Chaos
A journalist's twenty-year obsession with the Manson murders brings shocking revelations about the most infamous crimes in American history: carelessness from police, misconduct by prosecutors, and even potential surveillance by intelligence agents. What really happened in 1969? In 1999, when Tom O'Neill was assigned a magazine piece about the thirtieth anniversary of the Manson murders, he worried there was nothing new to say. Weren't the facts indisputable? Charles Manson had ordered his teenage followers to commit seven brutal murders, and in his thrall, they'd gladly complied. But when O'Neill began reporting the story, he kept finding holes in the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's narrative, long enshrined in the best-selling Helter Skelter. Before long, O'Neill had questions about everything from the motive to the manhunt. Though he'd never considered himself a conspiracy theorist, the Manson murders swallowed the next two decades of his career. He was obsessed. Searching but never speculative, CHAOS follows O'Neill's twenty-year effort to rebut the "official" story behind Manson. Who were his real friends in Hollywood, and how far would they go to hide their ties? Why didn't law enforcement act on their many chances to stop him? And how did he turn a group of peaceful hippies into remorseless killers? O'Neill's hunt for answers leads him from reclusive celebrities to seasoned spies, from the Summer of Love to the shadowy sites of the CIA's mind-control experiments, on a trail rife with cover-ups and coincidences. Featuring 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 Stephen Kay, strong enough to overturn the verdicts on the Manson murders. In those two dark nights in Los Angeles, O'Neill finds the story of California in the sixties: when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love was as possible as brainwashing, and utopia-or dystopia-was just an acid trip away.

Chaos Details

TitleChaos
Author
ReleaseJun 25th, 2019
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
Rating
GenreCrime, True Crime, Nonfiction, History, Mystery

Chaos Review

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    ”Manson himself had a fondness for the same phrase: ‘I am the man in the mirror,’ he said. ‘Anything you see in me is in you, I am you, and when you can admit that you will be free.” Who is Charles Manson?This book began as a 5000 word piece for Premiere Magazine with the subject expected to be Manson and Hollywood. Tom O’Neill did not make that magazine deadline or even the deadline after that. His concept of the narrative and the research had grown well beyond the parameters of the original st ”Manson himself had a fondness for the same phrase: ‘I am the man in the mirror,’ he said. ‘Anything you see in me is in you, I am you, and when you can admit that you will be free.” Who is Charles Manson?This book began as a 5000 word piece for Premiere Magazine with the subject expected to be Manson and Hollywood. Tom O’Neill did not make that magazine deadline or even the deadline after that. His concept of the narrative and the research had grown well beyond the parameters of the original story idea. The deeper he delved into Manson the more lines for further enquiry he discovered. What was supposed to be an assignment that would take a few weeks took two decades. It became an all consuming obsession. And here we are. Manson was famous for his ability to manipulate people into doing what he wanted. I still feel like he is doing that to us now. Every time I hear or see anything regarding Manson, my ears perk up. I know I’m not alone. A whole nation was rivetted to the events of the Tate-LaBianc murder trial. Even people who were born long after the events in 1969 are enthralled with the need to know why. Tom O’Neill became so caught up in researching Manson that he lost two decades of his life to the pursuit of the real truth.I definitely benefited from reading Helter Skelter before reading O’Neill’s book because of the time spent discussing the actual trial that is not covered as thoroughly in Chaos. O’Neill broke down what Vincent Bugliosi got right, uncovered some of what he suppressed, and dug into the vital information that Bugliosi never bothered to pursue. The truth proved elusive after so many years. Witnesses had died, memories had become faulty, and key people refused to talk about their role in what is looking like a much bigger conspiracy that goes well beyond murder. Now how could the CIA possibly be involved with Manson? I asked myself, was this on par with the conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination? There were two secret missions one launched by the CIA, called Chaos, and the other by the FBI, called COINTELPRO. They had the same objective to infiltrate groups like the Black Panthers and actually incite violence to discredit the organization. If you remember, that was part of Manson’s supposed objective as well with the murders, to try and convince law enforcement that they were committed by the Black Panthers. There was another program launched by the CIA called MKULTRA which was exploring the