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Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson Paperback – August 5, 2014

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Frequently Bought Together

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson + Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders + Manson in His Own Words: The Shocking Confessions of 'The Most Dangerous Man Alive'
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (August 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451645171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451645170
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (371 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2013: For more than 40 years, Charles Manson has cast an awful shadow over the Age of Aquarius: an unrepentant murderer synonymous with psychopath in the American lexicon, impossible to ignore or forget. Accordingly, there’s no measuring the volume of ink and celluloid committed to the man, his “family,” and their deeds. So what’s left to be said about Charles Manson? Quite a bit, it turns out. With Manson, Jeff Guinn delves deep into Manson’s “origin story” to reconstruct the wicked combination of events and circumstance that helped make the monster. In prose that’s both economical and compelling--almost hard-boiled--Guinn recounts a troubled upbringing of neglectful, criminal parents and juvenile delinquency, compelling the narrative into the increasingly bizarre landscapes of late-1960s Southern California--a context that turned out to be the perfect accelerant to Manson’s narcissistic delusions. By the time of Helter Skelter and the infamous Manson Family killings, Guinn has aligned the tumblers of Manson’s story and opened a vault of secrets regarding one of the most violent and strange episodes of modern American history. --Jon Foro --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The one gesture Guinn makes toward anything like an interpretive biography of permanent-celebrity criminal Charles Manson consists of regular citation of all the other front-page mayhem—riots, assassinations, bombings, Vietnam War atrocities—going on while the ex-con put together “the Family” and eventually directed the nine gruesome murders for which he and a half-dozen minions drew death sentences (all commuted when California’s supreme court abolished the death penalty). Guinn indulges in no psychological or sociological analysis but makes like Sergeant Joe Friday, relaying just the facts, though those include, besides the firmly established ones, many that are just most likely. In Guinn’s hands, the story of a lifelong loser who yet succeeded in gaining what he may have wanted most—fame—because he was also a world-class user of others retains both all its creepy fascination and a full measure of mystery. Well, Guinn asserts at one point, Charlie had charisma, if anyone ever did. Evidently. A fine, plain historical true-crime book. --Ray Olson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Very well researched and written.
Deborah S Sumner
One aspect of the book I particularly liked was how Guinn gives readers a clear understanding of the environment surrounding Manson at each facet of his life.
Helter Skelter by Vincent Buglisiosi, the prosecutor in the Manson Family murder trials, is my favorite true crime book.
Rachel McElhany

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia on August 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a mind expanding book. It's as much a social history of America and more specifically of California in the late sixties and the early seventies as it is a study of Manson and his so called family. Guin sets the context of Manson's story by delving into the genesis of the hippie movement in Haight-Ashbury and then as it extends across the country. One of the things that fascinates me so much about true crime is how someone comes to be involved in their crimes. What caused them to act this way? He takes us through an in depth look at Charlie's mother's growing years and her problems with her family, the law and her incarceration. So much of what Manson wants us to believe about his early years is his fabrication. He came from a loving but troubled southern family with strong (maybe too strong?) values. His grandmother and aunt and uncle did a lot to steer him towards good behavior as did his mother when she was released from prison but Charlie was a manipulative child almost from the beginning. He was a user.

During his reform school days and early adult prison stints he turned to the lessons of Dale Carnegie and Scientology not for guidance but as a way to perfect his use of others. He was motivated to be famous and determined to do anything he could to be in the limelight. He focused on becoming a musician but only accomplished rudimentary skills in that area though his self delusion told him others just couldn't appreciate his talent. He also especially looked down on women and was a rampant racist. He even fancied himself as Jesus Christ! The amazing thing is he was able to get others to believe his fantasies and to serve him.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Life and Times of Charles Manson" written by Jeff Guinn is a book about one of the most notorious killer, Charles Manson, who managed to not only avoid being punished by the death penalty for his crime but still today has his loyal fans and people who believe in his innocence. Jeff Guinn is author of several books about famous people (Doc Holliday and Earp brothers, Bonnie and Clyde...) and events / crimes in which they were involved in a way that provides more light, based on exhaustive research.

In this book he gave an excellent portrait of famous killer and sociopath Charles Manson, from his birth, childhood, the crimes he committed and encouraged, his prison days to the present day. He was born in Ohio in 1934 by his mother Kathleen and by the time he was thirty years old he had spent more than half of his life in in different institutions, from reform schools to the prison. When the authorities releases him in San Francisco, using his newly learned musical knowledge and unquestionable charisma he gathered around him a group of people. He invented his own philosophy, a combination of his own religion and rock'n roll, free love and drugs which attracted some youth who were who were naive enough to believe him. That was a start of his family which he called "The Manson Family" and it will soon become known all over the world.

They moved to Los Angeles in the hope that this would help him in his musical career but soon they were involved in lot of violent incidents that resulted in several murders - Gary Hinman, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and pregnant Sharon Tate. Manson had vision of an impending apocalypse, the war between the black and white race when murders of whites by blacks would be met with retaliation and all this chaos would be started by his Family's album.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Terry Ott on August 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Whenever a new Charles Manson tome hits the presses, Mansonphiles all around the world eagerly await its drop.

So when I read the bold pre-pub blurbs on Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn I was quite hopeful that it would equal or even possibly surpass the near 40 year old CM bible, Helter Skelter, by Vince Bugliosi and Curt Gentry.

But at least in this reviewer's opinion, Vince's book is still the ultimate reference guide on Manson and the Family.

That observation, however, does not mean that Jeff Guinn has served up a pre-Thanksgiving turkey. In fact, far from it.

At just over 400 pages in the main text, trying to tie up all the crazy ends loose and otherwise of a creature like Charles Manson et al would be near impossible although Guinn does an admirable job of following the weird and almost perversely logical Helter Skleter narrative and in fact credits Bugliosi for much that is in this book.

But what sets this book apart from most if not all others is the author's scoring of Manson cousin Jo Ann, and adopted sister Nancy, for their very first interviews on their infamous relative. This alone, makes the book worth having. There are even rare pics of a young cherubic if not downright cute little Charlie and relatives that one could have a head-scratch looking at and then know what the child was to become, the self-styled, "most dangerous man alive."

One quote from Jo Ann alone explains a lot: "Once you really got to know Charles, nothing he did was no surprise.
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