My Life with Charles Manson

by Paul Watkins and Guillermo Soledad

Once, Charles Manson’s #2 man, Paul Watkins, believed in the Family and trusted Manson with his life. That was before the Tate-LaBianca murders, before the bizarre warning signals that Helter Skelter was coming down. Now in MY LIFE WITH CHARLES MANSON, he recalls with chilling, hour-by-hour detail how he came to join the Family and how, from the beginning, they were programmed-by sex, drugs and music-to kill and die for a man who would as easily have cut their throats. He describes the creepy crawly nights which were rehearsals for murder… and Manson’s richly embroidered ceremonial vest which depicted scenes of Family life and was woven partly in human hair… MY LIFE WITH CHARLES MANSON is a story of violence against body, mind and soul-perhaps the most shocking story ever told.

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Don’t pay the outrageous price for this book. Go to the library and ILL it. If you are interested in the dynamics of the Manson family and how it worked, you need to read this book. It’s told by former family member Paul Watkins and his year with the family. He wasn’t involved in the murders so if the murders are what you want to read about, you won’t find anything here. Watkins gives an honest look at the family and details how Manson was able to turn seemingly normal kids into cold-blooded killers. He also details his deprogramming process with the help of miner Paul Crockett which I found really interesting. The last part of the book when Manson moves the family back to Barker Ranch after the murders gives interesting details that I’d never heard before. In my opinion, this book is a much easier read than The Family by Ed Sanders (it’s confusing and all over the place) and the information comes from someone who was actually there. If I can ever find a copy at a reasonable price, I’m definitely buying it. Maybe one day it will be republished.

Teri Augustine

“I read this book every couple of years since Paul gave it to me in the early ’80s. It’s helped me understand the pathology and cultural reasons for the Manson Group murders. A worthwhile read of a young man who embraced peace and just wanted the carefree promise of the ’60x of sex, drugs and rock and roll, but ended up in an egomaniac’s orbit. Paul was proud of this book. It also gave him a chance to say, read my book to understand, rather than continue to explain his personal history. He went on with his life. His intelligence led to his being part of the conviction of Manson at a time when the prosecution needed to prove motive for a conspiracy conviction. Paul described Manson to me as “pure ego”. All these years later, I understand that to mean “pure unrefined ego”. The Truth Shall Set You Free. Paul’s legacy is his positive impact on friends, family community and humanity. Paul helped people and scholars understand the pitfalls of cults and I’m sure served to save people from becoming immersed such tragic situations.”

Dusty Rhodes

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