Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

by Jeff Guinn


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Based on new interviews with previously undiscovered relatives and filled with revelations and unpublished photographs, this is the most authoritative account of the life of Charles Manson.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451645170
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 144,820
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Jeff Guinn is an award-winning former investigative journalist and the bestselling author of numerous books, including Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde; The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral—And How It Changed the West; Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson; and The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. Guinn lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

Jim Frangione is an actor and audiobook narrator who won AudioFile magazine’s 2011 Best Voice in Mystery and Suspense for his reading of Philip Carter’s The Altar of Bones and Spencer Quinn’s To Fetch a Thief. He has won numerous Earphones Awards and has been was a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award. His theater credits include the off-Broadway production of Scrambled Eggs and the New York premiere of David Mamet’s plays The Old Neighborhood, Romance, and Oleanna, in which he also performed with the national tour. His film and television appearances include Joy, Transamerica, Spartan, Heist, Brotherhood, The Unit, and Law & Order.

Table of Contents

Author's Note on Names xi

Prologue: Charlie at the Whisky 1

Chapter 1 Nancy and Kathleen 9

Chapter 2 Moundsville and McMechen 23

Chapter 3 Kathleen and Charlie 33

Chapter 4 McMechen Again 47

Chapter 5 Prison 57

Chapter 6 Berkeley and the Haight 77

Chapter 7 Charlie in the Summer of Love 94

Chapter 8 L.A. 113

Chapter 9 Charlie and Dennis 148

Chapter 10 The Ranches 172

Chapter 11 The Bible and the Beatles 194

Chapter 12 Thwarted Dreams 220

Chapter 13 Tate 241

Chapter 14 LaBianca and Shea 260

Chapter 15 Death Valley 285

Chapter 16 Unraveling 308

Chapter 17 Charlie Is Famous 333

Chapter 18 The Trial 357

Chapter 19 The Wrong Man in the Right Place at the Right Time 385

Acknowledgments 401

Appendix Key People Afterwards 403

Note on Sources 405

Notes 407

Bibliography 451

Index 477

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Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
CherylM-M More than 1 year ago
First of all I would like to say a few words about the last few paragraphs in this book. For me Guinn manages to pinpoint Manson exactly right in those last few sentences. I actually nodded in agreement as I read them. The fact that the author managed to get Manson's family members, sorry his genetic family, to talk to him gives this book some extra insight. It is filled with factual info that makes a lot of things less mystical, and let's be honest the media likes to paint Manson that way, and with a great deal more realism than is usually shown in regards to this true story. Manson is a sociopath. There is nothing special about him and he doesn't possess an awe-inspiring charisma. Manson obviously learnt to manipulate at an early age and use his adapted Dale Carnegie skills. He was/is a controlling, abusive, misogynistic criminal with a tendency towards violence. If he and his cult members hadn't been caught they would have gone on to murder many more. They didn't though and unfortunately the vile acts they committed has given Manson and his tribe the attention and notoriety that Manson craved. Even now, after many decades his name still commands and instills a sense of evil and foreboding in people of which he is not and never was deserving. His fellow comrades in murder seem to get a lot of leniency from many corners. Drugs, mass-thought, fear and control can only explain a part of their involvement. Fact is they are the ones who used the weapons. Nobody forced Susan Atkins to stab Sharon Tate, no person held Tex's hand while he stabbed, shot and caved the victim's head in. They are just as responsible as the person who sent them there. They went without concise orders so ultimately they decided to choose to commit murder and how to do it. I have no pity and am not swayed by arguments that place the sole blame on Manson. Guinn doesn't do that. He doesn't play up to the media hype or make excuses for the poor brainwashed vulnerable females/males. He sees Manson for the role-playing manipulator he is. Even after all these years Manson still sits in prison and thrives on the attention of murder junkies, Manson fans and the media. Despite the fact that the flow of information could have been a little smoother this was a good book. It contains a lot of insight from sources close to Manson and people who were part of his life on a daily basis. I especially liked the fact that the author gives the reader all the info about Manson's rocky childhood, adolescence and early adulthood in juvenile detention or prison. that way the reader can absorb that information and decide whether it is enough of a factor to feel sympathy or understanding for Manson. The author allows us to have that opening, a door of sorts, and then right at the end he opens another door. The door marked 'Manson would have done this anyway, it just would have been another time and different victims' and I for one will gladly walk through that door. