Thursday, February 13, 2014

From Book Review to Plagiarism to Sex Offender

This post was supposed to be called: Book Review - The Manson Family "Then and Now", by David Pietras

As someone obviously interested in the "then and now" aspect of the Manson Family, the title of this "book" piqued my interest a little bit, even though the description on Alibris was fraught with inaccuracies, misspellings and poor grammar.

After reading this, in likely slightly less time than I think Pietras spent writing it, my only question was what did Pietras do with the rest of his day? I was still unaware of what else I was about to discover or how prophetic that thought was.

You know, it's not that often that you get to bust a bad guy, but when you get to bust a REALLY bad guy you can't pass up the opportunity.

This really isn't a book. It felt more like a report a kid might have turned in in the 8th grade - you know, the one he started after dinner the night before it was due and plagiarized the daylights out of and taped in a bunch of pictures to fill up space, then took an old report out of its clear plastic cover (like these in the picture) so he could recycle it? The teacher could always tell the kid didn't write it because it was too good. My memories of those "research projects" - those of the prepubescent kids in the library copying directly from the encyclopedia - would serve me well in this case. The reasons will become clear in a moment.

Pietras quoted extensively from other books such as Helter Skelter, The Garbage People and even leaned on Nuel Emmons a bit. It felt familiar. The book is also filled with photos, all of which we have seen before and take up even more page space than the quotes from other resources. I thought to myself that if you were to remove the quoted text from other authors and the pictures, I think this would not be a book any longer, it would be an article. A well written article, but not a book. Something kept gnawing at me as I read it, I just didn't know what.

So, getting back to what compelled me to push the buy button on Alibris, the last third of the book is called "Where Are They Now?" As someone who loves the connection of the 1960's Manson Family to the 60-year-olds that they are now - the ones you might bump into at the mall, I just couldn't resist. This section begins by saying "Manson endures, even as a sixty-year old". Now, even the most novice among us knows Charles Manson is 79 years old. That sentence bothered me, so I googled it. Guess what? It is a plagiarized line. It comes from a really good article called "Charles Manson and the Manson Family" by Marilyn Bardsley. Most of us have read this at one time or another HERE in the Crime Library. So I skimmed Bardsley's article (I'm snowed in, so I had time to kill). Guess what? It was ALL plagiarized from Bardsley! Not leaned heavily on, not paraphrased - totally fucking plagiarized. In many cases he even uses the same photos Bardsley used in the same parts of her article as illustrations. Nowhere in this book was Bardsley even credited! So, I've read 2/3 of this thing only to find out that he completely plagiarized everything I've read so far.

Not to be deterred, I trudged on, only immediately to find that the next three chapters were copied word for word from Manson's Wikipedia page. I kid you not. Directly from Wikipedia!

He then reproduced a portion of the recent Rolling Stone article to address the Star saga, but at least he cites Rolling Stone.

Then when he turned the "where are they now" subject to Lynette Fromme, he went back to directly plagiarizing Bardsley - word for word. Then returns to copying and pasting from Wikipedia to talk about what has become of Tex, Sadie, Clem and so on. Pietras didn't write any portion of this book. None of it. He copied everything directly from Bardsley and Wikipedia.

I think it would be fair to guess that this book does not get an endorsement. In fact, if Marilyn Bardsley were to get wind of this, Pietras might find himself being sued. Luckily it only set me back six bucks on a used copy.


But screw the book. Upon investigating this a little bit more, our crack team has compared his Wix page that he proudly displays in the masthead of his "book":

...with the Florida sex offender registry:

Oh SNAP! It's the same guy!

Oh, he's a sex offender in NY too:

I wonder if his Parole Officer knows about the plagiarism? I'm guessing this is not going to be his biggest problem going forward. This turned out to be a worthwhile six dollars, don't you think?