Edward George, who was Charles Manson's prison counselor for eight years during the late 1970s and early '80s, offers an insider's look at the creepy cult leader's day-to-day life behind bars. Although Charlie is literally a graybeard now, he's lost none of his knack for oddball ranting and dark and compelling personal magnetism. George conveys the riveting persona of the convicted killer--complex and arcane, by turns violent and easygoing, and in some ways even sensitive. In one bizarre incident, Manson, upon discovering a bird's nest outside his cell window, procures an egg from the nest to protect it from the prison's cleaning crews, who routinely swept such nests off the building. George stumbles upon Charlie expectantly warming the egg with his hands, hoping for a hatchling to emerge. "Charles Manson held that egg in his hands for weeks, cherishing it, talking to it, waiting for that bird to emerge," George writes. "It never did."
The portrait of Manson that emerges from Taming the Beast is largely one of a defanged, eccentric, and even comical man, a man who goes before parole boards every few years and, like an actor leaping onstage, performs for his captive audience, then chuckles about it afterward. Still, the author is careful to remind readers of the harsher reality of Manson's past, at one point promising to stick a "shank into that bastard's black heart" if Manson ever came after his daughter. Though George struggles mightily to emphasize Charlie's sociopathic nature, it becomes obvious very early on in the book that he has a fairly big soft spot for his former charge. Manson, it seems, despite being confined, still has his infamous powers of persuasion after half a life on ice. --Tjames Madison [via]