Trial By Your Peers by William Zamora

Trial By Your Peers

By William Zamora

When William Zamora reported for jury duty, he had no idea that he was about to become part of one of America’s most famous murder trials. But it wasn’t long before he realized the significance, and started taking notes for a book. Trial By Your Peers, which was re-released under the title Blood Family, is the behind the scenes soap opera of the Manson jury, during their 9-½ months together. I’ve read better books.

Pages: 483

Publisher: Maurice Girodias Associates; First edition (1973)

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One Response to Trial By Your Peers by William Zamora

  1. Fred Bloggs says:

    I don’t think I’ve come across a good review of this book. Which I find baffling because for me, it is one of the premier tomes connected with the case. One of the things that makes it so fascinating is that Zamora actually comes across as unbiased. The jury in this case has had so much flak and criticism from those on both sides of the fence, but although many of their foibles are aired in public by Zamora {himself included} at no point do I get the impression that the jury was biased or an unthinking bunch of ding~a~lings, such as Paul Fitzgerald described jurors. While it has been so easy for Manson and others to say that they got convicted because Nixon declared Manson guilty, no one seems to stop and consider that there just might be some on the jury that didn’t like Nixon or that didn’t give a damn what he thought.
    Zamora helps set that record straight.
    The one irritation of this book is the style in which it’s laid out ~ there are no chapters so it unfolds as one continuous piece for over 400 pages. I spent a couple of hours breaking it up into recognizable segments which has made it easy for me to reference. Well, easier !
    There are also many typos and errors such as Zamora referring to Daye Shinn as Dave Shinn ! But these are understandable given that he was relying on what he could hear.
    And it’s what he could hear that proves so enthralling. There is, like George Bishop’s “Witness to evil,” a lot of trial testimony. What I found fascinating while reading it was just how much of the testimony ended up in “Helter Skelter” yet Zamora’s book precedes it by a year. Also, Zamora expands on much of the testimony given in his book while Bugliosi’s book cuts quite a bit out. The result is that if you’ve read “Helter Skelter” first, reading Zamora’s book will give you a totally different bearing on certain matters. For the better, I’d say.
    The actual life among the jury does have a limited interest and the point of view of a juror was a eye opening angle with which to approach the topic of Charles Manson and the Tate~LaBianca murders. But to be honest, I’m less interested in the jury’s squabbles and laughter {all their names are changed} and more in how the principal characters of TLB interact within the saga.
    The book unfortunately stiffed and came out later under the lame title of “Blood Family” but in my opinion, one ignores this book at one’s peril.
    Included in the book are the entirety of the 78 point document that Judge Older gave the jury to help them with their deliberations. It includes a superb explanation of “conspiracy” and enables one to understand with some clarity exactly why Charles Manson was found guilty of the murders, including the Hinman & Shea murders. You have to put it together though.

    It’s time this book was given it’s proper place in the pantheon of Manson case books.

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