After more than forty years, Charles Manson continues to mystify and fascinate us. One of the most notorious criminals in American history, Manson and members of his mostly female commune killed nine people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. Now, drawing on new information, bestselling author Jeff Guinn tells the definitive story of how this ordinary delinquent became a murderer.
Mansonhelps us understand what obsessed him and, most terrifying of all, how he managed to persuade others to kill. Guinn interviewed Manson's sister and cousin, neither of whom has ever previously cooperated with an author. Childhood friends, cellmates, and even some members of the Manson Family have provided new information about Manson's life. Guinn has made discoveries about the night of the Tate murders, answering unresolved questions, such as why one person on the property was spared. There are even photographs of Manson's childhood and youth that have never previouslybeen seen outside private family albums.
Putting Manson in the context of his times, the turbulent end of the Sixties, Guinn shows how Manson represented the dark side of a generation. He came to Los Angeles hoping to get a recording contract, and the murders were directly related to his musical ambitions, although he cloaked them in a bizarre race-war theory. He was, in the words of one person who knew him, just like many other rock star wannabes-except that he was a killer.
The notorious mastermind of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders emerges as an all-American ghoul in this riveting biography. Journalist Guinn (Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde) tells how an ex-con distilled California's effervescing counterculture into the Manson Family freak show, recruiting a following of rootless teen waifs who worshipped him as Jesus Christ and did his bidding without question, whether in LSD-fueled orgies or killing sprees. The author's richly detailed but well-paced narrative fleshes out the demented logic behind the crimes: prompted by misfired drug deals, Manson conceived new murders in order to deflect attention from his involvement in previous crimes and to instigate the "apocalyptic race war" he had prophesied to his followers. But Guinn, who unearths eerie photos of his subject as a clean-cut bridegroom, teases apart the twisted strands of normalcy in Manson's sociopathic charisma, which honed itself on fundamentalist Christianity, Dale Carnegie precepts, and starry-eyed self-promotion. (Manson's main goal, which brought him into the orbit of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, was to score a record deal.) Guinn's portrait is an absorbing true crime saga and a searching exploration of the anomie, broken homes, and crazed hopes that led lost souls to mistake Manson for the answer to their prayers. 16 pages of b&w photos.