The Family
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The Family

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,320 ratings  ·  70 reviews
In August of 1969, during two bloody evenings of paranoid, psychedelic savagery, Charles Manson and his dystopic communal family helped to wreck the dreams of the Love Generation. At least nine people were murdered, among them Sharon Tate, the young, beautiful, pregnant, actress and wife of Roman Polanski. Ed Sanders' unnerving and detailed look at the horror dealt by Mans...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published November 8th 2002 by Da Capo Press (first published 1971)
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The Manson File by Nikolas SchreckHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Family by Ed SandersManson in His Own Words by Charles MansonThe Manson File by Nikolas Schreck
Charles Manson
3rd out of 34 books — 28 voters
1984 by George OrwellThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerAnimal Farm by George OrwellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Cult Classics
171st out of 354 books — 599 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sanders has the information. Being an expert is the only reason he could get away with this total turd of a book. His writing alternates between unengaging and annoying, bogged down with over-worded sentences and his horrible hippie slang. On top of that you get his constant stabs at being clever. For instance, he'll say something like 'Manson and some other Caucasians' did something or other. It's, of course, superfluous to mention that since Manson was a white supremacist and the other Caucasi...more
this book is awesome in a teenage boy who's really into death metal and smokes pot all day kind of way. also, if you're into group dynamics, the occult, California as alternate universe, or really amazing hippie slang.
My brother and I both loved this book......we inherited an obsession of famous killers from our mom...morbid huh? We find them fascinating they can do what they do and what makes them do what they do......
Erik Graff
Jan 24, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sanders/Manson fans
Recommended to Erik by: John Elkin
Shelves: history
I found this book at some used bookstore and gave it to my roommate, known for his interest in the bizarre. Then, months later, wanting something lighter than another reworked, Cambridge-published dissertation to read, I asked him for some recommendations. This book came up and was sitting on the dining room table the next day for my delectation.

I first heard of Ed Sanders early in high school when the local "fine arts station" played music by his band, The Fugs, on their Saturday night program,...more
Ed Sanders (ex-Fug, leader of the counterculture, circa '67, according to Life magazine) should be commended for the kitchen sink approach he takes to his subject. He includes every unanswered question, rumor and crackpot conspiracy theory related to Manson, his accomplices and their crimes. He ties both Manson and the Tate-LaBianca victims to a celebrity studded "sado-maso club run out of Mama Cass's house," infamous for ritually torturing a drug dealer who ripped them off. He does his best to...more
Another paperback pilfered from my mother. Bugliosi's HELTER SKELTER is a more authoritative book, but for the pure feel of how freaky the world felt in 69/70, Sanders' voice is quintessential. There's a sarcasm to the style that makes the narrative much more disturbing than the true-life crime accounts. When I thumbed through this not long ago, I happened upon such a bizarre passage about the relationship between Charlie and a minister named Moorehouse who basically pimped his 14-year old over...more
Dec 19, 2008 Nate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
Sanders, the founder of avant-folk group the Fugs and the future mayor of Woodstock, N.Y., wrote a cynical hippie's take on Manson. Ironically its much more sober and restrained than prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's take in Helter Skelter.
Sanders not only understood the music and hipster scenes of LA and SF that Manson tried and failed to make it in; he also investigated and documented the truly scary world of LA occultism in the 1960's. The Manson Family was just the most hard-scrabble and violen...more
Sanders prose in this is so very strange, he maintains a tone that somehow manages to be mocking, goofy, indignant, salacious and prudish all at the same time, the last of which is particularly strange coming from a former member of the Fugs. I guess because he went into this thinking that Manson was set up by the establishment and found out the opposite it really threw him for a loop. He was definitely spooked by his investigation, finding satanists hiding behind every bush in California. Hunt...more
This is a great book for me to read now that I'm living in Los Angeles and it's the best book on the Manson fam. Sanders unravels this grim tale and manages to pull a lot of humour out of his investigation.
Caitlin Constantine
I can only describe this book as "uneven." This book was painful to read at some times (and not because of the content, although that was squirm-inducing, too) but was easy to read at other times. There were times I couldn't put the book down, then other times when I couldn't read a page without nodding off.

Sanders is a talented writer, and came up with some great pieces of slang that had a sort of Beat-vibe to them, befitting a man who ran around California in the late 60s as a poet and a musi...more
My introduction to Ed Sanders was “The Illiad”, from his Sander’s Truckstop LP. Man, that’s a funny song. Anyway, knowing a little about the guy and having listened to some Fugs here and there, I thought a Manson book by the guy would have to be good.

It is. Sanders recounts the tale of the Family in such a way that the real horror of their actions is underlined sharply yet without melodrama. I don’t think I’ve read Bugliosi’s book but I would imagine, coming from an attorney, it’s pretty cut and...more
The Family may be the most poorly-written book I have ever read. (Stephenie Meyer, you are redeemed!) Ed Sanders takes great pains in the introduction to tell the reader exactly how much research he did in compiling the book. He interviewed hundreds of people! He took innumerable notes!

