khrushchev can’t even bear to look at all that hair.

The world became a slightly safer place.

Given the way Kennedy handled those two critical incidences one thing we can be sure of he wouldn’t be pushed into anything he didn’t want to do.

Lyndon Johnson on the other hand was more worried about being seen as weak than he was about even being able to win a war. Bundy issued what is referred to as the “Fork in the Road” memo in 1964 which was designed to lay out American strategic options. Johnson’s response: “I don’t know what to do. If I take them out, there’s going to be more killin’. Anything I do, there’s going to more killin’. And he never put a ‘g’ on the ‘killin’’, it was Texas ‘killin’’. Then he got up and walked out of the room, leaving us in a somewhat shattered state.” Johnson elected to escalate U.S. involvement in Vietnam leaving a generation disillusioned with political leaders and veterans unsure why they sacrificed so much for so little.

photo BundyampJohnson_zpse0d919cc.jpg
McGeorge Bundy with President Lyndon Johnson

I came away from reading this book with more respect for Kennedy and more sympathy for Johnson. Johnson believed in his “Great Society” and was willing to make deals even war deals to achieve those ideals. The Vietnam war was a conflict that you would think would keep us out of future struggles that we know going in that we can’t win, keep us from enacting regime changes that never seem to work, and insure that when we do go in to help settle a conflict that we have an exit strategy. Maybe the Iraq war could have been avoided if only a President had read a little history.

”We must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscient,” Kennedy declared, “that we are only six percent of the world’s population, that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent, that we cannot fight every wrong or reverse each adversity, and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.”

If you would like to read more of the Joe Biden interview in Rolling Stone. Here is a link: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/joe-biden-the-rolling-stone-interview-20130509
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