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a truly fascinating look into the life of one of the most notorious murders in America's history. It is extremely well researched and documented. At times it turns your stomach. It is a brilliantly written book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite a good read. It contained a lot of interesting information i'd not heard or read of before. The author covers the subject matter very thoroughly but keeps the pace. The book never dragged. I'm interested in reading others by this author.
Brenda_Fulbright More than 1 year ago
What an exceptional book!!! I was mesmerized by the details of the life of Charles Manson. He is such a monster and it is interesting to see the steps that were taken to create his evil over the course of his early life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read other books on this subject, but this book shed some new light into both Manson's childhood and the Tate-LaBianco murders that I had never before heard. It is definitely a must read if you are true crime follower.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a combination of new information and a rehashing of the olldI also liked the background info on the 1960'S
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I've read other books about Manson, this book added info I didn't know. The whole life story is completely eerie and creepy. It will make your hair stand up by the roots. This book was well worth the money. Also, another new novel called "The Partisan" by Willian Jarvis has a evil sociopathic character - as well. This new novel has strong male and female characters. It is based on facts about World War II. That book is only 99 cents on the Nook right now. Both books are fascinating. They deserve A++++++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In anticipation of a podcast I listen to which is featuring Manson for a series, I read this book as it was one of the main sources for the podcast. I had read Helter Skelter at least twice over many years and found it fascinating. This was an awfully good read if you are interested in true crime. Really in depth review of Manson's life as a child and young man behind bars more than half his life by the time he was out and started the family at age 33. Then when you start to realize what was going on during those years and how isolate and drugged these young people were from everything you can see how he was effective isolating them....but ultimately they chose to kill, yes on his command but still, they could have said no. It's heartbreaking to read about the victims. Really well written book. They should all rot in jail and not be paroled, don't care how much they find Jesus. Just wish some of the other members who participated were identified as they seem to have changed names and disappeared, you could be living next to them. Scary.
joann1947 More than 1 year ago
I Like the way this story was written. It is untrue about how many pages story is at least 100 pages were reference for the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually love getting to know the inside details of serial killers or someone related to this category. As most people, we like to know the "how and why" of most crimes that occur. This book was giving everything you need to know about the build up of how Charles Manson became the person he is. It is very intriguing, insightful, and informative. This author did a superb job of putting as much information as he can into this book, which include genetic family members words and anyone that was in contact with Charles. If you want to know how Manson became the person he is, I totally recommend this book to you. P.s. Saw this book at my local B&N bookstore, it was $30; as ane-book it was $15.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haven't finished yet but it is a great read. Also check out Hector's Juice as a companion fantasy/historical fiction book.
KyKim More than 1 year ago
Jaw Dropping & Surprising I just finished Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn. WOW! I really learned a lot from this book, I was only a small child at the time the Tate/LaBianca murders, so can't really remember when this all took place. But have read and heard lots about it since.  The author gives a lot of background history of the 60's and 70's and what was going on in the world at that time as well as the early years of Charles Manson. How his mother and and uncle spend time in prison, leaving Charlie to be raised by his grandmother and another aunt and uncle. His mother did try for a while after being released but Charlie was a manipulator from the early years. His early years in reform schools & the penitentiary he learned more ways to get people to do what he wanted. The book contains interviews from adopted sister Nancy, and cousin Jo Ann. And pictures of Charlie as a young boy who you would not know by looking at the pictures that he would grow up to be the "The Most Dangerous Man Alive". It is scary that one man could have such influence over people that they would do whatever he told them to. This is a must have book for anyone interested in the Manson family and the Tate/LaBianca murders. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, rather it be good or bad.
