Hunting Charles Manson Book Review - Shocking True Crime Resonates

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Hunting Charles Manson, from Thomas Nelson Publisher and Lisa Wiehl, presents the true crime story of Charles Manson, his followers, the shocking murders the group committed terrorizing residents of Los Angeles during the summer of 1969.

The book begins with a fresh perspective, detailing the early troubled life of cult leader Charles Manson. Troubled and from a broken home, with the advances in childhood psychology its easy to understand the mental issues as his hoem life left much to be desired unlike many of the owmen he preyed upon he was uneducated, unrefined and uncultured.

The book chronicles Manson rise from troubled youth, small time petty criminal, felon, musician, parolee, pimp, con man, preacher, drug dealer, cult leader, and ultimately murderer.


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In the summer of 1967 after years of living in various state sponsored programs, a thin, and effeminate young man made his way west. His life of youth offender giving way to adult criminal and after having spent a decade in prison he was released.

It was 1967, the height of the psychedelic, free love, shimmery explosions of color '60's and Manson found he had the ability to influence and control women.

Soon he had collected a few women, who at first found it difficult to share him all living under the same roof, and then a few minutes with him and he would convince them of their position in his mind and confident the others would evidentially be tossed they stayed.

Manson moved his group to Los Angeles and the indoctrination of the Manson group as the public knows it began. Using a old Western film set, Spahn Ranch as its home base, Manson was able to gather the lost souls of the 1960’s and after racialization techniques and total ostracizing from media, friends, family and any competing source of information, his followers believed this message was of a divine nature. That he alone had the power to keep them from the coming wars. To enforce this doctrine, he worked them during the day and had them prepare for their safety against the coming apocalypse.

Manson who had a light brush with fame had receved polite replies to his music, by Terry Melcher, the producer for The Beach Boys, and son of actress Doris Day, which embedded so deeply in his psyche that when desperation set itself upon him, his violent past surfaced. Nothing and no one would stop him from finally having the fame he deserved.

Fed the message 24/7 soon Manson was able to introduce more heinous methods of dealing with those who he felt robbed him or represented the establishment. The killing teams, and maybe all cult inductees, attended stabbing classes to ensure that if called on for a night raid, they would be able to complete the task.

The evidence of the success of his indoctrination and programming is clear.

At 318 pages, the book is divided into thirty-six chapters and offers many insightful and interesting details and indictments: The shoddy work of the Los Angeles Police Department during the discovery of the massacre at 10050 Cielo Drive resident as they failed to preserve the scene, and understandably many procedures were not in place at time. Repositioning evidence, obliterating possible clear fingerprints, and operating a near circus style atmosphere with more jockeying for authority than concern or care for the bloody butchery that greeted them at the home of Director Roman Polanski.


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The brutality of the murder scenes, one would have thought would have been an immediate red flag or at minimum departmental sensors raised and in pre-computer and dot com speed days, interdepartmental notification within a judicial system the size of California wasn’t a part of procedure. 

Wiehl, a former federal prosector, left out no detail from the crimes, investigation, capture, extridition, trial and sentencing. She has even included details of the days before Manson death.

Hunting Charles Manson, a story mixing celebrity, the mystic of Los Angeles and the unfathomable, drops many names of well known talent, and their children bringing a type of fan craze to the thoroughly researched and well presented pages. 

Wiehl enlisted the assistance of investigator reporter and bestselling crime novelist, Caitlin Rother, who spent countless hours researching, digging through archives, and gathering even the most minute detail.

The violence inflicted by Manson and his followers didn’t stop with the torture and brutal slaughter of those he and his followers murdered, the violence remains even today, and until the lifelines of each of these people are gone, and with the mixing of celebrity, these crimes will never fade to black, forever lost, names forgotten, in the annals of the LAPD.

Hunting Charles Manson, The Quest for Justice in the Days of Helter Skelter, a shocking, unbelievable, true crime page turner. It is available at bookstores and online.

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