This book kind of grabbed my interest primarily because several members of “The Manson Family” have recently come up for parole, because there has been a substantial amount of time between the crimes and now and because aside from Charles Manson’s schizo interviews for tv, I have never heard from Manson himself.
I would like to say to the victim’s families if they read the review or come across it – the man admitted his part in both nights’ activities. There was really no shying away from that. In fact, although all the other participants are eager to point the finger, I have to agree with Manson on a few points.
One: It was the perfect storm. A whole bunch of disenfranchised youths met with an older ex-con who was himself socially and emotionally immature. While looking for someone to follow, they made a very poor choice but free choice was involved. The majority of people living on that compound were involved in petty crime and drugs.
Two: There are some players who bear heavy responsibility for the events of those nights. More than others. But Manson made it crystal clear and unvarnished that he was at the Tate residence after the murders and before the cops and the La Bianaca’s before the murders. He has no issues with doing the time. He is a career criminal and he does not shy away from that in the book.
Three: The families should be equally pissed at Vincent Bugliosi. That man wrote Helter Skelter which is sensationalism of the worst kind. It disrespected the victims and actually made the killers way more famous than they otherwise would have been. He did that to self-aggrandize. He was the Rudy Giuliani of his time. I now better understand how he pushed ideas that were not actually part of the case and re-wrote history.
Four: This is a great guide for how a child can turn into a criminal. Poverty, being criminalized and brutalized as a very young child, identity confusion, looking for love combined with social conditions and drugs and then throw in spending a lot of time among the criminal element, will create a Charles Manson.
Fifth and Last: Manson is just a man. A deeply flawed, career criminal who would have continued to commit petty crimes and be in and out of institutions regardless. He admits it, knows it, understands it and accepts it. He himself was at times surprised by the way events unfolded and at other times directed those events. He is a con man but had nothing to lose.
A strength of the book is that it was written by a man who did time with Manson prior to the murders and then became a journalist. He understands prison politics and bullshit and since he knew Manson both before and after, he was immune to the myth and understood the man.
This is probably the most honest account you will get. Very unvarnished. And for all Manson fans, a wakeup call from the man who himself debunks the myth.