December 31, 2013
Description: Manson's Right-Hand Man Speaks Out is an interview with Charles "Tex" Watson, covering ten intriguing subjects chapter by chapter. It provides something for everyone, including factual information for the historian, counsel for parents in raising successful children, research assistance for students, and answers for teenagers. Those searching will find the Truth and see at last how to stop the pain.
My Thoughts on Manson's Right-Hand Man Speaks Out by Charles "Tex" Watson
Since reading Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry at the age of 11, the winding and disturbing story of the Manson crimes has stuck with me. This interest not only led me to read many other true crime books over the years and honed an interest in psychology but also to re-reads of this grandfather of the true crime genre on a regular basis.
If you have read Helter Skelter, you will quickly recognize Charles "Tex" Watson as the personal executioner of seven people on the nights of August 8 and 9, 1969. If you have kept current on the post-sentencing lives of the incarcerated Manson Family members, you will also know that Watson alleges to have become a born-again Christian, started his own ministry while in prison as well as marrying and fathering children. Yes, after butchering a pregnant woman begging for her life and the life of her child, this individual was allowed to become a father himself.
So why would anyone be interested in reading what this murderer has to say? I can only answer for myself but as a continuing student of abnormal psychology and true crime, I am always willing to open another book on the Tate murders. Oh, and it was free for my Kindle.
So let's talk about this "book", or truthfully, answers to questions submitted to Watson by an investigative journalist. If you're looking for Watson to take any accountability for his horrific crimes, you won't get it here. Ever the conman, he places the blame for the vicious murders on Manson, on drugs, on alcohol, on the times, even on rock and roll music. Basically on anyone but himself. And while I do think that the crimes wouldn't have happened without Manson, I can hardly keep a straight face and accept that Flower Power played any part whatsoever in the brutal and senseless butchering of people.
While the crimes themselves are questioned (naturally), Watson gives little input other than the aforesaid placing of blame. He claims to be sorry, so sorry for the pain and grief he caused but has no good reason for why he has chosen to not say these simple words to the families of his victims. He claims that his words would mean little. An apology for the cruelest act possible apparently would mean little but this collection of words we're supposed to swallow. Okay.
What infuriated me perhaps more than anything else was Watson's assertion that neither he nor the Manson "girls" who also participated in the killings derived any type of enjoyment or pleasure from their acts. He opines that they killed their victims as a matter of course, expediently, obeying their ultimate master, Manson. Again, as someone who has read multiple accounts of the crimes and seen crime scene photos and autopsy reports, this is yet another example of Watson's posturing and attempts to con the reader. His victims were physically and emotionally tortured - - hardly dispatched from this life quickly and robotically.
Watson also claims that he wanted to leave the so-called Family but was too afraid of Manson to do so. He wants us to believe that he was Manson's little minion, merely following orders, but he was very assertive and brutal to his victims and Manson was not there. Consider the title of this work. He addresses himself as Manson's right-hand man; hardly what you would consider a meek, voiceless and unwilling participant. He could have walked away at any time. He made a choice and he made that choice because he was a cold-blooded, vicious killer who wanted to hurt people.
I was put off by the religious quotes and assertions heavily laced throughout the pages. I have nothing against religion and my own beliefs but I do not need a multiple murderer to lecture me on how I should live and how our society should raise our children. I also have no sympathy for Watson's bemoaning his circumstances and how the general public refuses to view him as anything but a murdering monster. I have no idea if he truly is a Christian but my gut instinct is that Christianity is merely a means to an end (i.e., incarceration) to him and maybe even a money-making venture. Should I be wrong, I still believe that he owes a debt to society and that is to be paid with his freedom.
I found it ironic and unintentionally humorous that while he states firmly that he prefers to be called "Charles" and "Tex" was a person he no longer is, he chose to use that very moniker on the cover of this book. Hypocritical? Yes. Looking to sell more books and make more money via the connection with the person he claims to no longer be? Absolutely.
And while the journalist/interviewer/author asked a few good questions, there was a serious lack of follow up. Maybe because the questions were submitted on paper, with Watson replying and no opportunity for the journalist/interviewer/author to expound. If so, it's a disappointment. Case in point - Watson claims that Manson and one other Family member returned to the Tate/Polanski home after the murders and changed the crime scene. There was no follow up question, not even a "Did Manson tell you this himself?"
In short, I found this book to be a self-serving piece of garbage with an ultimate goal of rehabilitating Watson's image and securing his release from prison. I don't believe for a moment that he is truly rehabilitated nor that he belongs anywhere but where he currently is. It's been 45 years since the crimes and he still has yet to take full responsibility for his part on this particularly sad part of American history. Tex Watson was a conman in 1969 and he remains a conman in 2013.
Would I recommend this book? If you're a serious true crime aficionado with particular leanings toward the Manson crimes, sure - - but don't expect real information or any truth from him. And only if you manage to snag this book for free, as I did. Otherwise, give it and its posturing "author" a pass.
Manson's Right-Hand Man Speaks Out by Charles "Tex" Watson is available for purchase at Amazon now. I am an Amazon affiliate. I will make a small commission if you make a purchase through my link.
FTC Disclosure: This book was from my own private collection, purchased by me. I was neither paid nor compensated in any way for this review.