Author/journalist and investigative reporter IVOR DAVIS was deeply embedded in the life of Charles Manson, while maintaining distance from the mesmerizing pull that drew Manson’s followers to him and compelled them to do his savage, unspeakable bidding. Davis retained a cool, independent, and objective view as the case played out, and in his gripping new book Manson Exposed: A Reporter’s 50-Year Journey into Madness and Murder, he shares his personal odyssey over half a century.
Much of what we know comes from Helter Skelter, one of the best-selling true-crime books of all time. Written by the lead prosecutor on the case, Vincent Bugliosi, when the book came out in 1974, it established what would become the accepted narrative: A crazed, charismatic man who grew up in juvenile detention facilities is released from prison just before the Summer of Love, gathers together a group of drug-crazed hippies, tries to break into the L.A. pop scene and, when he’s unceremoniously rejected by it, convinces his followers that the only way forward is to commit a series of brutal murders to usher in an era of violent race war. It’s this apocalyptic event that Bugliosi identifies as the motive of the apocalyptic plan, which Manson named after a song on the Beatle’s White Album — the Beatles being the harbingers of the Apocalypse sending him messages through their music.
For half a century Davis was an eyewitness to the case. He was hot on the story from the moment the Tate murders were discovered in August 1969. He had a front row seat during the crazy, year-long trial and sheds new light on this ever changing story by sharing how he stayed one step ahead of investigators; pinpointing why this killer cult did what they did, and how they did it and who they did it to, as well as clearly identifying all the players in this warped American tragedy.
Ivor Davis discredits Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter" and makes his case that the Beatles didn't make them do it.