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The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,057 ratings  ·  171 reviews
In the summer of 1969, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel carried out horrific acts of butchery on the orders of the charismatic cult leader Charles Manson. At their murder trial the following year, lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi described the two so-called Manson Women as "human monsters." But to anyone who knew them growing up, they were bright, promising girls, ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 27th 2018 by Citadel Press
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Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018-read, usa
This book is severely lacking focus: Although it is marketed as being a current portrait of Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, it is in fact a memoir of Nikki Meredith that contains parts in which she talks to the aforementioned women and some of their relatives. I guess that Meredith's basic question was how these women were able to commit such heinous crimes, but instead of taking a journalistic or research-based approach, she chooses to a) radically relate all incidents to her own lif ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars.
As a child I had a fascination with the Manson killings. I read at a very early age and I used to steal my older brother’s books to read at night when I should have been asleep (then hid the books under my mattress). One of the books I should NOT have read was Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter. Understandably, I was plagued by nightmares that baffled my parents. On the news, I remember seeing the girls with their bald heads and carvings on their foreheads. The Manson Girls and Me: Mon
*TUDOR^QUEEN* (on hiatus)
Thank you to the publisher Kensington Books who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

This book focuses primarily on Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, members of the notorious Manson family imprisoned since the 1970s involving the Sharon Tate and LaBianca murders in LA. While author Nikki Meredith also interviewed former Manson member Tex Watson in prison, she established a twenty-year relationship visiting Van Houten and Krenwinkel at the Frontera prison where they both are inm
Valerity (Val)
Journalist Nikki Meredith spent more than twenty years getting to know Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten and takes a deep dive into studying how they became involved with Charles Manson. She does a very involved look at what it takes to get to the point that they were at when they committed the murders while getting to know them during repeated visits over the years.

She also interviews other people in their lives, past and present. A very interesting book that looks at how they have been
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted this one to work for me but sadly it did not and here is why. There is no doubt that Nikki Meredith has a strong obsession with the Manson Murders, but where this book fell flat for me is its complete failure to divulge into the psyche of Charles Manson or that of the two women. In fact, Nikki Meredith’s telling seems to be more geared towards her outlook, her personal history, her experiences with the women that made up a part of Manson’s following, her fascination and perspective of M ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

It is evident that a lot of time and research went into creating this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed parts of it. I haven’t read Helter Skelter, and I only have minimal knowledge about the Manson Family, so I went into this book a little blind. The author does a good job of covering the facts needed for this book, and I think she succeeded at making some insights into Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel’s involvement. I don’t know if it was her goal to spark sympathy for these wom
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
The history of Charles Manson and the pure evil and terror that followed in the Tate-LaBianca murder’s that altered the peaceful social fabric of the U.S. in August 1969. The knowledge that innocent people were slaughtered without a reason or motive; horrified the nation. Nikki Meredith revisited the Manson crime in her book: “Monsters, Morality and Murder: The Manson Women and Me”. Meredith articulated on the reasons these crimes occurred, and the impact of evil related to the Holocaust and oth ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
A more apt title for this book would be Me, and oh by the way I mention the Manson Women Murderers ...

This book meanders all over the place and I'm not sure what comparisons, if any, the author attempted to draw from sharing her life experience/background with the two women - Krenwinkel and Van Houten other than to publish a book that advocates parole for Leslie Van Houten. If the comparison was that Mason was equivalent to Hitler in convincing people to carry out his orders, then again ... so
Mar 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
There's not a lot of new information on the Manson family (or Manson Women) contained in this book and for some reason the author has rambled on, jumping from decade to decade without much rhyme or reason. It's the 90s, then it's 2001 and then it's 1940 something and I am left wondering why I need to know that the author was having dreams about Hitler unless that somehow fits in with the ties they want to show that the Tate/ Labianca murders had something to do with being Jewish. I'm also not en ...more
Keith Chawgo
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nikki Meredith’s personal experiences and relationships with Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten is a fascinating and in depth dealing with understanding and empathy. The book is not a sensationalised account of two murderers and a journalist hoping to find an angle that will push this further. What we have is a book that is thought provoking and raises questions on the human spirit and asks can a person change from their early self.

