August 8, 1969, is a date that is most remembered by the events that threw the city of Los Angeles into a state of panic for months.  The murders of Sharon Tate and her friends and the subsequent investigation that led to the eventual arrest of Charles Manson and members of his Family have been the subject of several true crime books, documentaries, and podcasts for the last 50 years.

On the 50th Anniversary of the Tate Murders, award-winning documentary producer, James Buddy Day, released a book entitled HIPPIE CULT LEADER: THE LAST WORDS OF CHARLES MANSON detailing his experience both interviewing Manson himself, but also the others who surrounded the case for his documentary Charles Manson: The Final Words.  The book catches the reader at the get-go with an in-depth recreation of the night of the Tate Murders, from the perspective of the victims.

HIPPIE CULT LEADER: THE LAST WORDS OF CHARLES MANSON proceeds to take the reader on the tumultuous journey along with Day from his first contact with Charles Manson, through the subsequent interviews and phone conversations that he had, not only with the man himself but also with everyone else involved that he could get to speak with him.  Not only is HIPPIE CULT LEADER packed with information about Manson’s early life, what led to the formation of the Manson Family, and the eventual murders, but it also offers a unique perspective, having the majority of the information come from people who lived at the Ranch, and Manson himself.  Manson, even to his death, denied the Helter Skelter theory that the prosecution convicted him on, and Day offers an alternative theory of events, by no means exonerating Manson, but providing a different picture from the brainwashed robots committing random murders to start a race war.

Throughout HIPPIE CULT LEADER Day manages to bring in fresh perspectives and enough new information that anyone who is interested in the Manson case will be questioning what they think they know, while still giving enough baseline information that those who may not be as familiar with the case can still follow along.  Day is a compelling storyteller, which is helpful as the reading is dense with information. Day’s personal tone and writing style allow the delivery to never be dry, and it becomes more and more captivating as Day’s timeline gets closer and closer to both the murders and the trial.  

Overall, HIPPIE CULT LEADER: THE LAST WORDS OF CHARLES MANSON was a great read for someone who had only a passing knowledge of the Manson case.  There was so much new information and perspectives, and being able to read Manson’s viewpoint on the events leading up to the case was eye-opening.  True Crime lovers will find fresh information and new interviews, and readers newer to the case won’t be lost on the fascinating journey that James Buddy Day takes them along.

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