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Summary

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.

Best-selling author Joe McGinniss chronicles every aspect of this horrifying and intricate crime and probes the life and psyche 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. It is a haunting, stunningly suspenseful work that no listener will be able to forget. 

©2012 Joe McGinniss (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about Fatal Vision

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Excellent book and narrating.

3rd time reading it! Joe shows McDonald as the manipulative murderer he is. Great book.

3 people found this helpful

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Joe McGinnis is a good man...and thorough.

I was gripped from the beginning, I'd actually never heard of the Jeffrey Macdonald case and had to stop myself googling anything about it whilst listening to the audio book.

I almost got bored for a lot of the legal talk but you can't say Mcginniss left out anything of any significance in editing.

I recently read (and loved) The Miracle of Castel di Sangro by Joe Mcginniss so I had to check out his other releases, this being an altogether different affair but of no lessing in quality.

highly recommended.

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Great audiobook...

For those who still doubt his guilt this audiobook is a must-read. Incredibly detailed, well formatted and jaw dropping. His personality is that of any other narcissist - following to the letter the same pattern of grandiosity - ‘I’m the smartest guy in the room’, ‘everyone else is stupid’ and ‘everyone will believe oh-so-amazing-me because it’s oh-so-amazing-me telling my version of events.’ ‘How dare anyone not?’ Puts me in mind of Ted Bundy who denied, denied, denied and only confessed when his life was on the line. I don’t think he ever would have otherwise. This man will never confess.

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work of great depth

This is a long, absorbing and deeply researched book with twists and turns that are barely credible but patently, are reality.

I can only admire the effort and work that has gone into composing this tale of family, ambition and murder.

I won't give anything away, I will only say if you have an interest in true crime... this is a must read and fabulous value for money.

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Gripping

Phenomenal story, it’s long but it will keep your attention. Fantastically written and read. Loved it.

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One of the best true crime books on Audible, maybe even the best

A brilliant piece of journalism and writing, brilliantly narrated. The twists and turns keep happening. Highly recommend.

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Absolutely brilliant

Absolutely brilliant!!!! Could not put this book down. Loved every second of it. He is as guilty as the day is long

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Fascinating

Excellent reporting of events, great narrative and narators. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Will look for this author's work again.

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Gripping

Simply the best book of its type... couldnt fault it...kept your interest throughout..excellent!

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The True Crime Classic You Must Listen To

Where does Fatal Vision rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the category of true crime this is my favourite

Who was your favorite character and why?

I’m not sure that question is appropriate considering the material involved. All participants are observed with great insight and portrayed in an intelligent and thought provoking way.

What about Fred Sanders’s performance did you like?

Excellent, his voice has the gravitas necessary for the story.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Always, I read it years ago and it resonance continues, however, for me the psychological aspects and analysis of the people involved are the really stunning aspects of this work. If only McGinnis were still alive and could use his skills to write a biography on Trump.

Any additional comments?

It has to be one of the true crime classic of all time. It’s up there with In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter. Controversial in its time for reasons explained in the last chapter, its an awesome work. The story of how a doctor and Green Beret soldier was found guilty of the horrific murder of his wife and children. It is intense in detail maybe too detailed for some, but that is to my liking. The portrayal of Jeffrey MacDonald and his rather subtle narcissistic personality traits is both fascinating and relevant. These are the days before DNA and it’s a very circumstantial case, however, the real forensic search occurs outside of the courtroom in the dissection of personality, status, excpectations, interpretations and the investigation centres on not only how this most brutal of crimes took place but more interestingly why.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Thornton Mellon
  • 12-07-18

Forget the Abridged Version of Any Book

I've listened to the version done with Christopher Reeve several times while traveling. it's abridged to almost 3 hours. I then purchased the unabridged version. I can only say that a true crime novel needs never to be abridged. the amount of details within the first two hours of this book was astonishing. It puts a whole new light compared to the abridged version. You will not be disappointed and you will come back with a different perspective.
With that being said this is a sad, horrible story of deceit, ego, innocence and the death of the innocent. This version tells the whole story.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Elaine
  • 30-11-19

Narcissistic psychopath

I read the book back in the 1980s when the book first came out and was from then on interested in true crime stories. McGinnis does an excellent job of providing both sides of the story but in the end there’s only one person that knows what happened on February 17, 1970 -Jeffrey MacDonald- and he will never admit to murdering his five months pregnant wife and two very young daughters. The psychiatric evaluations, the family and friends who told such wonderful stories about the all American boy, the trials, and Jeffrey MacDonald talking about himself incessantly while never seeming to truly mourn the deaths by murder of his wife and children, all contributed to my conclusion that MacDonald was not what he presented himself to be and that he’s a killer. Read it, or listen to it on audible as I did, you won’t regret it. Ranks up there with Helter Skelter, In Cold Blood, The Onion Field, and The Stranger Beside Me as one of the best true crime books.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 13-05-18

Superb

The best True Crime novel outside of Jack Olsen. I will immediately check for anything else by this author.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Surprised
  • 19-04-18

Well Written & Great Details!

