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Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the…
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Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties (original 2019; edition 2020)

by Tom O'Neill (Author)

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1505136,428 (3.78)2
A journalist's twenty-year fascination with the Manson murders leads to shocking new revelations about the FBI's involvement in this riveting reassessment of an infamous case in American history. Over two grim nights in Los Angeles, the young followers of Charles Manson murdered seven people, including the actress Sharon Tate, then eight months pregnant. With no mercy and seemingly no motive, the Manson Family followed their leader's every order -- their crimes lit a flame of paranoia across the nation, spelling the end of the sixties. Manson became one of history's most infamous criminals, his name forever attached to an era when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love was as possible as brainwashing, and utopia -- or dystopia -- was just an acid trip away. Twenty years ago, when journalist Tom O'Neill was reporting a magazine piece about the murders, he worried there was nothing new to say. Then he unearthed shocking evidence of a cover-up behind the "official" story, including police carelessness, legal misconduct, and potential surveillance by intelligence agents. When a tense interview with Vincent Bugliosi -- prosecutor of the Manson Family and author of Helter Skelter -- turned a friendly source into a nemesis, O'Neill knew he was onto something. But every discovery brought more questions: Who were Manson's real friends in Hollywood, and how far would they go to hide their ties? Why didn't law enforcement, including Manson's own parole officer, act on their many chances to stop him? And how did Manson -- an illiterate ex-con -- turn a group of peaceful hippies into remorseless killers? O'Neill's quest for the truth led him from reclusive celebrities to seasoned spies, from San Francisco's summer of love to the shadowy sites of the CIA's mind-control experiments, on a trail rife with shady cover-ups and suspicious coincidences. The product of two decades of reporting, hundreds of new interviews, and dozens of never-before-seen documents from the LAPD, the FBI, and the CIA, Chaos mounts an argument that could be, according to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Steven Kay, strong enough to overturn the verdicts on the Manson murders. This is a book that overturns our understanding of a pivotal time in American history.… (more)
Member:brittanymallion
Title:Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties
Authors:Tom O'Neill (Author)
Info:Back Bay Books (2020), 528 pages
Collections:Your library
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Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O'Neill (2019)

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On the DARK side: I’ve done a review of Tom O’Neill’s book, CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties for Lobster magazine. Manson was released from prison in March 1967 into the care of parole supervisor, Roger Smith, who was doing research – bankrolled by a CIA front – into gangs and how various drugs influenced violent behaviour. Smith sent Manson to Haight-Ashbury for the summer of love. Manson took to his new acid-tripping, guitar-strumming, hippie lifestyle and built himself a cult, known as the ‘Family’. He 'recruited' Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, who said, ‘Sometimes the Wizard frightens me. The Wizard is Charlie Manson, who is a friend of mine, who thinks he is God and the devil’. Manson employed excessive LSD tripping to ‘program’ his followers, but later their drug of choice was speed. In O’Neill’s words, ‘The law afforded special privileges to everyone in Manson’s orbits’.

https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/issue80.php ( )
  BarbarismOf | Jun 26, 2020 |
This is a hard one to review. On the one hand, the story was gripping and had a lot of twists and turns and unexplained holes. On the other hand, it doesn't really lead to any coherent explanation to challenge the official narrative. By the author's own admission the best he can say is that it didn't happen the way Manson's trial said it did. There's definitely value in exploring those rabbit holes...but it wasn't a secret history of the sixties by a long shot. ( )
  Jthierer | Apr 29, 2020 |
Chaos indeed. Sex tapes, C.I.A., music, Hollywood --it's all here, as if every National Enquirer story had relevance and legitimacy. It goes down this constant road of attempting to dismantle Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter narrative of the murders. O'Neill uses this "narrative" ploy a lot, and while there is a lot to digest here, from 20 year old interviews of 1st hand witnesses who have since died (some never recorded on tape) before the book's release, to reevaluating related crimes (Gary Hinman case), it still plays up conspiracy fodder through and through. It ultimately comes down to who's "narrative" you believe.

Are there holes in Bugliosi's theory? Sure. Is O'Neill's theory any more convincing? It could be if there were actually anything consisting of a solid theory in here. The thing about Manson and the Family is that they were a mess during a messy time and nefarious behavior was everywhere. This cult's leader was a charismatic sociopath who had control of youthful minds and connections to a great deal of people in L.A. during the 1960s and that time was a mess of crossing lines, cultures and decadence fueled with ego. Manson muddles with famous musicians, Hollywood types and law enforcement. Of course it would be no surprise that Manson or any of his associates would be at the same party as Tate or even Steve McQueen. Drug and hippy culture was somewhat synonymous with some of the jet set actors of the time. It was a strange era. Manson was charismatic and violent. The philosophy and power of his Helter Skelter as his life began spiraling out of control (the feds coming down, being shunned by the jet set) led to the murders, it all came to that tragic and unnecessary point.

O'Neill's interviews with those LAPD / LASO involved are just as strange as the case itself. A lot of error in procedure seems to have happened. Guess what? Stuff like that still happens today. The book attempts to debunk the Helter Skelter bible, but only sites oddities and coincidences, failed police procedures and his general dislike of Bugliosi's way he went about getting Manson and the other murderers convicted. It was an extraordinary, unique case- nothing ever like it- that had to be tried in a unique and extraordinary way.

The book is intriguing, but never solidly builds a case. It's kind of like Oliver Stone's JFK movie with a Kitty Kelley vibe, and throws a bunch of different conspiracies at you, but never fully rounds out any of them.

Just another Manson book in the Manson kingdom. ( )
  noblechicken | Sep 5, 2019 |
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A journalist's twenty-year fascination with the Manson murders leads to shocking new revelations about the FBI's involvement in this riveting reassessment of an infamous case in American history. Over two grim nights in Los Angeles, the young followers of Charles Manson murdered seven people, including the actress Sharon Tate, then eight months pregnant. With no mercy and seemingly no motive, the Manson Family followed their leader's every order -- their crimes lit a flame of paranoia across the nation, spelling the end of the sixties. Manson became one of history's most infamous criminals, his name forever attached to an era when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love was as possible as brainwashing, and utopia -- or dystopia -- was just an acid trip away. Twenty years ago, when journalist Tom O'Neill was reporting a magazine piece about the murders, he worried there was nothing new to say. Then he unearthed shocking evidence of a cover-up behind the "official" story, including police carelessness, legal misconduct, and potential surveillance by intelligence agents. When a tense interview with Vincent Bugliosi -- prosecutor of the Manson Family and author of Helter Skelter -- turned a friendly source into a nemesis, O'Neill knew he was onto something. But every discovery brought more questions: Who were Manson's real friends in Hollywood, and how far would they go to hide their ties? Why didn't law enforcement, including Manson's own parole officer, act on their many chances to stop him? And how did Manson -- an illiterate ex-con -- turn a group of peaceful hippies into remorseless killers? O'Neill's quest for the truth led him from reclusive celebrities to seasoned spies, from San Francisco's summer of love to the shadowy sites of the CIA's mind-control experiments, on a trail rife with shady cover-ups and suspicious coincidences. The product of two decades of reporting, hundreds of new interviews, and dozens of never-before-seen documents from the LAPD, the FBI, and the CIA, Chaos mounts an argument that could be, according to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Steven Kay, strong enough to overturn the verdicts on the Manson murders. This is a book that overturns our understanding of a pivotal time in American history.

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