effects of LSD and how it could lead to the creation of malleable assassins. They even had an operation called Midnight Climax which was bordellos set up in San Francisco for the explicit purpose of drugging johns with LSD to see how it affected them. So if you visited a brothel in San Francisco in the 1960s and had an experience unlike anything you’d ever encountered before, you very well might have been drugged by the CIA. I hope you had a good time anyway, but really, with all seriousness...what the frill? It isn’t even legal for the CIA to operate on American soil. There were a lot of government/private programs in San Francisco exploring the potential uses of LSD, and it was during that year that Manson spent in San Francisco that he became Manson the Guru, the grand manipulator. He dropped LSD for the first time and emerged from the experience a prophet. So how could he be so good at manipulating people, especially young women, into becoming mindless, murderous followers? Bugliosi notated.”It might be something he learned from others.” Could it even be conceivable that Manson was trained by the CIA as part of what should have been illegal programs? So why were Manson and many of his followers arrested many times over the months before the murder and simply turned loose? Was there a phone call?I just want to warn you that the revelations in this book are going to blow your mind without dropping LSD. There are peripheral, shadowy characters all around the events of the Manson murders. Terry Melcher, Doris Day’s son, had promised Manson a record deal and then reneged on it, or rather Doris said...hell, no. Melcher, fearing for his life, moved out of 10050 Cielo Drive rather abruptly but then visited Manson three times...wait for it...after the murders. He testified in court that he had not seen Manson after such and such a date, way before the murders. Okay, so let's just say there are holes in what we know about what really happened, large enough to drive a semi trailer through. How do we know what we know? Helter Skelter. Why are so many people still lying or unwilling to talk about what they know?Tom O’Neill dug up so many odd inconsistencies that it was only by Bugliosi keeping a firm control over what could and could not be discussed in the trial that all or some of the clandestine operations surrounding the murders did not come to light. They had their boogeyman, and he was a legitimate menace to society, and now all they needed to do was put him behind bars. All of America was now terrified of the hippy movement and of the potential for a race war. Ultimately at the end of the day no one wanted anything coming to light that would jeopardize prosecuting Manson. I don’t disagree with that being the primary objective because he was a true menace to society. It makes me nervous to think about the crimes behind the crimes. So yeah, O’Neill, with a preponderance of evidence has made me rethink everything I thought I knew about Manson, the murders, and the real motives behind everything. As if the Manson murders were not sensational enough, it was even more disturbing to discover the criminal behavior by our government that just happened to intersect with Charles Manson. It was simply unconscionable what the government was doing in the 1960s under the guise of insuring the well being of the American people. Through misinformation and misdirection, they created hate and misunderstanding that we are still dealing with today. Manson wasn’t the grand manipulator. The US government was the grand manipulator. ”’The sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969...The tension broke that day. The paranoia was fulfilled.’”---Joan Didion The White AlbumI want to thank Little, Brown for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    This was a wild ride. The author was assigned to write an article for Premier magazine about the effects the Manson murders had on the community for the upcoming thirtieth anniversary of the savagery. He spent the next two decades consumed by his investigations. This book is the result of his fixation. What he learned contradicted many things in Bugliosi’s bestselling Helter Skelter. On top of that, a lot of events and people were simply omitted from Helter Skelter and certainly weren’t included This was a wild ride. The author was assigned to write an article for Premier magazine about the effects the Manson murders had on the community for the upcoming thirtieth anniversary of the savagery. He spent the next two decades consumed by his investigations. This book is the result of his fixation. What he learned contradicted many things in Bugliosi’s bestselling Helter Skelter. On top of that, a lot of events and people were simply omitted from Helter Skelter and certainly weren’t included in the courtroom. So he went in search of what actually occurred. To use the vernacular of the time, what he found was mind-blowing. From judicial carelessness to CIA infiltration to FBI smear campaigns to LSD mind-control experiments; O’Neill found it all and then some. Is he a conspiracy theorist? I don’t think so but did he find out what really happened?