It's a tragedy that this was a real case but it's a great read. The story is not slow at all. This case was a rollercoaster ride and the author managed to be detailed while getting to the point. I loved it and would totally read it again.

11 people found this helpful

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  • norma
  • 11-08-18

Great to the last sentence.

Excellent insight into Jeff's real life. Not just the life and personality he wanted people to see, but the real person. I felt like I lived next door to these people. They weren't just headlines and a tv movie. This book is as close to a real life look into a the true and actual account of what really happened. For 27 hours there was never a dull or uninteresting moment. I had seen the movie, saw interviews on tv and other documentation about the killings. But this book is so powerful and real, you can see and hear the events as they unfold.

6 people found this helpful

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  • andrew
  • 15-05-19

Boring Narrator

I read this book many moons ago and thought I'd download it to listen while driving. I was at a real risk of falling asleep as the narrator is so dry.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mommbee
  • 07-05-21

The Best True Crime Book Ever

Joe McGinniss has written a book with the recognizability along side In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter. As an author who became an integral part of the history of the case itself, his legacy should be one of appreciation for his integrity and honesty.

4 people found this helpful

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  • BVerité
  • 08-12-20

A classic that lives and breathes in 2020

This is my second time listening to Fatal Vision. I don’t remember how I felt first time through, but this book is outstanding. One of the very best True Crime books ever written. Hands down. It’s incredibly well told and fascinating. This writer got to know the defendant extremely well while writing, and he wanted to find the defendant innocent, but the evidence did it’s job and proved he was completely guilty. It tells so much about the defendant that McDonald speaks for himself. He has so many insane thought processes about women, their looks, comparing them to each other, and finally writing a contract to have “two Boys” with his fiancée.
In other words, McDonald (defendant) didn’t want the girls in his life. He didn’t know how to behave. He states multiple times that “He’s glad they are gone”. It was a relief to him. Imagine that??! He is a narcissistic psycho with feminine attributes and major issues with his Masculinity.
The story about defendant and and young boy going on vacation together with the mother is terrifying. It shows just how weird and creepy he is. And how he would discipline his own boys, if he had them.
I pleased with the ending. And very interested in the relationship btw Defendant and author.

4 people found this helpful

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  • debbie
  • 16-07-21

Excellent

This book has always been in my top 10 list of books, not just the story but because of McGinnis' writing and impressive self examination and self insight at the end. This book was one that began a journey for me of trying to understand personality disordered people (my parents). It was also this book that answers the question we all grapple with the most about the cluster B disorder individuals, whether McGinnis realized he uncovered the answer or not----does the narcissist believe their own lies? McGinnis mightily digs at that question, hoping like so many that the answer is yes, because if it is, then perhaps we can sympathize with them, perhaps we don't have to experience the horror of facing calculating purposeful evil. But McDonald miserably failed more than one polygraph test. He knew he was lying, just like all of us know when we are lying. And we now know also that the sociopath who passes a polygraph also knows they are lying, but their justification system is so developed that they don't feel guilt or the fear of being exposed.
This book is one of THE most masterful portrayals of sociopathy I've encountered. McGinnis doesn't have to tell you that McDonald is a narcissist\sociopath. He lets McDonald show you that himself. And McGinnis has been proven correct---McDonald STILL refused to admit guilt, STILL is only interested in his facade. Given enough time, the mask becomes the face itself. There's not much behind that mask, except grossly immature selfish rage. This book allows more than a glimpse into that perspective. The writing is absolutely masterful, because it's not easy to chronicle the personality disordered, especially when they unravel to the point of violence. There is so much drama, so many tentacles, so much obfuscation, so much smoke and mirrors.
I admire McGinnis dedication to the truth, and that this value was so strong for him that he was able to keep his eye on that, and not fall prey to the glib insistence of the narcissist, who wants you to believe what they say, not what you see with your own eyes.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff
  • 07-05-21

Loved it!

I’m a true crime fiend and this book completely took me over. Such an in-depth and ridiculously thorough investigation and telling of this story from multiple angles. I started my days with it and ended my days with it - feeling a fly on the wall in the lives of those involved. I cannot imagine what such an account must do to an author emotionally and I’m truly impressed with his complete commitment. The 27 hours was what it took and I gladly accepted it. I am impressed and now a bit confused as to what will now take up so much time during my day! Ha. Bravo Joe! Bravo.

3 people found this helpful