Charles Manson, the leader of the Helter Skelter gang who spent the last four decades in a maximun security prison, died at 8:13PM Sunday at Bakersfield Hospital, CA. Manson had been serving life sentence at Corcoran State Prison, where he has been locked up since his arrest in December 1969 for the Tate-LaBianca murders.
The story of the man, who became an unhinged pop culture figure, was told countless times in books, movies, documentaries and true-crime TV shows. Manson was an evil, sophisticated man with twisted and warped moral values, but also a charismatic figure, magnetic enough to attract a cloud of similar lost souls who saw him as a countercultural icon.
Here’s a list of the 10 Best Books about Charles Manson: the Man, the Leader, the Murderer.
A national bestseller with over 7 million copies sold. Prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, Vincent Bugliosi held a unique insider’s position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the twentieth century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers.
What motivated Manson in his seemingly mindless selection of victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Here is the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime.
This one is quite old, first published in 1978, still one of the best books about “the most dangerous man alive.” This astonishing book lays bare the life and the mind of a man whose acts have left us horrified. His story provides an enormous amount of information about his life and how it led to the Tate-LaBianca murders, and reminds us of the complexity of the human condition. Born in the middle of the Depression to an unmarried fifteen-year-old, Manson lived through a bewildering succession of changing homes and substitute parents. Regimented and often brutalized in juvenile homes, Manson became immersed in a life of petty theft, pimping, jail terms, and court appearances that culminated in seven years of prison. Released in 1967, he suddenly found himself in the world of hippies and flower children, a world that not only accepted him, but even glorified his anti-establishment values.
Manson’s story, distilled from seven years of interviews and examinations of his correspondence, provides sobering insight into the making of a criminal mind, and a fascinating picture of the last years of the sixties. No one who wants to understand that time, and the man who helped to bring it to a horrifying conclusion, can miss reading this book.
The Family was originally published in 1971 and remains the most meticulously researched account of the most notorious murders of the 1960s.
Using firsthand accounts from some of the family’s infamous members, including the wizard himself, Sanders examines not only the origins and legacy of Manson and his family, but also the mysteries that persist. Completely revised and updated, this edition features 25 harrowing black and white photos from the investigation.
“One of the best-researched, best-written, thoroughly-constructed, and eminently significant books of our times…. A masterpiece.”—Boston Phoenix
BIOGRAFIES & MEMOIRS
Published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster, Manson by Jeff Guinn is the most authoritative account of the life of the leader of the Helter Skelter, filled with surprising new information and previously unpublished photographs
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 near the scene of the crime was spared.
Restless Souls is the true, bone-chilling chronicle of the Manson Family murders and its aftermath, from the point of view of the victims’ families.
This true crime memoir by Alisa Statman, a 20-year Tate family friend, and Brie Tate, the daughter of Sharon Tate’s niece, includes interviews with the Tate family, accounts from personal letters, tape recordings, home movies, and private diaries.
Complete with color photographs and personal insights, Restless Souls is the most revealing, riveting, and emotionally raw account of the gruesome slayings, the hunt and capture of the killers, and the behind-the-scenes drama of their trials, as well as a touching view of the torment that the victims families’ have endured for years after such tragedy.
BIOGRAFIES & MEMOIRS from MEMBERS OF THE HELTER SKELTER CULT
Susan Atkins was young and attractive, but desperate to find happiness. Alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity didn’t satisfy her. She was looking for more.
When she met Charles Manson, she felt she had met the world’s savior. In prison, Ms. Atkins became a born-again Christian in 1974, she wrote in her memoir, “Child of Satan, Child of God” (with Bob Slosser). Here is her personal account of life and death with the murderous Manson “family.”
Available on Amazon.com : Hardcover
“Will you die for me?” asked Manson. Once all-American hometown boy, Charles “Tex” Watson answered “Yes” and thus became hopelessly caught in the dizzying downward spiral into the manson family and into the brutal role of Helter Skelter executioner.
Published in 1978, Will You Die For Me? is Tex Watson‘s personal account of the life with Manson; the drug abuse, the sex addiction and the violence that took him on the verge of insanity.
In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the 20th century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his ‘girls’. Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.
“Creepy crawling” was the Manson Family’s practice of secretly entering someone’s home and, without harming anyone, leaving only a trace of evidence that they had been there, some reminder that the sanctity of the private home had been breached.
Now, author Jeffrey Melnick reveals just how much the Family creepy crawled their way through Los Angeles in the sixties and then on through American social, political, and cultural life for close to fifty years, firmly lodging themselves in our minds. Even now, it is almost impossible to discuss the sixties, teenage runaways, sexuality, drugs, music, California, and even the concept of family without referencing Manson and his “girls.” Not just another history of Charles Manson, Creepy Crawling explores how the Family weren’t so much outsiders but emblematic of the Los Angeles counterculture freak scene, and how Manson worked to connect himself to the mainstream of the time.
In the summer of 1969, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel carried out horrific acts of butchery on the orders of the charismatic cult leader Charles Manson. At their murder trial the following year, lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi described the two so-called Manson Women as “human monsters.” But to anyone who knew them growing up, they were bright, promising girls, seemingly incapable of such an unfathomable crime.
Award-winning journalist Nikki Meredith began visiting Van Houten and Krenwinkel in prison to discover how they had changed during their incarceration. The more Meredith got to know them, the more she was lured into a deeper dilemma: What compels “normal” people to do unspeakable things?
The author’s relationship with her subjects provides a chilling lens through which we gain insight into a particular kind of woman capable of a particular kind of brutality. Through their stories, Nikki Meredith takes readers on a dark journey into the very heart of evil.