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The Family

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,939 Ratings  ·  92 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 MansonSharon Tate and the Manson Murders by Greg King
Charles Manson
36 books — 34 voters
1984 by George OrwellThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerAnimal Farm by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Cult Classics
592 books — 847 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sep 02, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 13, 2011 Craven rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2008 Kirk rated it really liked it
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
Erik Graff
Jun 10, 2011 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  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,
Jan 10, 2008 John rated it it was ok
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
Apr 03, 2008 Holli rated it it was amazing
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......
David Ward
The Family (published 2002) fka The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion by Ed Sanders (E.P. Dutton and Co., Inc. 1971) (301.4494) 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 murders (horrible ritual slayings in LA in 1969) by the "Manson Family," an acid-drenched cult of personality made up larg ...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
Caitlin Constantine
Jan 23, 2010 Caitlin Constantine rated it it was ok
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
Dec 19, 2008 Nate rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 14, 2008 William rated it really liked it
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
Thomas Strömquist
"I did read Bugliosi's Helter Skelter some time ago, so this is the second and decidedly last book I need to read on the subject. If you haven't read any, go with Helter Skelter, this one is written in an almost unreadable kind of spoken narrative prose, with most grammar rules thrown aside, annoying expressions and an enormus amount of errors. The 'unique' revelations of the book are either unbelievable, incoherent, incomplete, uninteresting or all of those. Got the idea to read about Roman Pol ...more
Rebecca McNutt
The Family is probably one of the most informative books to come along on this tragic and horrific case since Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. It includes full color photographs, testimonies from various people involved in the case and the psychology of the crimes and what drove a gang of hippies to commit them.
Nov 22, 2014 Lisa added it
Shelves: 2014
Nope. I enjoyed Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi when I read it years ago but this was poorly written. I hated Ed Sanders writing style. He kept writing the most ridiculous things. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you want to read everything to do with the Manson murders.
Jul 30, 2011 Oakley rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Jeff Suwak
Aug 25, 2016 Jeff Suwak rated it it was amazing
Understanding the Manson Family (if that's possible) requires a lot more than an examination of the events. To really "get" it, a person has to put themselves in the context of the era in which the family grew, devolved, and then entered infamy as murderers. No book on the Manson saga does this better than Ed Sanders' The Family.

Sanders' research was done as an insider. As such, much, if not most, of the information in the book is not cited in any kind of serious, academic or even journalistic w
Jeff Buddle
Sep 29, 2016 Jeff Buddle rated it liked it
Oh dude, this book is a total mess. At times Ed Sanders is just transcribing his notes. It's a tedious affair. Sanders documents everything, I mean EVERYTHING. It's just that he had more access to EVERYTHING and EVERYONE than anybody else. He connects the Manson Family to satanists, to scientology, to all the California cults flourishing deep underneath the Beach Boys image of SoCal. Did I mention that Manson hung out with Dennis Wilson and that the B-boys cut one of his tracks as a b-side?

East Bay J
Apr 19, 2009 East Bay J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios-and-memoirs
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
Inanna Arthen
Feb 28, 2012 Inanna Arthen rated it really liked it
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
Dec 23, 2016 Laurie rated it really liked it
I was seventeen and living in L.A. when the Manson murders happened, so revisiting this book which I read back then was a walk down memory lane (or Reseda Boulevard). Sanders has a unique style, almost ESL, which takes us into the evil empire of Charles Manson. It is discouraging how many young women were lured into his cult, as well as many young men. Recently, the novel "The Girls" went over the same bloody ground, but in a rather superficial way that minimized the evil that these lost souls p ...more
Phil Overeem
Feb 21, 2008 Phil Overeem rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 12, 2008 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  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
William Marshall
Nov 24, 2012 William Marshall rated it really liked it
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
Andrew Arbow
Aug 03, 2014 Andrew Arbow rated it did not like it
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
Donna Humble
Jan 09, 2013 Donna Humble rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime
Although this book had a lot of information it seemed to have been written by more than 1 person. The writing style was uneven and at times boring. In my opinion, taking a little extra time to edit and create a smoother flow to the material would have turned this book into a good read instead of ok.
Jun 16, 2008 Michael rated it it was ok
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?
Jan 11, 2009 Roy marked it as to-read
Considered the key critical (detailed) study of the Manson Family. I'm interested in the need for a community and culture experienced by these kids and how these needs played out in the mayhem they joined with seemingly so readily.
Matthew W
Sep 11, 2009 Matthew W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fun read written by a hippie about the ultimate anti-hippie and his "family." Pure degenerate Americana.
Jessica White
Sep 03, 2013 Jessica White rated it it was ok
If you like looooong drawn out things that you probably already knew about the case, then this is the book for you.
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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
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