Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family's Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice by Alisa Statman and Brie Tate
Published February 21, 2012 by It Books
Kindle, 436 KB
Source ISBN: 0062107291
Paperback, 400 pages
Audio Addition, 9 hours and 22 minutes
The gruesome murders of the beautiful and talented actress Sharon Tate, her unborn child and four others that same night at the hands of the notorious "Manson family" rocked the nation. As one of the most horrific crimes in modern history, these atrocities, the trial and the subsequent conviction of Charles Manson and his followers caused a media sensation, spawning movies, documentaries and bestselling books, including the classic Helter Skelter. A defining moment in an era otherwise associated with radical peace, love and understanding, this incident is one that still resonates with millions today.
Yet while this crime left an indelible mark on society's consciousness, it was, first and foremost, a shattering personal tragedy for those closest to Sharon—the loving family left to cope with the emotional devastation of her loss. Now, after nearly forty years, their story is finally revealed.
Compiled by close family friend Alisa Statman and Sharon's niece Brie Tate, Restless Souls draws on a wealth of material including interviews with the Tates, personal letters, tape recordings, home movies, public interviews, private journals, and official documents to provide a powerful, poignant, and affecting four-decade, three-generation memoir of crime and punishment, anguish and hope, rage and love, that is both a chronicle of death and a celebration of life.
Extending beyond all previous accounts, Restless Souls is the most revealing, riveting, and emotionally raw account not just of these heinous murders, the hunt and capture of the killers and the behind-the-scenes drama of their trials, but of the torment victims families' endure for years in the wake of such senseless violence.
Tate family members set the record straight, correcting media misinformation and delving well beyond the official storyline to provide information, much of it available for the first time. Intimate, honest, and heartfelt, Restless Souls remarkable details, including :
· the dramatic role Sharon's father, P. J., a retired army intelligence officer, played in finding his daughter's murderers
· the reaction P. J. had when he came face to face—alone—with Sharon's convicted killer in a holding room during a parole hearing
· the threats and menace that extended beyond prison walls, haunting the victim's family for generations later
· the fight Sharon's mother, Doris, mounted to insure the rights of victims' loved ones, particularly the right to make an ‘impact statement' at parole hearings—a legacy that has helped keep dangerous criminals behind bars
· the battles Sharon's sister, Patti, waged with the entertainment industry as she tirelessly worked to prevent artists from glorifying her sister's killers in music, art, and filmsTold from the Tate’s extraordinary perspective Restless Souls offers a rare glimpse at the post-trauma survival of a family and their journey to find justice and ultimately, peace—a glimpse that couldn't be more timely as Charles Manson comes up for parole again in 2012.
My Thoughts on Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice
Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice is the latest entry into the substantial collection of books written about the Manson murders and at first glance, it may seem an unwanted and unneeded addition into an oversaturated, even weary, market. Don’t let the number of books preceding it affect your decision to pass this one by. It’s well worth your time and effort.
This case has long been one that I have had a particular interest in. Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry’s classic about the crimes, was the first book in the true crime genre that I read. Since then, I have reread it many times and the senseless horror never fails to create an uneasy pit in my stomach. Of all the Manson victims, Sharon Tate was the most pathetic and the most notorious; perhaps for this reason I felt a particular sadness over her death.
Finding Restless Souls was hitting the literary lottery for me. After more than forty years, this was an account of how the Tate family dealt with the aftermath of the most well known murders of the 20th century and how the brutal killing of her daughter led Sharon’s mother Doris to forcefully advocate for victims’ families.
A good quarter or so of the book deals with Sharon and the time before the murders. I appreciated reading about the true Sharon, as her family saw her and knew her. Authors Alisa Statman and Brie Tate (nee Ford, Sharon’s niece) pull no punches in using journals written by P.J. and Doris Tate, as well as Sharon’s sister Patti (and Brie’s late mother). They admit to Sharon’s drug usage, as well as usage by her former fiancé and fellow victim, Jay Sebring, and the debt he was in following the crimes. Reading Sebring’s despondency over Sharon’s pregnancy, still pining for her and hoping that she would return to him once her marriage ended, and knowing they would die together was particularly heartbreaking. Sharon is presented as particularly human, no saint but certainly not the questionable “live freaky, die freaky” character that’s been oft-repeated since her death. Rather, she is shown as a loving and devoted daughter and sister, a fierce animal lover, a woman who cried reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles and encouraged her husband that it would make a wonderful film (a film he made in 1979, dedicating it to her). For Sharon Tate fans who like her with only the gauzy light of reality on her, they may not be pleased; for those who want to know the real Sharon, good and bad, this is a slice of heaven.
The bulk of Restless Souls deals with the after effects of murder on the living victims, not just the Tate family but the Parent family and various families that Doris Tate would go on to help. These were the difficult parts of the book to read. The raw anguish of the Tates’ suffering comes off every page, making it at times necessary to put the book down, even just for a moment. And a moment was about as long as I could stand to put it down, so anxious I was to continue on this uneasy journey with Sharon’s family. Doris Tate, despite her resistance to be categorized as such, was a true heroine - - a strong fighter who took the greatest tragedy of her life and dedicated herself to trying to prevent the same horror happening to others. PJ Tate, following the death of his daughter, took to the streets himself in search of his child’s killers and his investigation is included, to fascinating effect. Particularly interesting to me was Tate’s confrontation with killer Charles “Tex” Watson, an encounter that left the cold and heartless killer shaken. Patti Tate’s story, while less well known than her mother’s, is no less sad; only ten years old in 1969, she idolized her older sister and felt she never had the chance to give Sharon a proper goodbye and spent many years not acknowledging or speaking of her.
The only weak part of Restless Souls, in this reader’s opinion, was the replay of the murders in which the thoughts and feelings of the victims are discussed. As this is pure conjecture taken from Patti’s unpublished memoir and written as fact, it’s a bit disconcerting. However, it’s a small flaw compared to the overall strength of the book, which includes showing not only Sharon but Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Woyteck Frykowski as actual people and not just victims. (There is no information on Steven Parent because the Tates and their friends did not know him).
Restless Souls is a worthy companion to Helter Skelter, the latter discussing the crimes, detection of the killers and their trials, a memoir of pain and heartache as well as a nod to Doris, PJ and Patti Tate’s dedication and a reminder that Sharon Tate was more than a beautiful murder victim. I would not hesitate to highly recommend it.
Restless Souls is available for purchase at major booksellers now, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission. As an added bonus to the Kindle addition, exclusive home video from the Tate family, audio clips featuring Sharon herself as well as her mother's personal reflections after Sharon's death, and additional photos not included in any other edition of the book are included with the e-book.FTC Disclosure: This book was borrowed from my local public library. I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.