GingerSnapp More than 1 year ago
A book about Charlie Manson that delves into his boyhood, and the occurances that shaped his personality into a con-man who had the power to persuade his "Family" members to commit murders at his command. It is interesting reading, but it is no Helter Skelter.
Lindy27 More than 1 year ago
Such a well written and researched book. Yes, I do believe that Charles Manson does possess demons, but reading about his early years makes me question, can monsters be made by others who are evil? How could a person be at the receiving end of the abuse that he went through without becoming a predator.
MerlinDB More than 1 year ago
As good as Helter-Skelter. My only criticism is I wish there were more pictures--esp. of the followers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, Jeff Guinn put a lot of time into his research.  If you are looking for gore and gross details this is not the book for you.  This book really focuses on Manson and his followers and how they got to the point in their lives where they would commit murder.  It is very detailed and provides a lot more information surrounding the hippie culture of the late 60's.  It shows how these young people with such low self esteem could be so easily manipulated.  It also provides much insight about Manson's childhood and family life.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is by far the most informative and interesting book ever written about Manson, at least in my opinion. And I believe I have read all books relating to the Sharon Tate case.
Chowbell More than 1 year ago
I loved Guinn's book on Bonnie and Clyde, Go Down Together, and I am very interested in the Manson family so I bought this book in hardback which I hardly ever do. This book met and exceeded my expectations.  I highly recommend it .
AuntMay More than 1 year ago
A riveting account of Charles Manson's early life leading up to his status as a cult leader and murderer.
BigKevLittleKev More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. There's also a great essay about the Manson/Beach Boys/Tate connection in the book The Man Who Killed Paul McCartney.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An angle of Manson we've yet to see, this biography transcends the gratuitous violence as well as the family's self-perpetuated hyperbole. One reads about Manson's upbringing, the long suffering burdens of his mother who was not a prostitute or an awful mother but a girl a lot like those Charlie exploits and programs to serve his insane agenda . Anecdotes about his childhood, his mother's efforts to make sense of her son and his behavior are among some of the most riveting revelations the book offers. While I don't believe other notable bios are remiss or deliberately erroneous, the efforts of this well respected crime writer reflect an ardent and extensive interest in making sense of Manson. Most outings make Manson more enigmatic, but Guinn captures the little icon with an astute account of his education in American penal systems as well as his slick exploitation in San Francisco when he was released in time to take advantage of the summer of love where Charlie tailed the diggers and aped their garbage runs, misogyny and and ecology minded concerns. Indeed, Charlie clearly learns a lot from Mary Brunner his first family member. A homely librarian with high intelligence and a precocious environmental bent, she essentially enabled Charlie to embark on his Helter skelter madness by way of her money, education and emotional vulnerability. I've always considered Charlie a performance artist. One of my favorite parts of the narrative is when Terry Melcher, Dennis Jacoby and Brian Wilson are quoted and reflect on the strange ways Charlie operated. One scene in the Roxy illustrates the dynamics of the trio and Charlie so starkly, one almost empathizes with the murderous rage of America's favorite killer. By far the most important bio on the Manson murders to date. I've read most of these books and there are a few great ones. The Family, Garbage People and Helter Skelter stand out but none of those writers had the kind of advantages Guinn does thanks to hindsight, technology and all the sources ready to talk. Read this raRe and well written gem if Manson fascinates you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Horrible book that offers nothing new at all except in the forward .That baits you into reading more, but anyone with access to the websites about the Family knew everything written in this book . Horrible
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't think there was anything new to say about Manson... but there is! This is a well written book logically leading the reader chapter by chapter to an understanding of how this man turned from a troubled child into a manipulative monster without conscience or remorse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago