A compulsively readable account of a murderer who continues to fascinate.

MANSON

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CHARLES MANSON

Guinn (The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral—and How It Changed the American West, 2011, etc.) paints a striking, full-length portrait of one of American history’s most notorious sociopaths.

By 1967, 32-year-old Charles Manson had spent more than half his life in reform schools, jails and prison. Released onto the streets of San Francisco during the Summer of Love, armed with a practiced street rap—a mishmash of Bible verses, Dale Carnegie quotations, Scientology precepts and rock-’n’-roll lyrics—a philosophy of free love and even freer drugs and crude psychological insights gleaned from fellow pimps and con men, the petty hustler attracted a small following among the city’s naïve, confused youth. Moving his “Family” to Los Angeles in pursuit of a music career, Manson tightened his hold on his followers and led them in increasingly bizarre escapades that culminated in several murders, most infamously the Tate-LaBianca killings, designed to kick off “Helter Skelter,” a race war that would end with the Family ruling the world. Guinn takes readers on a head-spinning ride through Manson’s deeply disturbed childhood, his criminal career and his brief tenure as satanic guru to the damaged disciples, mostly women, he held in thrall. Against the backdrop of the roiling ’60s, the author offers inside information on life within the cult, miniportraits of its various members, and stories about the dope dealers, rock musicians, motorcycle gang members, Hollywood glitterati, record-industry honchos and hangers-on who brushed up against the Family. He concludes by effortlessly unpacking the murders, the manhunt and the trial that riveted the nation. Spared the gas chamber by California’s abolition of the death penalty, Manson remains incarcerated. A handful of deluded supporters maintain a Facebook page devoted to proving his innocence and to spreading his environmental rants.

A compulsively readable account of a murderer who continues to fascinate.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4516-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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