In 1969, four Manson Family members invaded the rented home of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski in Los Angeles. Sharon Tate, who was pregnant, was murdered along with three friends and an 18 year old visitor.
The murders have gone down in history as one of the most infamous murders in America and the story isn’t fading away anytime soon, especially with Quentin Tarantino’s most recent film, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, dealing directly with the subject.
These ‘Manson Family’ murders have been dealt with in various ways through television, movies, and of course, books. Thus, we have created a list of six books for those interested in learning more about the man and the myth.
Image via Amazon
6. ‘Member of the Family’ by Dianne Lake
Member of the Family by Dianne Lake is a memoir by one of Charles Manson’s ‘girls’, telling her story of life under him. At age 14, Dianne became part of the Manson cult and its youngest member. For two years, she endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse under Manson’s dark sway.
From her perspective, Dianne describes the cult’s descent into madness before their forgone conclusion. With the help of authority figures, therapists, and the police, Dianne was rehabilitated and grew to live a normal life. Now with have her book which tells her side of the story, giving key insights into Manson’s madness and showcasing one of the darkest chapters of American history.
image via Amazon
5. ‘Manson: The life and Times of Charles manson’ by Jeff Guinn
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn is a definitive account of Charles Manson himself. The author puts Manson in the context of the sixties, showing how Manson adapted to the turbulent era, an era dominated by race riots, cultural revolutions, and the Vietnam War. The author traces Manson’s origins back to his childhood, utilizing interviews with Manson’s sister, cousin, friends, classmates, and his old cellmates to show how his personality developed overtime.
All this combines to create a portrait of the man known as one of America’s biggest monsters.
Image via amazon
4. ‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline
The Girls by Emma Cline is a work of fiction but invaluable part of the Charles Manson myth nonetheless. The story tells of a familiar idea: where in Northern California, a girl called Evie Boyd is drawn into a group that showcases idea of freedom, disrespect for authority, and reckless abandonment of society. She becomes a thrall to a soon-to-be infamous cult, led by an enigmatic cult leader. Each day, Evie spirals further into darkness and further towards a path that leads to violence.
This is a great coming-of-age tale that explores the conditions that lead to the Manson Family to thrive and how that intertwines with the ideology of a teenage girl.
Image via Amazon
3. ‘The Family’ by Ed Sanders
The Family by Ed Sanders was originally published in 1971 and has become a classic of the true crime genre. Meticulously researched, Sanders interviews dozens of members of the cult, including Manson himself, providing a detailed look into their origins, ideology, and motives. While some information in this book is rife with potential misinformation, given that Sanders promotes ideas of urban myths and some ugly victim blaming, the bulk of the information is not only credible but also incredible.
Image via Amazon
2. ‘Charles Manson, the Cia, and the Secret History of the sixties’ by Tom o’neil
This book by Tom O’Nei is less a straight account of the Manson murders than a fascinating, dizzying, at times frustrating array of all of the alternative theories surrounding the case, from the suggestion that the murders may have been the result of a drug deal gone sour to the theory that Manson was a participant in CIA-sponsored LSD mind control experiments. While such theories are by no means proven, and vary wildly in terms of their believability, O’Neill does an excellent job at poking holes in the Helter Skelter narrative (not to mention the reliability of Bugliosi, who died in 2015) and forcing readers to reassess what had already been viewed as the definitive take on the case.
image via AMazon
1. ‘Helter Skelter’ by Vincent Bugliosi
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi was published in 1974 and is considered the definitive account of the Manson Murders. The chief prosecutor of the case, Bugliosi takes the readers through the twisted journey of his detective work surrounding the trial of Manson and his cult.
Although far from an unbiased source, Helter Skelter remains to this day a fundamental resource for anyone interested in the case.
Featured Image Via Amazon