I ordinarily steer clear of true-crime books, but I made an exception in the case of Jeff Guinn‘s “Manson,” the new biography of Charles Manson, the cult leader who manipulated his followers into committing the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, a terrible bookend to the freewheeling 1960s.
This meticulously documented book by Guinn, a former book editor for a Texas newspaper who turned to writing nonfiction books, reveals many things, including Manson’s dismal upbringing and his many convictions and the jail time he served (including a stint at Washington’s McNeil Island prison when it was a federal penitentiary). Guinn brings home just how easy it was to shed your past in those days – Manson read voraciously in prison (including books by Dale Carnegie) and once he was freed he submerged his ex-con identity, becoming a cult leader who preyed on young women and preached philosophy to his adherents while goading them to increasingly terrible crimes.
Guinn discusses his book tonight on “Well Read,” the books and authors television show on state public affairs network TVW (comcast channel 23 in Seattle). The program airs at 7 and 10 p.m. tonight. Or you can watch it here:
For more information, here’s a review.