Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family

Arcade: Skyhorse. Jul. 2018. 352p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781628728934. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781628728941. CRIME
Melnick (U.S. culture, Univ. of Massachusetts Boston) delves into the cultural impact Charles Manson and his Family had on the United States, specifically in the 1970s, but also their lasting influence. Melnick divides the book into four parts—looking at how they twisted the definition of family, how California was seen after the murders, how true crime writing changed, and how members of Manson's circle endured through art. While the author does a good job recreating 1970s California and how the murders were a part of the cultural change from peace and love to fear and violence, each part works better as a separate essay than combined in a single work. This is most noticeable at the end, in which there's no conclusion that puts the pieces together for readers. Despite this, each part has a lot to say, leaving details of the murders to previous books and instead focusing on the relationships between Manson and his followers with some of the Hollywood members (aka Golden Penetrators).
VERDICT This work succeeds in showing how this group embedded itself into the cultural conscious in a way that persists today. For readers interested in 1970s American culture and true crime.
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