Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson (Hardcover)
Based on new interviews with previously undiscovered relatives and filled with revelations and unpublished photographs, this is the most authoritative account of the life of Charles Manson.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.
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 OK 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.
“Manson is not simply a biography of a killer and a cultist. It's a history of American culture from the Great Depression to the close of the 20th century. It's the dirty boogie in four-four time, a fascinating study of greed, mind control, celebriphilia, sex, narcotics, racism, and the misuse of power. I lived in South Los Angeles when many of the events in this book took place. No one has told the story as accurately as Jeff Guinn. It's the story of Nixon and Johnson, Martin Luther King, Vietnam, the SDS, the Black Panthers, the acid culture, and a nation coming apart at the seams. From the first page to the last, I could hardly put it down. Hang on, reader. This is a rip-roaring ride you won't forget.”
— James Lee Burke
“[A] brawny, deep-digging biography that's much more riveting than might be expected. . . . Mr. Guinn is fascinating in his use of hindsight, and it allows him a more probing view of his subject than earlier biographers had. . . . Steadily surprising.”
— Janet Maslin
“Brilliant. Written with deep insight and in seamless, fluid prose, Guinn’s Manson expands the story of the cult leader into something far beyond the shocking story we're used to. The best book about Manson that I’ve read . . . and I think I’ve read them all.”
— Jeffrey Deaver
"[A] riveting, almost Dickensian narrative. . . . four stars."
— Judith Newman
“[A] tour-de-force of a biography. . . . Vincent Bugliosi’s book Helter Skelter led me to believe there was nothing more to learn. . . . I was wrong. . . . [Manson] stands as a definitive work: important for students of criminology, human behavior, popular culture, music, psychopathology and sociopathology, and compulsively readable.”
— Ann Rule
"[Guinn] is now proving himself to be one of the pre-eminent true crime writers in the country. . . . Even though you know how the story turns out, you’re surprised on almost every page."
— Jim Witt
"Guinn has managed against all odds to offer a fresh take and a worthy complement to the first-hand immediacy of [Vincent] Bugliosi's Helter Skelter. . . . Offers new insight to those who lived through that turbulent era, and provides essential context to those who didn't. What emerges is a grim but highly compelling portrait of a 'lifelong social predator' who was 'always the wrong man in the right place at the right time.'"
— Daniel Stashower
“Jeff Guinn takes the reader on a fascinating, chilling visit to a dark and decadent time in American history, all the while maintaining a laser focus on the era’s most recognizable face of evil. A gifted writer and master researcher, Guinn explores the depths of Charles Manson’s twisted psyche in a brilliant effort that dramatically raises the bar on the true crime genre.”
— Carlton Stowers, two-time Edgar winner for Best Fact Crime
"A striking, full-length portrait of one of American history’s most notorious sociopaths. . . . Guinn takes readers on a head-spinning ride through Manson’s deeply disturbed childhood, his criminal career and his brief tenure as satanic guru to the damaged disciples, mostly women, he held in thrall. . . . A compulsively readable account of a murderer who continues to fascinate."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Riveting. . . . The author’s richly detailed but well-paced narrative fleshes out the demented logic behind the crimes. . . . Guinn’s portrait is an absorbing true crime saga and a searching exploration of the anomie, broken homes, and crazed hopes that led lost souls to mistake Manson for the answer to their prayers.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Splendid, comprehensively researched. . . . [Guinn] has given us an American nightmare from which we have not yet fully awoken."
— Ariel Gonzalez
"Fascinating. . . . Manson isn't merely a hybrid biography/true crime book, though. It's also a sweeping cultural history. . . . [Guinn] making a name for himself as a doggedly thorough chronicler of famous American criminals. Manson, which uncovers new material culled from exclusive interviews, should draw an even larger readership. It certainly deserves it."
— Doug Childers
"Manson is a book impossible to put down, the details so palpable that the sense of being a part of each scene is almost overwhelming. . . . Guinn manages something much more than a true-crime book. Filled with the trampled hopes and broken dreams of those who gave their lives to a sociopath, Manson is an American tragedy."
— Michael E. Young
"Author Jeff Guinn likes to dive into stories we think we know and give us much more. . . . Manson is a well-told, well-researched story that explains much about the murderer, his followers and his times."
— Douglas Williams
"Sometimes a book is so good that the reviewer does not know where to begin. It doesn't happen often, but this is one of those times. . . . Jeff Guinn has produced not only the best biography of Charles Manson, but the best study of American true crime since Victoria Lincoln's A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight. . . . [A] consistently superb book. . . . Flawless."
— Florence King
"Biographer Jeff Guinn spent years on this book and it shows. . . . Manson will remain the definitive biography of this 'true life criminal.'"
— Steve Heilig