The New York Times bestselling, authoritative account of the life of Charles Manson, filled with surprising new information and previously unpublished photographs: “A riveting, almost Dickensian narrative…four stars” (People).
More than forty years ago Charles Manson and his mostly female commune killed nine people, among them the pregnant actress Sharon Tate. It was the culmination of a criminal career that author Jeff Guinn traces back to Manson’s childhood. Guinn interviewed Manson’s sister and cousin, neither of whom had 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 near the scene of the crime was spared.
Manson puts the killer in the context of the turbulent late sixties, an era of race riots and street protests when authority in all its forms was under siege. Guinn shows us how Manson created and refined his message to fit the times, persuading confused young women (and a few men) that he had the solutions to their problems. At the same time he used them to pursue his long-standing musical ambitions. His frustrated ambitions, combined with his bizarre race-war obsession, would have lethal consequences.
Guinn’s book is a “tour de force of a biography…Manson stands as a definitive work: important for students of criminology, human behavior, popular culture, music, psychopathology, and sociopathology…and compulsively readable” (Ann Rule, The New York Times Book Review).
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Very interesting. Although I knew most of the story from reading Helter Skelter, there were many interesting items from Manson's earlier years that were new to me. The book was well researched and delivered in a way that was easily readable. The author told the story of Manson, wayward young people, drugs, the 60s and how it's mixture enabled a man like Manson to not only exist but to thrive for a brief period of time.