Though Charles Manson has been in prison for more than forty years, the gruesome murders that he instructed his cult-like commune to commit still haunt the American psyche. Jeff Guinn’s new book, Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, offers fresh insight into the criminal sociopath’s mind gleaned through interviews with sources such as Manson’s sister and cousin, as well as members of the Manson Family.
“The shocking thing is that everything Charles Manson was doing in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1960s, he was already doing even as a small child in McMechen, West Virginia, including organizing girls to beat up a boy he didn’t like and then telling the principal, ‘It’s not my fault; the girls were doing what they wanted,’” says Guinn. “That’s the same defense he would use all those years later for the Tate-LaBianca murders. He was never crazy. He was always a cold, calculating sociopath, and he was doing these things even when he was five years old.”
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Guinn says his book is unusual because it explores the era in which Manson lived as well as the life he led. Manson looks at the cultural climate of the late ’60s and assesses how it created an atmosphere in which someone like Manson could manipulate wayward youth. “There were many disenfranchised young people who were migrating to California hoping to find some guru, someone who would tell them what to do and make sense of all the craziness around them,” explains Guinn. “Manson took full advantage of that.” Guinn will read from his book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street. For more information, visit tatteredcover.com.
Thu., Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m., 2013