Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Having read the same author's "Go Down Together", about the lives of Bonnie & Clyde, I knew that Jeff Guinn can write, and he doesn't disappoint here, either.
This book goes all the way back, and reveals the truth about Manson's childhood, which was bad, but not nearly as bad as he would claim later that it was. He seems to have been a bad seed from the start. By taking the reader step by step and year by year, Guinn shows how Manson's patterns start early and only continue to get worse and more destructive through his lifetime.
I think everybody must wonder how he managed to exert such total control over his "Family" that they would kill for him. Guinn shows, follower by follower, how this happened, and what the horrifying results were. Searching out young people, mostly women, who were "bent, but not broken", he used a combination of pop psychology, LSD, and sex to break them down and then rebuild them as true believers.
As someone observes near the end of the book, nobody who came close to Charlie--including such disparate people as Dennis Wilson, Gerald Ford and Manson's own mother--came out undamaged. Recommended.
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