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    I am shelving this book as unfinished and unrated for now. As I have eye surgery scheduled for this week and next I need to switch to something shorter and less demanding in time and details. It is almost 600 pages of small print. Well, I went back to the book and found it tedious, and was feeling I had spent the entire 20 years of the author’s painstaking research and interviews tagging along behind him or listening in. I feel 20 years older than when I started the book. If there is anything a I am shelving this book as unfinished and unrated for now. As I have eye surgery scheduled for this week and next I need to switch to something shorter and less demanding in time and details. It is almost 600 pages of small print. Well, I went back to the book and found it tedious, and was feeling I had spent the entire 20 years of the author’s painstaking research and interviews tagging along behind him or listening in. I feel 20 years older than when I started the book. If there is anything about too much information, this seemed to be a prime example. Trashing the reputation of the victims was revealing but unfortunate. I remember the murders and trial and read the book Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi when it was first published, and so was anxious to continue. Those familiar with the horrific murders have already learned that the Polanski mansion where the Manson murders took place was previously the residence of Terry Melcher, record producer and son of Doris Day. Melcher knew Charles Manson. What Tom O'Neill reveals in his 20 years of meticulous research and interviews is that Polanski's home became a hangout for famous celebrities and big-time drug dealers. Some of these drug dealers knew Charles Manson. A-list actors, other celebrities and criminals wandered through the mansion almost at will. Sharon Tate, the beautiful actress and pregnant wife of Roman Polanski was subjected to abuse, and the mansion became known in some circles as a place of orgies, rape, heavy drug use and other depraved activities. The author quotes the saying, " Live weird, die weird."It is evident that O'Neill rejects Bugliosi's conclusion about the motive, and feels this was not a random act by an unknown gang of hippies. He cites legal misconduct, poor police investigation, mind control experiments and cover-ups. What were the connections between the uneducated, illiterate Manson and some of the rich and famous celebrities and hardened criminals who frequented the Polanski home? How was Charles Manson able to exert such control over former peaceful hippies? He suggests some tenuous connection between the CIA drug induced mind control experiments and the power Manson exerted over his followers. As the author claims, there are some details written about the case which were wrong, but I don't feel I learned much new which was relevant.
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  • Chuck
    January 1, 1970
    Stayed up all night reading this one. Without a doubt the most mind blowing book I've read in a while. I'm not sure what to believe now, but if this guy's even half sane the Charles Manson story is a much different story than we've all been led to believe. My mind is BLOWN.
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  • Natalie Carbery
    January 1, 1970
    Take a deep breath. Consider everything you think you know about the Manson Family. Breathe out. This book is one man's journey (one that absolutely consumed his life) to find the truth in the hazy pockets of the Manson trial. O'Neill takes his readers down plenty of rabbit holes based in his own suspicions and questions. Why is it that some major witnesses not called to testify? How did a known convict slip through every possibly crack until it resulted in some of America's most famous and grap Take a deep breath. Consider everything you think you know about the Manson Family. Breathe out. This book is one man's journey (one that absolutely consumed his life) to find the truth in the hazy pockets of the Manson trial. O'Neill takes his readers down plenty of rabbit holes based in his own suspicions and questions. Why is it that some major witnesses not called to testify? How did a known convict slip through every possibly crack until it resulted in some of America's most famous and graphic murders? How is it that stories that are forever changing and evolving not questioned by higher courts? Does Chaos dabble in conspiracy? A little bit. At times O'Neill walks the line between deep research and conjecture/pure speculation. That said, I don't think that he ever gives up his credibility. It is easy to read Chaos as a memoir of an obsession. O'Neill is candid about the way he lived his life while researching and the many hits he took along the way. That candor might be one of the most powerful parts of the book. In Manson we have a controlling and dangerous psychopath. In O'Neill we find someone under his spell but outside of his influence. If anything, this book is worth reading to experience the rich and often times scary lengths that O'Neill will go to find the answers he feels the world deserves.
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  • TERRY
    January 1, 1970
    Tom O'Neill has done some serious research for his book and raises some good questions. But the book is very convoluted, full of theories and conjecture. Many of O'Neill's leads and theories were all over the place. I kept waiting for the aha moment to come as to what really happened in 1969. His dislike of Vincent Bugliosi is palpable. It was a tedious read for me. I received my copy through a Goodreads Giveaway for my honest review.
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  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    This book is nothing but bonkers conspiracy theories AND I LOVED EVERY MOMENT OF IT!
  • Lynn Hill
    January 1, 1970
    What an interesting and thought provoking book. It really does make one wonder just what lies we get told. Thank you Tom for this great book!
  • John Katsanakis
    January 1, 1970
    The first thing you should know about this book is that it’s less a conspiracy theory tome and more a narrative following the author’s 20 year investigation— and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s all the better for this. Author O’Neill freely admits when he hit a dead end or failed to prove something. What he is able to prove is exciting and interesting enough, but what kept me hooked throughout was following his journey. If you’re coming into this book expecting to find a new mind blowing conspira The first thing you should know about this book is that it’s less a conspiracy theory tome and more a narrative following the author’s 20 year investigation— and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s all the better for this. Author O’Neill freely admits when he hit a dead end or failed to prove something. What he is able to prove is exciting and interesting enough, but what kept me hooked throughout was following his journey. If you’re coming into this book expecting to find a new mind blowing conspiracy, look elsewhere. This is closer in nature to the recent movie, Spotlight. Highly recommended.