Unfortunately, what Sanders apparently failed to do was shape these notes into a readable narrative. The book careens haphazardly from one topic to another – and much of what is described relates only loosely the...more
Inanna Arthen
I read this back when it was quite new, and have been reviewing it recently as part of research for my third novel. I appreciate it more now than I did originally, and Ed Sanders' recent memoir, *Fug You,* adds some clarity to his perspective. I'm dubious now, as I was then, about the credibility of the witnesses who told him some of the more lurid "cult" stories. Many of these I recognize as contributing to the 80s Satanic Ritual Abuse hysteria which was entirely debunked after wasting millions...more
Feb 12, 2008 Phil rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fugs Fans
I loved the original edition of this book. I had spent some time as a wandering hippie in California and this book captures the feeling amazingly well. The later, revised edition is far inferior to the original. Sanders, older and wiser, tries to be a journalist instead of a storyteller/poet and the book suffers. If you care about the facts read Bugliosi's book, if you want to wallow in the counter-culture this book is for you. The story follows Charlie the parolee as he inserts himself into the...more
Phil Overeem
The book to end all books on Manson, written with great humor, sadness, horror, and--of course--poetry by a counter-culture icon from Independence, Missouri, the founder of the Fugs, and publisher of much wonderful verse, Ed Sanders. Blows HELTER SKELTER out of the water with both hands tied behind his back, with ten times the insight. Meticulously researched--and Sanders had access to (what he would call) creepy-crawly portals to the hippie netherworld Bugliosi didn't even know about. A great,...more
William Marshall
Having read a good half dozen books on the MANSON case this remains my favorite in fact my 1st edition copy is one of my favorite books I'd recommend anyone looking to read this book go on Ebay and buy a 1st edition copy which can usually be found in the $20 dollar range Later editions had a major chapter pertaining to The Process Church of Final Judgement removed do to a lawsuit brought against Sanders the author
Boils Manson down to basically a pusher looking to frame other pushers so he could take over the trade. All occult/satan stuff severely downplayed. Couldn't make things less interesting if it tried. But accurate, I guess. Yawn?
With Manson's magic sword and dune buggy brigade he led his goon-hippies to the Hole. 1969 must have truly been the strangest time in American history. Ed Sanders gives you a slice of it.
Matthew W
A fun read written by a hippie about the ultimate anti-hippie and his "family." Pure degenerate Americana.
Karah Russell
crazy, twisted and interesting. a deep step into not just Manson but his followers as well!

When I was nine, during the trial, Manson jokes had achieved the critical mass of having their own formula. I remember kids at baseball practice telling jokes that involved the Black Panthers, dune buggies, and race war, and that very much sided with Manson's fantasy of surviving race war with the Panthers by going underneath ground, in a midwestern cave system analogous to Goler Wash and Death Valley.

Ed Sanders got caught up in the hippie countercultural ugliness, and this book is a far from ne

Emily, a Book and a Cat
Concept/Ideas: 5/5
Writing Style: 4/5

Whoa, whoa whoa. Thank you Ed Sanders for writing this book.

If you know me, I'm a huge Manson researcher. I am very interested in Charles Manson, his family, and how it all came to be, and played out. You could almost call me a 'Manson Expert'. If you also know me, you'd know that I am an advocate for the parole of Leslie Van Houten, a family member, who in my opinion, should no longer be in jail. Oh, but I could go on about that. Let's stick to the book!

Lee Anne
A classic in the Manson cannon that I'd somehow not read until now. Actually, that's not entirely true: some 25 years ago, when I was in college, I borrowed a book from the OSU library that talked about Charles Manson from the point of view of a dune buggy war. It was a boring book, and I didn't finish it. I remembered it early on while reading this current book, only to do some quick online searching and find out that this book and that are one and the same, with at least two revisions since th...more
I saw a clip of Ed Sanders on some cable documentary about a recent search for potential Manson Family victims out at Barker Ranch. I had read "Helter Skelter", by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, about 20 years earlier and the book scared the crap out of me. I'm not a Manson afficianado or anything, but I knew Ed Sanders as the co-founder of the mid-60s New York group The Fugs and so was drawn to checking out "The Family". What makes the book so worth reading is the very thorough research that Sand...more
David Ward
The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion by Ed Sanders (E.P. Dutton and Co., Inc. 1971) (HV 6248.M2797S25)is a must-read for anyone interested in the Manson Family. This book is sort of the flip-side of Vincent Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter". Bugliosi's book is generally thought of as the definitive story on the family and the slayings (horrible ritual slayings in LA in 1969) by the "Manson Family," an acid-drenched cult of personality made up largely (but not exclusive...more
Andrew Arbow
This book is utter crap written by an acid fried hippie. The book has little cohesion and goes off on long tangents on bullshit cults that may or may not have been associated with the Manson family. Also it mentions a parole hearing Manson had about a stolen car that took place on February 29th, 1959. 1959 was not a leap year. I'm surprised that this book ever got published let alone be considered the most comprehensive book after Helter Skelter on the Manson murders. This book is garbage
Barron Leland
I feel this was and still is one of the best books on Manson and his Family. Sanders knows how to write in such a way as to be entertaining and yet at the same time giving a real vibe for what was happening. It covers the full spectrum of events. I have read this book about 6 times. It is a great read for sure.
Rafi Snowden
Read this many years ago. It's a haunting story. You can see how basically good kids can go way wrong.

It's fascinating, but I don't recommend reading it if you're prone to nightmares.

not well written but very entertaining. uses the word "gobble" with unlikely frequency!
Marilyn Moreau
Should be read In conjunction with Bugliosi's Helter Skelter.
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Ed Sanders is an American poet, singer, social activist, environmentalist, author and publisher. He has been called a bridge between the Beat and Hippie generations.

Sanders was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He dropped out of Missouri University in 1958 and hitchhiked to New York City’s Greenwich Village. He wrote his first major poem, "Poem from Jail," on toilet paper in his cell after being jail...more
More about Ed Sanders...
Tales of Beatnik Glory Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side 1968 The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg America: A History in Verse, Vol 3: 1962-1970

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