Charles Manson: charismatic cult leader, deadly murder mastermind, noted book subject? If you’re completely fascinated by Manson, have no fear — there are books upon books out there chronicling every detail of the infamous criminal and his murderous cult, aka “The Family.” Whether you’re interested in hearing directly from a Manson girl herself about what happened in the summer of 1969, or want to dissect Manson’s disturbing childhood to understand his psychology, or simply need to learn the twisted story of the Manson Family for the first time, these are the books you need to add to your library shelf, stat.
The Manson Women And Me: Monsters, Morality and Murder by Nikki Meredith
Of course, Manson himself never murdered anyone: He convinced members of his cult to do so. Nikki Meredith interviews two of the girls who were eager to murder for Manson and ended up behind bars. Get a peek into Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel’s psyche then and now.
Member of the Family by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman
Not all of the Manson girls were willing to kill for him — some were willing to send him to prison for good. Former Family member Dianne Lake tells her own story of becoming entranced by Manson, before eventually breaking away and testifying against him in court.
Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson by James Buddy Day
Get a glimpse into the fateful summer when Manson unleashed his followers on California. This book delves into the Manson Family’s murders, the motivations behind them, and the eventual consequences.
Details of the Family’s horrific murders have been widely spread, seared into the nation’s consciousness. Less known? The many months it took to solve the crimes and capture Manson and his cult members. This book dives into how the murders were ultimately solved and how Manson and his associates were put away for life.
So, the motive for Charles Manson was to start a race war, right? Helter Skelter and all that? Not so fast, warns author Tom O’Neill. O’Neill spent decades investigating the murders, and he claims he’s found holes in the “official story” — and that cover-ups and lies are afoot.
The Girls: A Novel by Emma Cline
Manson hasn’t just inspired multiple non-fiction books, he’s also inspired authors of fiction, too. In this novel, a young teen still trying to find herself in the 1960s becomes infatuated with a group of girls — and unwittingly falls into a cult. Though fiction, this book evokes the legacy of the Manson girls and describes what it would be like to fall under Manson’s spell.
Will You Die For Me? The Man Who Killed For Charles Manson Tells His Own Story by Charles “Tex” Watson
We hear so often about Manson girls, we forget there were also men devoted to Manson — men devoted enough to murder. Charles “Tex” Watson is now spending life in prison for his roles in the murders. He wrote this book to explain why he was so enthralled by Manson and describe his own religious conversion in prison.
Manson: The Life And Times Of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn
So, who exactly is Manson anyway? The enigmatic figure’s past has remained mostly shrouded, but Jeff Guinn’s book manages to track down both his sister and cousin to give a fuller picture of Manson’s childhood and personality. If you’re looking to get a real biography of Manson, this is the book for you.
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi
Described as the #1 true crime bestseller of all time with millions of copies sold, “Helter Skelter” is often regarded as the definitive Manson Family book. Vincent Bugliosi, the lead prosecutor in Manson’s case, wrote this book to give his account of both Manson’s deadly crimes and the inner workings of the trial.
Manson’s Girl: The True Story Of Squeaky Fromme by Chad Trotter
Maybe it was the unusual nickname, maybe it’s her unwavering devotion to Manson to this day, which climaxed with a presidential assassination attempt. Either way, Squeaky Fromme has remained one of the most memorable Manson girls, despite not partaking in any of the murders, and this book tells the story of how Fromme became one of Manson’s most devoted followers.
Get all your true crime news from Oxygen. Coverage of the latest true crime stories and famous cases explained, as well as the best TV shows, movies and podcasts in the genre. And don't miss our own podcast, Martinis & Murder!