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  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    Holy cow, that was a RIDE. Like any good conspiracy/hidden history book, ultimately there’s no answer and Tom O’Neill doesn’t claim to have one. But he spent twenty years uncovering a ridiculous number of threads, suppressed evidence, lies officially stamped by law enforcement, and outright prosecutorial misconduct and suborning perjury at Vincent Bugliosi’s hands. There’s a lot here to shock and delight any fan of conspiracies in history. As an aside, if you’ve read David McGowan’s Weird Scenes Holy cow, that was a RIDE. Like any good conspiracy/hidden history book, ultimately there’s no answer and Tom O’Neill doesn’t claim to have one. But he spent twenty years uncovering a ridiculous number of threads, suppressed evidence, lies officially stamped by law enforcement, and outright prosecutorial misconduct and suborning perjury at Vincent Bugliosi’s hands. There’s a lot here to shock and delight any fan of conspiracies in history. As an aside, if you’ve read David McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, CHAOS is a great companion piece to it.
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  • Gram
    January 1, 1970
    The title of this book is misleading. Although Charles Manson and the reasons for the horrific murders his followers carried out on his orders is described in detail, large parts of the story are merely a regurgitation of facts already known about the 1960's, such as the CIA's "Operation CHAOS" and FBI's Cointelpro - aimed at disrupting and discrediting various protest organisations of the time, the incredible tale of Louis Jolyon "Jolly" West - a noted psychiatrist who was involved the CIA's mi The title of this book is misleading. Although Charles Manson and the reasons for the horrific murders his followers carried out on his orders is described in detail, large parts of the story are merely a regurgitation of facts already known about the 1960's, such as the CIA's "Operation CHAOS" and FBI's Cointelpro - aimed at disrupting and discrediting various protest organisations of the time, the incredible tale of Louis Jolyon "Jolly" West - a noted psychiatrist who was involved the CIA's mind control program, Project MKUltra and who may possibly have met Charles Manson because he was in San Francisco at the same time as the cult leader. O'Neill even ventures into the murky world of the multitude of conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and provides a wealth of detail about various counterculture events which shaped the latter half of the 1960's.The author's scattergun approach to reporting becomes steadily more wearing and having waded through three quarters of this book, I found myself skipping pages in a bid to finish what had become a tedious job of trying to give a comprehensive review O'Neill's work. He admits that his investigation became an obsession with 190 volumes of notes on witness interviews and thousands of legal documents he studied over a 20 year period. One the plus side, he does reveal many discrepancies surrounding the trial of Charles Manson and "The Family" as his followers were known. For example, Shahrokh Hatami, personal photographer to the murder victim, actress Sharon Tate, tells O’Neill that he learned of the murders by telephone, from an an alleged intelligence agent named Reeve Whitson, 90 minutes before the police were called to the murder scene. Hatami - an Iranian immigrant - alleges that Whitson and prosecution attorney Vincent Bugliosi then coerced his testimony by threatening him with deportation.A deputy District Attorney discloses that was ordered to ensure Manson’s name did not come up in evidence in the murder trial of Bobby Beausoleil several weeks before Manson was implicated in the Tate-La Bianca killings. Beausoleil was found guilty of the murder of his friend Gary Hinman, an associate of Manson who, Manson claimed, had stolen money from him.He also uncovers interviews with witnesses that were withheld from Manson's defence lawyers and statements from Los Angeles police detectives who insist that vital evidence in the case was destroyed. I believe this book would be a far better read if it had been properly edited to remove some of the blind alleys which O'Neill drags the reader down and many of the pointless interviews with witnesses who contradict his allegations or can't remember events from 40 or 50 years ago. The author also seems to have some sort of vendetta against prosecutor Bugliosi who wrote a book, "Helter Skelter" about the Manson Family murders which became the best selling true crime book of all time. To be fair, O'Neill does show up many glaring deficiencies in the prosecution case as well as puzzling failures of police and social workers to have Manson returned to jail after he committed several criminal acts while on probation.For anyone who has no knowledge of Charles Manson, the Tate-La Bianca murders, various conspiracy theories and the drug culture and sexual mores of the 1960's, "Chaos" would be a good place to start. But the book is still far too long and, despite O'Neill's best efforts, there's no satisfactory conclusion to his investigation.
