Desert Shadows: A True Story of the Charles Manson Family in Death Valley by Bob Murphy

Desert Shadows: A True Story of the Charles Manson Family in Death Valley

By Bob Murphy

This book takes a very detailed look at the events leading up to the capture of the Manson Family in Death Valley. It all starts with the burning of a Michigan loader and culminates with the arrests at the Barker Ranch. An interesting look into law and order in such a vast and treacherous area of natural beauty.

Book Description: Sensational media coverage of the 1969 Tate-La Bianca murders and trials concentrated on the grisly Los Angeles-area crimes and the bizarre “Family” headed by Charles Manson. Until now the stark dramas which unfolded far from Los Angeles, in the deserts of southeastern California, have been eclipsed by the big city.

Desert Shadows documents the surreal, apocalyptic existence of Manson’s Family in the Death Valley and Owens Valley deserts – stockpiled weapons and fuel; terrified old prospectors; furious Rommel-like exercises at night in stolen dune buggies; hikes in search of the entrance to a huge underground world of fresh water and infinite space, where crowds of the chosen had already gathered to wait for Manson; orgies of drugs, group sex, torture, and ritualistic murder.

Desert Shadows also traces the escalating involvement of local park rangers and law officers as investigations of vandalism and theft uncovered the most chilling murders of the decade, far more extensive than the Tate-La Bianca slayings. Through diligence and bravery these local officials – pitted against the vast, harsh, empty desert and a dangerous cult – finally accomplished what Los Angeles lawmen had not, the arrest of the Family and the linking of murders previously considered unrelated.

Pages: 133

Publisher: Sagebrush Pr (July 15, 1999)

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2 Responses to Desert Shadows: A True Story of the Charles Manson Family in Death Valley by Bob Murphy

  1. Fred Bloggs says:

    The book is 133 pages but really, should have been only 33 ~ it would have been a really good read. As it is, it’s quite an infuriating one. So much of the text is lifted wholesale from “Helter Skelter” and it truly grates on one after the third time. It would be understandable if the writer took from Helter Skelter but put things in their own words, but they don’t even do that. If you are familiar with the Helter Skelter text, there may well be times when you wonder which book it is that you are reading from ! You are unlikely to find a more accurate copy of someone else’s book than this. It reminds me of a child that has been given an assignment to do a bit of research on a particular historical figure or event and they just go to their source and lift wholesale what their source has written, complete with phrases and mistakes contained in the original source !
    The annoying thing is that the pages where Bob Murphy actually concentrates on the Barker bust, the events leading up to it and its immediate aftermath are among the most compelling pages of the entire TLB library. They are gripping, well constructed and powerful as he really brings to life what was frustrating the desert rangers and LE alike. We also get to understand how difficult it was to actually co~ordinate the the bust and the different groups involved. Most importantly, we, by excellent writing, are transported into the darkness of the desert and the dangers that faced LE as they went into the belly of the beast to uncover what initially were suspects in a vehicle theft ring.
    For the bust alone, the book is worth the money although unfortunately, most of the book is padding that has already been given an airing elsewhere and more famously too.

  2. Fred Bloggs says:

    Murphy could have got away with a really short book. It would still have been compelling and an important addition to the canon.

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