Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

14 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 17½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470376499. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. BIOG
True crime aficionados will welcome this well-written and well-read account of the 1969 Manson murders, especially since there aren't as many books about the topic as one might expect. Listeners get more background on Manson's childhood than in Vincent Bugliosi's classic Helter Skelter, and Guinn (Go Down Together) focuses on Manson's eagerness to get a recording contract (it seems that in Guinn's view, the whole "inciting a race war" thing played second fiddle to Manson's musical ambitions). Particularly evocative are Guinn's depictions of Manson's predatory presence in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury area during the Summer of Love, which was the genesis of his "family." Listeners truly get a sense of the aspirations of those traveling to San Francisco (peace and free love) and the reality (frequent rape, filth, and eating from dumpsters). Jim Frangione's unobtrusive narration carries the compelling story forward.
VERDICT Recommended.

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