The Manson Women and Me (Monsters, Morality, and Murder)
By Nikki Meredith
True crime fans will appreciate this book. This is an incredibly fascinating read. It’s a combination of a woman’s memoir woven into her interest and investigation into the infamous Manson Women. She’s gotten the opportunity to know these women up close, mostly Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten. The way the book reads is almost calming, it’s like having a personal conversation with the author, as is she’s just telling you the memories of her life and experiences over a cup of coffee. It’s very personal and down to earth.
What intrigued me the most is that Meredith presents these two women in a way that we’ve never really been able to see them before…as human beings. These two woman seem to be cut from a different cloth than Susan Atkins. Nikki Meredith opens the door to who they are as PEOPLE, not just reducing them to the acts the committed, which we, as society, has done for years.
To understand crime, how it happens, why it happens, etc., we must try to understand the perpetrators of the crimes, who they are, where they came from, how they grew up, how they came to commit their offense. These are ALL important things in dealing with rehabilitation, which these two women have fully submerged themselves in.
We also get a first-hand account of face to face interaction with Leslie and Pat. Before reading this it was so easy to just dismiss these women as soulless monsters who were not capable or deserving of being amongst the rest of society. And although no one likes to hear it, we NEVER looked at these ladies as victims. Especially not after the passion Bugliosi put forth in the trial and his book, Helter Skelter. And although he focuses on the fact that Charlie ran things as if he were King, he still ignored the idea that these women (really just kids at the time) weren’t capable of acting on their own beliefs, which is prevalent in cults among followers.
However, if you really read about these women, they were victims of Manson. Though the cult was small and not what we see as a “mainstream” cult these days, Manson was still a VERY effective leader. Their group (The Family) had all the ear-markings of a cult and Charles Manson was at the top. The descriptions of how he controlled the girls, how he played with their heads and their emotions, how he played them off each other, how he used their upbringing against them, how he kept everyone isolated and intoxicated. It also helps to further explain how slowly and innocuously he groomed them for this kind of control, and that it didn’t just happen overnight. This book really allows you to take a step back and see that this imposition of his own will was several, SEVERAL months in the making.
I really enjoyed reading this book. An amazing accumulation of memories and facts, conversations and visits, questions and answers, put together is such a well thought out manner that you just breeze right through. It stimulates your mind and is very thought provoking. Truly a REAL LOOK inside the minds of the Manson Women.