Meredith has a very interesting writing style that delves
May 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
Meandering, specious and lacking perception. I was hoping to find an insightful exploration of why America's daughters became monsters. This book is not this. The writer tries to involve her own personal narrative into the story of these women, but it come across as facile and shallow. There were times I rolled my eyes. After awhile, I started to skim hoping to find something. Yes, there were bits and pieces, but overall the book is pointless, disorganized and adds little to a crime that subvert ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
It can be said that the Manson Family murders killed the 60’s. I have never forgotten “Tex” Watson’s (the lone male who participated in the murders) words when asked by the victims at Cielo Drive “Who are you?” to which Watson replied “I am the Devil and I’m here to do the Devil’s business”.

I’d always been puzzled and a bit fascinated by The Manson Girls. What struck me most about these young girls Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins was their air of detachment, girlish cou
Milky Mixer
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book could have been so much better and was a complete missed opportunity by the author. Many members of the Manson Family, the prosecution, and relatives of the victims have written memoirs, given interviews, appeared on television, and have told the story of the Tate-LaBianca Murders from every side. But Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie van Houten, 2 of the 3 women who participated in the infamous 1960s murders, have been relatively reclusive over the nearly-50 years they've spent in prison ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I did not expect to visualise Abigail Folger's smile or hear Leno LaBianca's screams when I started reading this. I did not expect to empathise to this extent with the author and the discrimination she had to face. And I, least of all, expected to understand Leslie and Pat. More Leslie than Pat, actually. And Susan Atkins who is present just by name in this book? Well, I have always been convinced she had Munchausen syndrome. I, who have always vehemently vilified the Manson women (oh how I disl ...more
Jun 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Not long after I began reading this book, I decided to look at some of the reviews here and was surprised by all the complaining about it lacking focus or being too much about the author. But I suspect at least some of those complaints are more about the book not being what they expected. It's not really *about* the Manson women at all but about the author's relationship to them (and friendship with two of them). Meredith grew up in circumstances similar to Van Houten, Krenwinkle, and Atikins. H ...more
marissa  sammy
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Honestly, the title has it backwards. Meredith spends more time on her own family dynamics and making the most tenuous of connections between herself and the Manson Family victims. She seems to be implying that since she's Jewish, she understands how the victims felt, or could easily have been in their place, or something? At any rate, it reads like a self-involved family memoir locked in a cell with a sympathetic criminology book, and they are uneasy bunkmates indeed. ...more
Jill Crosby
May 31, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An epically proportional train wreck, PURPORTED to be about the author’s in-depth study of Leslie van Houten & Patricia Krenwinkle, two of Charles Manson’s primary “killing lieutenants,” who actively participated in the slaughter of at least 7 human beings back in 1969.

Instead, this is what the reader was served: lengthy chunks of the author’s memoir interwoven with “interviews” of the Manson Girls, then awkwardly forced to reveal a connection to the situations of her subjects;
The author becomin
Sam (Clues and Reviews)
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have always been fascinated by cults. I find them to be equal parts fascinating and terrifying. So, naturally, in high school I picked up a copy of Helter Skelter, learning all about the Manson Family. This book stayed with me and I actually ended up having to throw the book away because it gave me the creeps. How could people be manipulated into murder? How could one man dictate actions? What could compel a “normal” person to do such awful things?