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  • Debi
    January 1, 1970
    I am still in awe and processing what I just finished reading but first, I must congratulate Mr. O'Neill on this book. I would definitely like to shake his hand for still standing after the 20 year journey he took in getting to the last page.I have a pretty good grasp of Manson and his case which started years ago probably after seeing a rerun of the TV version of 'Helter Skelter but he definitely puts it in a different light....one that makes me really consider the possibilities that he puts fo I am still in awe and processing what I just finished reading but first, I must congratulate Mr. O'Neill on this book. I would definitely like to shake his hand for still standing after the 20 year journey he took in getting to the last page.I have a pretty good grasp of Manson and his case which started years ago probably after seeing a rerun of the TV version of 'Helter Skelter but he definitely puts it in a different light....one that makes me really consider the possibilities that he puts forth in his book. I haven't believed in the 'story' that Vincent Bugliosi told in court to convict the family in years...after really studying it in college and beyond but I did shake his hand and had him sign my old beat up copy of 'Helter Skelter' at a lecture series near my home a number of years ago. I didn't realize what a sociopath the man was until recently.I appreciate the fact that Mr. O'Neill doesn't force his ideas or beliefs on the reader and that he leaves most open to interpretation where Jolly West and his possible connection to Manson in The Haight and the LSD experiments. My reason for being so curious about this case has always been simply this....how did a tiny 5'2" felon with minimal education and reading skills get to the point where he was able to force his ideologies on these young people causing 50 years of fascination on a case that people should have long forgotten?! I do believe that some likely reasons are put forth in this book. I have been telling friends and co-workers to look into this book because it is quite good.I read this through my library because it wasn't in my budget to buy yet but I will absolutely purchase it somewhere down the road.
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  • Sasha
    January 1, 1970
    First I would like to state that I have received this book through the Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity and honor in being able to read this book. When I received this book I began reading it at once. This book was a very interesting read. It pulls you in and keeps you wanting to find out more. I would recommend this.
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  • Christina Ellsberg
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. I was up until 4 am several nights because I couldn’t put it down. Thorough, intricate, and utterly riveting. I am impressed and horrified by the work that went into this account.
  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    I'll read just about anything on Manson but this, sadly, was just as the title implied -- chaos.
  • Lynn Hill
    January 1, 1970
    What an interesting and thought provoking book. It really does make one wonder just what lies we get told. Thank you Tom for this great book!
  • Janice Lombardo
    January 1, 1970
    Intense and thorough research into to 60's and 70's. Since I was in college in the 60's - I found this read extremely interesting! Fascinating - yet this book opens up even more avenues to question. I read Helter Skelter decades ago, as did my mom and my friends. However, that book pales in comparison to Tom O'Neill's CHAOS.A poignant story of the Manson Murders. Also includes the Manson Family, JFK assassination, Black Panthers, Jolly Wes,t Haight-Asbury, the FBI, and so much more. I enjoyed th Intense and thorough research into to 60's and 70's. Since I was in college in the 60's - I found this read extremely interesting! Fascinating - yet this book opens up even more avenues to question. I read Helter Skelter decades ago, as did my mom and my friends. However, that book pales in comparison to Tom O'Neill's CHAOS.A poignant story of the Manson Murders. Also includes the Manson Family, JFK assassination, Black Panthers, Jolly Wes,t Haight-Asbury, the FBI, and so much more. I enjoyed this book and read furiously.The only question I have is: why not publish SOMETHING sooner since Tom was indeed that low on money at the time? This book involves an intricate look into the fascinating 60's and 70's that is truly invaluable!MANY thanks to Little, Brown, and Company - Hachette Book Group & NetGalley!
