Thursday, August 15, 2013


Jeff Guinn

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Manson, by Jeff Guinn, details the outrageous and horrific life of Charles Manson and his followers in the 1960s. The book begins with an detailed account of Manson’s childhood, highlighting the hardships of both Manson and his mother. Later in life, Manson would go on to inspire a cult following—his “Family”—to believe in an oncoming race war that Manson called “Helter Skelter,” inspired by the Beatles song. Manson himself tried to catalyze the race war by directing his followers to commit the tragic Tate-LaBianca murders, during which six people, including director Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, were killed.

Today, Manson remains an enigma more than forty years after his crimes, and Guinn tells us how it all unfolded like a straight-talking friend in a smoky tavern over a beer. Guinn elaborates on the more far-fetched antics of Manson, including his involvement with the Beach Boys, the mysterious drowning of a lawyer involved in the murder trial, and the attempted assassination of president Ford by one of his followers. But Guinn also captures the era as a colourful backdrop to the story, describing the streets of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco and the tension between LA neighborhoods circa 1967. Manson is the type of book that you try not to read too fast, because the details are just that compelling. Guinn never writes a dull moment.

- Ingrid Sorensen

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