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on 14 August 2017
Loads of extra info and really set the scene. Made sense of how the players all came together and it was chilling realising the paths they were on knowing where they ended up. Really fascinating context setting with the Summer of love, war in Vietnam, the Nixon years and civil unrest. The perfect backdrop enabling Charlie Manson to build The Family and belief in his whole Helter Skelter trip.
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on 21 July 2017
Excellent book. All the important details are included here & the writer references all of his quotes & sources of information at the the end & there's a lot! Really shows his commitment to telling the story accurately & the amount of work which went in to writing it. If you're interested in the REAL story of Charles Manson & the Tate - LaBianca murders rather than just a glorification of it, then this is the book for you!
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on 26 August 2017
Really enjoyed this book and very well documented. Learned a lot about those involved with life with Charles Mansons family.
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on 18 August 2017
Great book, loved it.
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on 20 March 2017
Very informative
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on 5 November 2014
I found this book absolutely engrossing. All I really knew of Manson was that he was a cult leader, and was involved in Roman Polanski's wife's murder. This book certainly filled in all of the gaps, and I found it incredible- how easily gullible people can be manipulated by someone like Manson- and he managed it across various sections of society- from Wilson of the Beach Boys, to teenage girls, cast adrift by their families. What is also incredible is how even after his capture, his 'followers' were prepared to embark upon the most serious of crimes (I won't say what it was so as not to spoil the story if you do not know), and even self mutilation to raise awareness of their leader 'Charlie'. Very scary indeed. Not so surprising to see that various members of the family later turned to religion- it seems these individuals just have to have someone or something to follow and direct them in what they need to do in life. I think Manson's real skill, if you can call it that, was identifying this gullible and flawed type of person in the first place. You do have some sympathy for some members of the 'Family' by the end of the book- albeit there is a couple who are absolute psychopaths- what would be an interesting read is whether some of these people, like 'Squeaky' would have been law abiding members of society had that not met Manson.
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on 28 September 2014
This comprehensive and fascinating biography weaves the various threads of Manson's story together very well. It provides a real insight into the influences and events which informed Manson's twisted mind - and led to the horrific Tate/La Bianca murders. Although I previously had a vague notion that one of the Beach Boys was somehow in the mix, I had no idea how important this connection was - and how overriding was Manson's belief in his own musical talents. A shrewd judge of character with an eye for the damaged and easily led, he assembled a loyal 'Family' willing to follow his every order - even to commit murder on his behalf. This excellent book tells Manson's weird story as no book has before - and is also an interesting look at the heady days of the late 1960s when a generation of 'flower children' rebelled against the 'Establishment'. Appearing to be just another group of harmless hippies, Manson's sinister Family evolved into something much darker...ending in a bloodbath that shocked America.
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on 22 September 2013
"The One".

In spite of Charles Manson's infamy, or maybe because of, there have only ever been two books of any merit about him before: Ed Sanders rather patchy "The Family" which at least invokes something of that late sixties era, and Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter". The latter certainly has merit, reading like a fast paced courtroom drama as the state prosecutor presents his fantastical sounding case for locking Manson way. I'm glad he did, but much of the story was totally lost along the way.

Jeff Guinn's "Life and Times of Charles Manson" may not read quite like the helter skelter ride one might expect from such a heady (and sickening) brew of cult indoctrination, sex, drugs, rock n roll, and violence, but it does fill in a LOT of details not given in the aforementioned titles, AND puts them in a clear chronological sequence. The result is a deeper comprehension (there can be no understanding) of the Rise and Fall of the Manson Family than we've had in the past.

Of central importance is Manson's musical ambition, something which has been sidetracked in the past because Bugliosi had to focus on (and somewhat exaggerate?) The so called Helter Skelter plan to invoke race riots. Now we can read for the first time exactly how many recording sessions / auditions, "Charlie" went through and who for, and see how his failures therein were such a turning point in his psychopathic behaviour regarding his increasingly desperate attempts to control his following. And how the communal atmosphere at Spahn and Barker ranches were so dramatically different as a result.

Also, in relation to this, we see how the location choices for the terrible murders were certainly not random. (As if common sense didn't always dictate this must have been so, even though hitherto accepted versions of the story made out the locations were almost random).

I could go on. I'm not a Manson fan. The world became a safer place with him behind bars, and that's also the attitude of the author. But if, like me, you have a broader interest in the music and history of the late 60s, and wanted to place the terrible consequence of the "turn on tune in" philosophy of those times in context, this is a good read.
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on 13 August 2013
I read Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter back in the day but have to say my mind has become dim on the actual facts of the Manson case. I've seen documentaries, clips of interviews with Manson; I remember the news when each of the girls were released from prison. And I remember the murder, the Tate murder, but not the others. This book brings everything about Charles Manson together in a cohesive story. It's not just a story of the psychopath though, it is also a story of the era in which he was able to thrive. It's a story about the sixties, flower children, gurus, Vietnam, Nixon, college riots, racial unrest and domestic terrorism. I found this part of the book absolutely fascinating. The part I found the most engrossing was his childhood story and then how he came to gather The Family together in the first place before the killings began. Manson's delusions would be comical if they hadn't resulted in such vicious violence. I also found Manson's Hollywood story, wanting to be a rock star, and especially his connection with Dennis Wilson (of the Beach Boys) fascinating. This book does not glorify Manson at all, in fact, it does the opposite, always bringing the reader back to the victims, all nine of them. The book is written in an easy to read, story-like narrative but is not exactly a page-turner. Thus I would at times put it down and come back to it a few days later, but whenever I was reading I was engrossed. The book does a great job of defining the whole era that Manson found himself in and also in de-celebritizing Manson and putting him where he belongs, just another sociopath, thankfully, in prison for life.
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on 9 August 2013
Don't listen to the never before revealed etc , I can guarantee that you will have read it all before
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