I’m not going to lie…I am just supertitious enough about the books I purchase to believe that my buying a book about one of the most notorious bad guys is the kind of thing that can guarantee bad karma and a whole lot of rotten nightmares. I went back and forth about the idea of bringing this book into my house. This wasn’t just your basic murderer here, this was the granddaddy of them all, the guy so bad that he didn’t even do it and yet even at the age of 70-something, he can instill fear in the heart of the populous: Charles Manson.
I am pleased to report that I really enjoyed this book because it was well-rounded, insightful and offered not only a portrait of the mastermind behind the Tate/LaBianca murders, but also insight into the times and attitudes that led to these terrible crimes. If you know anything about Manson himself, he’s the guy who started out life with more than a few strikes against him. His mother was less than a model citizen, his father was unknown, by the time he hit the Haight/Ashbury district in 1967, he’d already been in jail half his life and actually asked not to be released because he felt at home there…However, for someone like me who was not alive when all of this was going on and who only knows what she does thanks to A&E biographies and other documentaries, I was often confused as to how this guy became so frightening so fast, how he managed to attract seemingly normal kids to follow him and how he ever got involved with the Beach Boys in the first place.
This book actually explains it. Guinn does a great job of briefly chronicling the hippie movement and how Manson learned to speak the lingo to fade into the Berkley backdrop. You learn how he seemed damaged from the get go and was further abused by many of the primary influences in his life. It was as if the good influences didn’t have a chance. The book also discusses the “family” and how they found their new guru in a short squatty man who seemed to have insight into all they were thinking and feeling at the time.
It is a thick book, which may be a bit intimidating for some readers but believe me, it goes by fast and for those who have ever been curious about this guy but don’t want to read something that will make them afraid to go to sleep at night, this is the Manson biography for you. Buy it!