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We have called him a devil and quarantined him behind such labels as "the most dangerous man alive." But Charles Manson remains a shocking reminder of our own humanity gone awry. This astonishing book lays bare the life and the mind of a man whose acts have left us horrified. His story provides an enormous amount of new information about his life and how it led to the Tate-LaBianca murders, and reminds us of the complexity of the human condition. Born in the middle of the Depression to an unmarried fifteen-year-old, Manson lived through a bewildering succession of changing homes and substitute parents, until his mother finally asked the state authorities to assume his care when he was twelve. Regimented and often brutalized in juvenile homes, Manson became immersed in a life of petty theft, pimping, jail terms, and court appearances that culminated in seven years of prison. Released in 1967, he suddenly found himself in the world of hippies and flower children, a world that not only accepted him, but even glorified his anti-establishment values. It was a combination that led, for reasons only Charles Manson can fully explain, to tragedy. Manson's story, distilled from seven years of interviews and examinations of his correspondence, provides sobering insight into the making of a criminal mind, and a fascinating picture of the last years of the sixties. No one who wants to understand that time, and the man who helped to bring it to a horrifying conclusion, can miss reading this book.
Convicted killer Charles Manson blames media hype and disgruntled disciples for the widespread belief that he is a satanic pied piper whose minions were driven by his bizarre racist theories and LSD to commit mass murder. Self-pity, hate, evasiveness, self-analysis and anger are intertwined in this as-told-to autobiography. Manson relates the beatings and abuse he suffered as a youth in and out of prisons and foster homes. He describes his highs, on and off drugs, recounts orgies that he and fellow cult members had and reenacts the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969 and their legal aftermaths. Emmons, who himself served two prison terms (in 195657 and 196064), met Manson in jail. Assembled from letters and taped interviews conducted since 1979, this portrait adds little to the record while exploiting the case's sensationalism. It also leaves unanswered many questions, one of which is: What portion of these highly articulate transcripts are Manson's own words, and to what extent were they edited or polished? Photos not seen by PW.