The violence wrought by the Manson family continues to hold our imagination. There's something about the confluence of evil, pop culture (the best known of the group's victims was beautiful blond movie star Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant) and the politics of the late '60s that feeds our sneaking fascination with horror. And then there are the layers of symbolic meaning behind the Manson family's actions. The '60s rebellion was sparked by an immoral war, but the emotional fuel came from the stifling conformity of the '50s, when eccentricity, political unorthodoxy and sexuality were rigidly suppressed. It wasn't surprising that a younger generation would challenge every prohibition and experiment with drugs, sex, alternative economic institutions and communal living. But if the virtues of the decade were encapsulated in the image of a long-haired girl placing a blossom in a National Guardsman's gun (a photograph that was said to have electrified Russian dissidents with its innocence and beauty), the blood-drenched world of Charlie Manson and his followers revealed the decade's other side. While the right seized on the Manson murders to discredit the entire anti-war movement, there were misguided souls in some sectors of the left who lauded the bloodletting as an act of... More >>>