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Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Mansonby Jeff Guinn
Synopses & Reviews
Based on new interviews with previously undiscovered relatives and filled with revelations and unpublished photographs, this is the most authoritative account of the life of Charles Manson.
After more than forty years, Charles Manson continues to mystify and fascinate us. One of the most notorious criminals in American history, Manson and members of his mostly female commune killed nine people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. Now, drawing on new information, bestselling author Jeff Guinn tells the definitive story of how this ordinary delinquent became a murderer.
Manson helps us understand what obsessed him and, most terrifying of all, how he managed to persuade others to kill. Guinn interviewed Manson’s sister and cousin, neither of whom has 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 on the property was spared. There are even photographs of Manson’s childhood and youth that have never previously been seen outside private family albums.
Putting Manson in the context of his times, the turbulent end of the Sixties, Guinn shows how Manson represented the dark side of a generation. He came to Los Angeles hoping to get a recording contract, and the murders were directly related to his musical ambitions, although he cloaked them in a bizarre race-war theory. He was, in the words of one person who knew him, just like many other rock star wannabes — except that he was a killer.
“Manson is not simply a biography of a killer and a cultist. It's a history of American culture from the Great Depression to the close of the 20th century. It's the dirty boogie in four-four time, a fascinating study of greed, mind control, celebriphilia, sex, narcotics, racism, and the misuse of power. I lived in South Los Angeles when many of the events in this book took place. No one has told the story as accurately as Jeff Guinn. It's the story of Nixon and Johnson, Martin Luther King, Vietnam, the SDS, the Black Panthers, the acid culture, and a nation coming apart at the seams. From the first page to the last, I could hardly put it down. Hang on, reader. This is a rip-roaring ride you won't forget.” James Lee Burke
“Brilliant. Written with deep insight and in seamless, fluid prose, Guinn’s Manson expands the story of the cult leader into something far beyond the shocking story we're used to. The best book about Manson that I’ve read... and I think I’ve read them all.” Jeffrey Deaver
“Jeff Guinn takes the reader on a fascinating, chilling visit to a dark and decadent time in American history, all the while maintaining a laser focus on the era’s most recognizable face of evil. A gifted writer and master researcher, Guinn explores the depths of Charles Manson’s twisted psyche in a brilliant effort that dramatically raises the bar on the true crime genre.” Carlton Stowers, two-time Edgar winner for Best Fact Crime
"A striking, full-length portrait of one of American history’s most notorious sociopaths....Guinn takes readers on a head-spinning ride through Manson’s deeply disturbed childhood, his criminal career and his brief tenure as satanic guru to the damaged disciples, mostly women, he held in thrall....A compulsively readable account of a murderer who continues to fascinate." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The most authoritative account ever written of how an ordinary juvenile delinquent named Charles Manson became the notorious murderer whose crimes still shock and horrify us today.
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 on the property where the murders occurred was spared.
Manson puts the killer in the context of his times, 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, relocating to Los Angeles in search of a recording contract. His frustrated ambitions, combined with his bizarre race-war obsession, would have lethal consequences as he convinced his followers to commit heinous murders on successive nights.
In addition to stunning revelations about Charles Manson, the book contains family photographs never before published.
About the Author
Jeff Guinn is the bestselling author of several books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Last Gunfight and Go Down Together, which was a finalist for an Edgar Award in 2010. Formerly an award-winning investigative journalist and now a frequent guest on national radio and TV programs, he lives in Fort Worth, Texas.
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