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Charles Manson: Coming Down Fast [Kindle Edition]

Simon Wells
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the summer of 1969, a set of grisly murders shocked the population of Los Angeles and the rest of the US. Seven people lay senselessly butchered, among them actress Sharon Tait, the beautiful young wife of Roman Polanski, just a month away from the birth of their first child. Thin strands of evidence pointed to a hippyish cult set up in an abandoned ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles, and its delusional, Messianic leader, Charles Manson.

Little was known about this would-be rock star and his peculiar ‘family’ of young female acolytes. It was only later, after the sensational court case that ended with four of the cult members being sentenced to death, that his full, horrifying story would emerge: one in which drugs, sex, murder, mind-control, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Mafia, and even the President of America all played their part.

Collecting testimony from previous members of the Manson family alongside new evidence linking a cult member to a murder in London, COMING DOWN FAST charts Manson’s terrifying rise from petty-criminal drifter to one of the most recognisable icons in criminal history, and explores the long reach of his crimes that to this day, so vex and shock the public imagination.

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'Simon Wells does a good job of wrapping all the facts together, debunking some of the myths and in a non-hysterical style, telling the gruesome story that enthralls 40 years on. The book conjures the feeling of the innocence of the 60s being blown away.' (Manchester Evening News)

'Coming Down Fast is a sprawling, fast-paced account of Manson's life. . . (and) describes Manson's disrupted life in telling detail.' (The Times)

'The real reason for reading this unexpectedly fascinating book is for the overview on the whole Manson saga, reverberating from President Nixon downwards.' (Daily Mail)

Book Description

Forty years after the Manson Family murders, this is the definitive account of the crimes that shocked the world.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1178 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (16 April 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002VHI8O0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #230,346 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Simon Wells has written on film and music for numerous magazines and newspapers including the Guardian; The Times and The Independent. He is a regular contributor to Record Collector, Hotdog, TV Zone, Watch, Total Film, and the Beatles' Book; the group's official magazine. In addition to his writing credits, Simon has researched numerous projects for the likes of the BBC, Channel Four and Virgin, as well as broadcasting live on LBC, ITN and BBC on film and music.

In 2001, Simon co-wrote "Your Face Here- British Cult Movies Since the 1960' which was published by Fourth Estate/Harper-Collins. The book was a critical success, entering the BBC's "Top Ten Film Books of the Year" list. During the summer of 2003, Simon was asked to curate a month-long season of classic 1960's cult movies at the National Film Theatre in London. Simon is the author of the hugely successful "The Beatles: 365 Days" published by Abrams/Time Warner, which to date has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. Simon has also written "The Beatles in Japan," published by Tascam in June 2006, and "The Rolling Stones: 365 Days" published in November 2006. In July 2007, Simon wrote the screenplay for the documentary "Don't Knock Yourself Out", a visual history of "The Prisoner" television series. 2009 saw the release of "Coming Down Fast", an exhaustive account of the Charles Manson "Family" saga-published by Hodder & Stoughton. Simon's new book is "Butterfly On A Wheel" an account of the arrest and trial of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger in 1967.

Simon is also a musician and has his first album out on 208 records entitled, "Sometimes In The Morning". Available from 208records at

Interviews relating to Charles Manson: Coming Down Fast. Here....

Simon's blogs are below

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the top 3 Manson books 12 Jun. 2009
With the 40th anniversary of the Tate/La Biance murders coming up in August there was always a good chance that some new Charles Manson books would start appearing on the shelves. Fortunately this one is far from a quick cash-in and is an extremely detailed, intricate and sober account of the rise and demise of The Family. With the hyperbole toned down Simon Wells has succeded in making the case possibly even more shocking, especially the ease with which Manson moved throughout Hollywood from '67 to '69. What's particualrly good here is that individual members of The Family all get to tell their stories, often long after Manson and the murderers were imprisoned. Even for those familiar with the stories of Squeaky, Sandra and some of Manson's more vocal supporters, there will be something new here in terms of less famous members of the group. Some of the tapes and interview footage that Wells has uncovered is also fascinating and helps to put new meanings onto Manson's own turgid philosophy. The only potential downside is that possibly too much is read into Joel Pugh's death in the UK - no doubt it was suspicious and in Bruce Davis there's a potentially powerful Family suspect but equally it can be read very much as a suicide. But this is a minor point and certainly doesn't detract from the book, and at least Wells develops themes from the original classic, Helter Skelter. Overall, then, you've got to take your hat off to the author for bringing a fresh insight, and a fairly level headed approach (the book often reads like a sober version of Adam Gorightly's conspiracy-packed Shadow Over Santa Susanna, itself getting a 40th anniversary reprint this Summer), to the well-trodden sensationalism of this most infamous case.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great - but a publishers rushed job? 12 Aug. 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I suspect this book was rushed out by the publisher before it was finally proofed in order to meet the 40th Anniversary deadline & if I were the author I'd feel miffed.

Firstly, let me say it is, on the whole, an excellent & objective look at a series of incidents that have become fraught with media enhanced myth, embellishment and sensationalism, often leading to a clouding of facts. This book appears well researched, the crimes being put into cultural and political context in an accessible and highly readable manner. The author evidently knows his stuff. I can't recommend it enough for anyone interested in the breakdown of the 1960's and American society at the end of that decade.

