- Hardcover: 383 pages
- Publisher: E. P. Dutton (January 1, 1971)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 020527272X
- ISBN-13: 978-0205272723
- ASIN: B00005VVDF
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 93 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,685,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Family Hardcover – January 1, 1971
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Manson kept yelling and, so the parable goeth, the biker shrank, the "meat fell off his bones," and green smoke issued upward. Whoa! though M, as the vision of prison hit his mind, causing him to stop. He reversed the input and began an incantation that brought the beam-dried biker back to musculature and life...
Whoa, dude! Don't let that vision of prison hit your mind!
Another bit of "insight," re stylist Sebring in Hollywood: "If you are a public performer, you pay a lot of attention to your face and hair -- that's all there is to it. You do." OK, dude.
Sanders was an adult when he wrote this book, but his prose usually reads like that of a 19-year-old college boy trying to be cool. And over a quarter of the book is devoted to Sanders hanging out with his "cool, underground" friends. See, for instance, Ch. 69, in which Sanders releases an album, hangs out at the LA Free Press offices, and is sent a "witchy shirt" made for him by Squeaky Fromme! Oo-ee-oo! (The latter "oo-ee-oo" sound turns up often in the book, indicating that something "witchy" is going on.)
In short, I didn't learn a single thing from this book that I didn't already know before about Manson, his case, and his life and times. I made my way through the juvenile writing and then set the book aside to sell on eBay or Amazon.
Sanders, an old Beatnik and member of the legendary "Fugs" band of the hippie era came at this story with the sense of horror that so many hippies and people drawn to some elements of hippie thinking did. How could a group of hippies have moved from "peace and love" to butchering innocent people? Bugliosi's account focuses on Manson's Beatles' derived ideology and, in some ways, is the worst possible message about hippies. Blame the Beatles or at least crazed misinterpretations of The White Album.
Sanders' approach is a mishmash, even without the chapter on The Process Church that is only available if you can find a first edition. Celebrity porn, cults, satanists and a variety of other lurid elements get tossed in the mix, but if you read past the sensationalism, Sanders' narrative is compelling. In his view, Charles Manson was a career criminal and his role in the family was more as pimp than the second coming of Ken Kesey. Sanders' suggests that Manson chose both the Tate and LaBianca households as targets because of his criminal connections: Tate's household because of a bad drug deal probably staged by previous occupants and LaBianca's household for unpaid debts and a connection to questionable coin collecting. And while Manson might have used the hippie/White Album/apocalyptic mantras of Bugliosi's prosecution to manipulate his followers that was not what Manson was after. Manson becomes a wolf among the hippie sheep rather than a hippie leader gone around the bend.
As someone who participated in that era, I always found Sanders' view compelling because it finds a chilling rationality at the center of these horrific crimes that removes them from being an indictment of the hippie ethos. And all the craziness in the book make it an engaging read.