The Manson Women and Me

The Manson Women and Me

Monsters, Morality, and Murder

Book - 2019
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In 1969, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel carried out horrific acts of butchery on the orders of cult leader Charles Manson. At their murder trial, the lead prosecutor described them as 'human monsters.' But to anyone who knew them growing up, they were bright, promising girls, seemingly incapable of such an crime. Award-winning journalist Nikki Meredith began visiting them in prison to discover how they had changed during their incarceration. The more Meredith got to know them, the more she was lured into a deeper dilemma: What compels 'normal' people to do unspeakable things?
Publisher: New York, NY : Citadel Press, Kensington Publishing Corp., 2019.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780806538594
Characteristics: xiv, 351 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations (some colour) ;,22 cm.


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May 14, 2018

Decades on, the story of the Manson murders continues to horrify and fascinate us, underscored by the lingering, disturbing question of how seemingly average middle class kids could be convinced to commit brutal murders with nary any remorse. Part memoir, part psychological study, this work is the author's attempt to gain insight into that question. Meredith explores the psychology of "us vs. them" as developed under groups such as the Nazis and the People's Temple, sharing her own personal experiences with exclusion and hate based on her Jewish heritage. Over time, she develops a relationship with Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, talking with them over a period of years as they serve out their prison sentences. It goes without saying that Meredith's personal experiences would color her perceptions as she attempts to gain understanding, but as a reader, I found that the format of jumping back and forth from her discussions with Leslie and Pat to sharing upsetting experiences from her own youth was more distracting than illuminating. At times it was like reading two different books. Over time Meredith gains sympathy for the people that Leslie and Pat have grown into, while still struggling to comprehend how they made the choices they did that led them to prison.

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