The Tate-LaBianca murders by the Manson Family in August 1969, along with the sensational trial the following year, are usually credited, along with debacle at Altamont in December 1969, with destroying the peace-&-love era of the Hippie. In THE FAMILY, written in exuberant style by poet, activist and Fugs founder Ed Sanders, you have an amazing document that precedes HELTER SKELTER, the blockbuster bestseller by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, by a good three years. What Sanders accomplishes in THE FAMILY is to convey just how crazy the lunatic fringe of the 1960s were: Satan worship, human sacrifice, biker gangs, marathon orgies, the list could on and on. Manson does not come off well. A lifelong criminal who did a lengthy stint at McNeil Island prison where he picked up some handy mind-control tricks, Manson was a megalomaniac misogynist and racist who ordered others to do his killing. There are some fascinating tangents to THE FAMILY. One that Sanders explores is that Manson sent his minions to the Polanski household primed for slaughter thinking that Sharon Tate would not be there. (Her car wasn't there; it was in the shop that night.) In other words, the usual explanation, that Manson was looking for payback at rock producer and Doris Day offspring Terry Melcher's expense for not making him a superstar, is not credible. Manson knew that Melcher no longer lived on 10050 Cielo Drive. Sanders thinks that the Polanski home was chosen as the scene for slaughter because one of Charlie's girls, Linda Kasabian (the member of The Family who ended up ratting everyone out to prosecutors), had been burned by Polanski buddy Wojciech Frykowski (Abigail Folger's lover) on a MDA drug buy. Frykowksi and Folger were house sitting for the Polanskis while they were in England.
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