However, the book is chock full of what appear to be ridiculous typos and mis-spellings leading to some bizarre errors (just for example: 10050 Cielo Drive where the Tate murders took place becomes 10055 a sentence later; or the Neil Young song 'Revolution Blues' is quoted as being written since 2000 when it was in fact written in the early 70's as a direct response to the horrific events, and Young's own 'meeting' with the Family in the late 60s). The list of typos is endless. But most annoyingly the book begins with a series of numbered notes in the text referring to sources, quotes etc but these notes appear nowhere in the book and in fact the numbers then peter out half way through. A book like this needs the direct sources (as well as the references, bibliography given) otherwise how are we to believe evidence? Especially as the latter section of the book refers to crimes the Family may have commited beyond those they were convicted for. The publisher needs to hire a better proof-reader! It just seems shoddy.

If you can get over the occassional confusion due to these errors, it is a good book for anyone interested in what remains a disturbing episode in US history and the sad, final marker post for what had once been optimistic times.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dumbed down 4 July 2010
This book has been done the injustice of being dumbed down, apparently both by the publishers and by the author. Wells has a writing style that I find annoying - he can't write a noun without attaching an adjective to it - "he was speedily re-arrested" rather than "he was re-arrested"; whereas for a non-fiction book the rule should be that if one is available, attach a fact: "He was re-arrested within 2 days".

This gives the whole book a tabloidy feel, and it's not helped by the lack of end- or footnotes (though Hodder & Stoughton have been sloppy enough in some places in the book to leave pointers to notes which have not been printed) - this sometimes leads to the feeling that a thread in the storyline is being left hanging.

The book also hasn't been (properly) proof-read. Note to Hodder: spell-checking alone is not sufficient. A spell-checker can't identify that it should be they'd instead of there'd, hoped instead of hopped, relived instead of relieved, filled instead of filed, and so on ... and with the smattering of factual inaccuracies, it feels too much like a rush job.

Presumably in an attempt to make this book different from the many others about Manson, Wells has chosen to highlight Manson's music (not surprising given the author's background), and the death of Joel Pugh - and the latter needed much more to give it the relevance that the author was aiming for.

Apart from the grating style, it is fairly readable, but it could have been a lot, lot better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh Out Of Bejesus 21 Jun. 2009
By Mooch
This mostly satisfying treatment of the morbidly fascinating Manson story is a great - and predictably terrifying - read for anyone who, like me, is familiar with the basic gist of what happened but has not read anything else on the subject. As for those with more knowledge, I'm afraid I can't help but I'll try to break down the contents of the book for you.

The first 40 pages deal with Manson's first 32 years - his mother's situation, him being moved around different homes and then his litany of juvenile offences and periods of incarceration, then finally his 7 year stretch in his twenties / early thirties. It was pacy and never boring but I could have done with more on this last period of prison as it seems so crucial to what happened later - it was when he started to dabble in alternative religions and psychology.

The following 100 pages are about Charlie building up The Family and pursuing his musical opportunities. This was probably the best section of the book, Wells writes about the backgrounds of many of the cult members and how they drifted into Manson's orbit, and about the day-to-day life of The Family. Interestingly, the writer keeps Charlie's dark side largely out of sight, with the effect that the reader is to some extent seduced by the fun time they all seem to be having, though I did want to know a lot more about Manson's mind-games and how he was able to keep so many people following him - it was a lot more than just wanting to keep the good life going, they hung on his every word and evangelised about him wherever they went.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not read any books on this subject before so not ...
Not read any books on this subject before so not sure how it stands up to the many other books written about the nightmare at the end of the hippie dream that was Manson and his... Read more
Published 1 month ago by E. Williamson
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 10 months ago by stanley rodgers
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling
A chilling account of what makes a person tick .... a very good read, but not for the squeamish that's for sure.
Published on 29 July 2013 by S. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting.
This book gave an interesting insight into life in late 1960's Calafornia. It also gave food for thought as to how a relatively uneducated man, can have a great influence and... Read more
Published on 7 Jan. 2013 by Bill.
4.0 out of 5 stars Charlie says...
A very long book, but well worth the effort, as it covers everything you could ever want to know about Manson and the family. Read more
Published on 16 May 2012 by I. P. Terry
5.0 out of 5 stars coming down fast
This book was fantastic! Highly reccomended! Extremely thorough, very interesting as it went into who charles manson was growing up, where he'd been, the life he'd had before the... Read more
Published on 31 Mar. 2011 by HannahJean
5.0 out of 5 stars Mansonmania
I have read quite a few books about Charlie, and i reckon this just about tops the pile.
I have always wondered what it would have been like to have witnessed the lunacy and... Read more
Published on 24 Nov. 2009 by JONESY
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst "Manson" book ever
Poorly written, poorly researched with nothing to add to the already extensive catalogue of Manson Family books already out there. Read more
Published on 20 Nov. 2009 by S. Burton
5.0 out of 5 stars No Sympathy For The Devil
In a recent TV sitcom, a character was compared to Charles Manson and the studio audience roared with laughter. Read more
Published on 1 Oct. 2009 by Hector G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
This is a fascinating and really well written book. I knew very little about the Manson family before I read it and revelled a dark, menacing side of the 60s that had never... Read more
Published on 3 Sept. 2009 by S. Hilmi
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One of the better of all the 'Manson'books 0 30 May 2009
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