Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties

by Dianne Lake, Deborah Herman


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In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his "girls."

At age fourteen Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of "Charlie’s girls," a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.

Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later took her into his home, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.

While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting account from an actual Family member is a chilling portrait that recreates in vivid detail one of the most horrifying and fascinating chapters in modern American history.

Member of the Family includes 16 pages of photographs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062695574
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/24/2017
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Dianne Lake is a retired special-education teacher and mother of three.

Deborah Herman is the author of twelve books, an attorney, and a journalist.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Prologue 1

Part I Turn On

1 A Minnesota Childhood 9

2 Family Matters 20

3 One Stray Ash 30

4 California 39

5 How to Be-In 46

6 Hippies in Newsprint 64

7 The Note 87

8 Welcome to the Hog Farm 107

9 Someone Groovy 121

Part II Tune In

10 The Black Bus 133

11 We Are All One 147

12 Panhandling and Postulating 167

13 Snake 185

14 Spahn Ranch 199

15 Beach Boy 211

16 A Little Monkey 232

17 A Door Closes 245

18 On the Edge 257

19 Baking Soda Biscuits 268

20 Out of Sight 280

21 Preaching the White Album 290

22 A Simple Bag of Coins 305

Part III Drop Out

23 The Witches' Brew 315

24 Reclaiming My Name 334

25 My Day in Court 352

Epilogue 375

Acknowledgments 385

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Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book told all the truth.
Anonymous 15 days ago
What a story! I am so happy that the author was able to lead a normal life after the twisted past she had led. I did not have much knowledge of Charles Manson or his "family" prior to reading this book and as a true crime fan, I am fascinated.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Great book, was reading it in my free time. Well written, incredibly descriptive; truly felt as though I was seeing the Manson family through Dianne Lake's eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before I begin my reiew, I would like to commend Dianne's bravery and her willingness to share her story. Member Of The Family is an overall interesting book. Something that bothered me throughout my reading it however, is that Dianne Lake can't seem to decide if her book is an autobiography of her life or a memoir of her experiences as they relate to her time with "the family". While I found a lot of the tales of her childhood and upbringing interesting to read, she seemed to focus too much of the book on it, especially in regards to her relationship with her parents. I believe that some of it is necessary and relevant to her time with Manson, but she spent a great portion of the book focusing on her life before even meeting Manson. I would have preferred reading more about her time after meeting him.. not only the description of what it was like and of her experience in the family, but towards the end of her relationship and afterwards as well, like the court case and what that was like, how the girls behaved leading to the arrest and during the case. Despite all this, i really liked the book and enjoyed reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good
SmithFamilyinEngland2 More than 1 year ago
At 14 I became one of Charles Manson's girls. At 17 I helped put him in prison'...... "Member of the Family - Manson, Murder and Me" is the true story of Charles Manson, one of the 20th Century's most notorious criminal figures - of life inside his cult, the group's descent into madness and the darkness that ended the sixties. Dianne Lake was the youngest and among the earliest of his recruits to what became infamously known as, the 'Family'. She did not participate in the infamous Tate-Labianca murders but witnessed the aftermath and unwittingly received each of the murderer's confessions. She eventually ended up serving as the last key witness in the trial that put each of the murderers in jail. This is her story.... I was truly interested and fascinated in Dianne's childhood and upbringing and how she became inducted into the Manson 'Family' to become one of 'Charlie's girls'. I was engrossed in her life story and found it very gripping reading. The details she went into was harrowing but very compelling and I really felt sad for her and the others involved in the notorious cult, suffering psychological control and physical abuse. I could fully understand how she wanted to keep that life separate from her new one, she was so young and once she had given her final evidence in court to help convict Manson she just wanted to put it all behind her and start a new life, which she did until that forever feared phone call happened, "Are you Dianne Lake?" the name she hadn't used in over thirty years. I've always been a huge fan of true crime and I loved reading this chilling portrait, I was particularly interested in the many photographs included in the book that accompanied the story. I would highly recommend "Member of the Family" to non fiction crime readers of all ages even those not overly familiar with the horrifying but fascinating Charles Manson story, it's an addictive and compelling confession that's never been told before and one I'm sure Dianne is very pleased to have finally written. 5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!! i really recommend this book. I feel so bad for Dianne but Im glad her life turned around and she found her happiness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
People may see this bok as a quick cash grab given the notoriety of the manson family, but this book is not the case. It is deeply insightful and well written and gives you a first hand account into the manson family cult. A page turner that was hard to put down.
B-loNY More than 1 year ago
Nonsense, save your money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So tragic! So well written! Many books out there about the horrific crimes of the Manson Family but this book is a first of its kind. Such a detailed and intimate portrait of Charles Manson that answers so many questions about how he was able to manipulate his followers.. Left a lingering shock long after the book was finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting, sad, scary, and bravely written. How could parents do what they did and never feel bad. Remarkable Dianne healed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book. I highly recommend it.
freshair3 More than 1 year ago
If you are a student of psychology, you will appreciate this book. If you are a lover of the sixties and the counter culture, this book is an eye opener. The account of how a studious 14 year old girl ended up in the Manson cult is fascinating as much as the abuse she suffered in the name of "love" is sad. The book does not delve into gory details of the murders simply because Diane was not a part of the murderous crew. Her tale of survival is well worth the read and you will cheer for her in the end.