The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality a
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
It would be impossible to write a book about the women in the Manson family and have it not be interesting. Even all these decades later, the story of this cult is still shocking and mystifying to many people. How did a group of seemingly 'normal' girls turn into murderers? Were they completely coerced into committing the crimes? Should they continue to be held responsible for what happened while they were under the influence of mind control? Their story continues in the present, as they're cont ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: manson-murders
Even though there were many players involved Charles Manson, the author focuses on just two, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel. The author attempts to get inside their heads to figure out how two normal young girls could commit horrible murders. This could possibly work if the author had a background in psychology, but she is a journalist. She interviews the two subjects, but they are not very forthcoming and so the psychological aspect doesnt really work. She gives a lot of background i ...more
Jul 31, 2021 rated it it was ok
I almost didn’t finish this book because I got so bored with it multiple times. The author spends about 50% of the book telling stories from her own life that have absolutely no relation to the two women of the Manson family that are supposed to be the focus of the book. While some of her stories are interesting, they interrupt the narrative of her time with the women and to be honest I just don’t care about it - I read the book to learn about them, not the author. The portions about the Manson ...more
Susan Weiner
May 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was less than satisfying. While purporting to answer the question of why normal people can sometimes do such horrendous things, the author talks primarily about herself and her psyche. And then she becomes involved in the lives of Manson's women even advocating for parole of one of the defendants. I wasn't sure I was in on her sympathy for the women or for her unusual method of running all explanations for their behavior through her own eyes and experience. If you want to know how the ...more
Kim Hamilton
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a true crime buff, historian and one-time psych major, I’ve always been intrigued yet perplexed as to how so many young, seemingly well-adjusted women could fall under the spell of a notorious madman like Charles Manson.
When I read that author Nikki Meredith had interviewed Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkle for 20+ years, I couldn’t wait to read it.
While I would have preferred more info about the Manson women and less about side stories of the author’s own life, this book provided g
Barbara Carter
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I, as a person who likes going deeper into why people do some of the things they do. And if you are that kind of person then I think you will like this book. Also, as a teen I had read two books on the Manson Family that were published in the 70s. I as a young woman, horrified, yet captivated by such violence, wondering about those young women who committed such violent acts. Hoping I could never become like them. Yet, they were ordinary young woman turned into killers. ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
If you’re intending to learn about the Manson women, you’re reading the wrong book. The title is definitely a misnomer. If you’re interested in learning about the author’s life - family, high school experiences, college boyfriend, ex-offender brother and on and on in this vein, then it’s the book for you! If you’re interested in the Manson Family story avoid this one. With all the well written books about Manson and his followers out there, this one is a waste of time.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of research went in this book, that you can tell.
Not sure about the authors personal life, how it connected. Felt a bit disconnected for me in that easy. Overall book was interesting.
Thank you to author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nice addition to the library of material on the subject.
Jo Besser
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
I honestly didn't think I would like this as much as I did.

Though, I won't lie, I often times wondered what Nikki Meredith was writing about herself in this. After a while it made a lot of sense. You read about Nikki Meredith was finding herself, as well as the Manson women.

I have my opinions on the women who were part of the "Manson Family" I honestly cannot say if my mind has been changed on them. However, this book gave me a better understanding of them. Why they did what they did, and what t
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, true-crime
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I don't know where to start. I enjoy learning about true crimes and I love criminal psychology. I remember I was 14 years old when I first read about Mason and the things his crew committed. It was shocking and some twisted way... fascinating. How can a human creature commit such a hideous crime?

This book tries to focus on Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel but the autho
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“In The Lucifer Effect, Philip Zimbardo, citing decades of research, details all of the ways that ordinary, average individuals—whether they be soldiers in Guatemala, doctors in Nazi Germany, Hutus in Rwanda—can be stripped of their values, their morality, their souls. After elaborating on the variables that contribute to this process—isolation, drug use, denying people identities—he declares that the most important variable, far and away more important than the others, is the fear of being excluded from the in-group. Manipulating this fear, he asserts, is the most effective way people are transformed from ordinary human beings into human beings capable of evil. We tend to associate the desire for acceptance by the in-group with high school, but according to Zimbardo, this need does not stop at adolescence but continues through adulthood. He cites people’s willingness to suffer painful and or humiliating initiation rites in return for acceptance in fraternities, cults, social clubs, or the military. When the desire to be included is coupled with the terror of being excluded, Zimbardo writes that it can cripple initiative, negate personal autonomy, and lead people to do virtually anything to avoid rejection. “Authorities can command total obedience not through punishment or rewards but by means of the double-edged weapon: the lure of acceptance coupled with the threat of rejection.” 1 likes
“When the individual is on his own,” he wrote, “conscience is brought into play. But when he functions in an organizational mode, directions that come from the higher level of competence are not assessed against the internal standards of moral judgment.” 1 likes
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