This year marks 50 year anniversary of the tragic Manson Family Murders. This sensational moment frightened and continues to fixate the world. James Buddy Day, an award winning true crime producer, writer, and director, is recognized for a number of features focused on Charles Manson as well as on Casey Anthony, and The Slender Ma Stabbings. Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson presents new and exclusive interviews, including conversations with Charles Manson himself. Day delves into the theory of Helter Skelter and actively works to debunk this idea throughout the course of the narrative.
To establish the story, I want to begin by noting that I am fascinated by true crime, though more the psychology of how people can commit the acts they commit. I want to understand what led them to the point where the story becomes frightening. The idea of Charles Manson for me delves into more than the men, but rather how he could create such a massive following. People were drawn to him and this seemed to lead them to commit violent acts on his behalf. Day had previously reached out to Manson via letter and received a phone call from him out of the blue that led to over a year of communications. What he went into the story hoping to learn was exactly what happened, but instead he began curating the story of the last year of his life. As he sets up his story Day begins by noting that Charlie, which is what he calls him going forward, stated that he would be willing to do something, but it wouldn’t be a lie, which leaves the reader in a state of slight unknown. He also includes quotes from Charlie where he refutes the idea that he requested his followers commit the murders. What unfolds is information that spans a variety of sources and shows that there are always more pieces to the story to examine.
Day’s story provides an interesting touch that many true crime works connected to Manson don’t have. He spent time speaking with people who were part of the family or who had made connections with him during his time in prison. Through these stories he gains a different view of Charlie, one that shows him as a everything from a prophet to a friend. What evolves out of his interviews and discussions with Charlie and other people connected to him are alternate theories that actually seem to show a level of innocence for Charlie. I will say that what is presented is interesting to read and Day does make a compelling argument. I thought do not want to say definitively that this is the correct answer or if anyone one answer is truly correct in a story that is so full of tragic lose. Day has spent a great deal of time examining these conversations and interacting with these people, which has immersed him in this story in a way that in some ways could be seen as making him no longer impartial. I do though acknowledge that he has done a great deal of work to create this book and he has also presented supported theories. It adds to the Manson family narrative in a new way that will attract true crime fans as well as though who are just intrigued by the concept of Manson and his family. You can read Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson August 8th, but you can pre-order today.