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  • Jake
    January 1, 1970
    I view conspiracy theories the same way agnostics view God: if a conspiracy existed, it would have to be quite large and involve an incredible amount of competent people who are both good and lucky and have incentives to keep their mouths shut. Thus, that makes conspiracies unlikely…but not impossible. I don’t submit to 9/11 conspiracy theories but even now, I still can’t fully accept that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman. I don’t know.Anyway, rather than playing with just one conspiracy, Tom I view conspiracy theories the same way agnostics view God: if a conspiracy existed, it would have to be quite large and involve an incredible amount of competent people who are both good and lucky and have incentives to keep their mouths shut. Thus, that makes conspiracies unlikely…but not impossible. I don’t submit to 9/11 conspiracy theories but even now, I still can’t fully accept that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman. I don’t know.Anyway, rather than playing with just one conspiracy, Tom O’Neill (with an assist from Dan Piepenbring) decides to dangle the loose threads surrounding the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders rather than try and wrap them up. I appreciated that. There’s no unifying alternate theory presented for why Manson’s “family” committed those horribly gruesome crimes. Rather, you see all the problems with Vincent Bugliosi’s narrative about the killers being brainwashed hippies who were rebelling against society in an evil fashion.I know very little about the Manson murders. I tried to read Helter Skelter but couldn’t get over Bugliosi’s obnoxious self-aggrandizing (same problem with On Such A Full Sea). I also don’t have a fascination with 60s counterculture. So this really isn’t in my wheelhouse. However, I’m going to see Quentin Tarantino’s new movie this Friday, which is set against the background of late-60s Hollywood and features Manson and his followers. Therefore, I decided to learn more through this book.O’Neill (and Piepenbring) aren’t the best writers: the book has typos, grammar issues, and glaring factual inaccuracies. It also leans heavily on conjecture, to the point where every time O’Neill reveals something, he’s practically nudging me with his elbow going “Eh? Eh? Pretty fishy, eh?”Also, O’Neill overlooks the bigger problem with prosecuting Manson and his comrades: it’s not that Bugliosi had a narrative. It’s that in our criminal justice system, you need to have a narrative in order to prosecute a case. That’s part of the reason why our system needs a massive overhaul. He brandishes these tidbits that show Bugliosi suppressed evidence or ignored it altogether. I guess I was supposed to be more surprised than I was? Perhaps I’m too cynical, but just about every prosecutor does that.Now the bigger question is to why. O’Neill posits that Manson skated on his parole and was allowed to live freely despite spending large parts of his life in prison because he was perhaps protected. By who? We don’t know, though there’s a lot of suspicion that the government had something to do with it. That could be the case but I don’t know. I think it was a combination of lack of resources combined with primitive technology and a general indifference.Anytime there’s a murder outside of the typical “person closest to the victim” sphere, you could look at so many things and wonder why the big picture doesn’t always add up. It frightens us that there might not be a reason, or that the reason may be flimsy at best. To me, it’s just a sign of our animalistic nature. Who knows what the heck compelled the Mansonites to kill those people. I could believe LSD-inspired brainwashing. I could believe something else. People often get their motivations from their environments. I actually think the title is more apt than O’Neill allows it to be. Our 50-year saga of processing the 60s has always been looking for reasons as to why things happen. Rarely do we admit how close we are to chaos.Whatever the case may be, this book is eminently readable and if you like reading about the Manson murders or conspiracy theories, you should check it out.
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  • Missy (myweereads)
    January 1, 1970
    “I am the man in the mirror, anything you see in me is in you, I am you, and when you can admit that you will be free..” - Charles MansonChaos by Tom O’Neil is one inane ride into a mans two decade long obsession with what went down during the summer of love. What was suppose to be a magazine article to see the impact the Manson murders had on the community turned into a two decade long obsession. Tom looks at a plethora of theories surrounding the case of the Tate and La Bianca murders. He rais “I am the man in the mirror, anything you see in me is in you, I am you, and when you can admit that you will be free..” - Charles MansonChaos by Tom O’Neil is one inane ride into a mans two decade long obsession with what went down during the summer of love. What was suppose to be a magazine article to see the impact the Manson murders had on the community turned into a two decade long obsession. Tom looks at a plethora of theories surrounding the case of the Tate and La Bianca murders. He raises questions regarding who within Hollywood was Manson’s real friend, was anybody covering up for him?, why did the law not react to the Family and Manson’s actions sooner? did the law know exactly what was going to happen before it did?I love a good conspiracy theory and boy is this book full of them. It shades light on conversations, actions and possible ties which I did not see whilst reading Helter Skelter. It puts Bugliosi on the line, possibly disapproving the verdict of the trial and his entire case. It’s also obvious from the outset that Tom O’Neil isn’t a fan of Bugliosi and the further you read the more you learn of the interactions they had with each other.What I found to be bizarre was when his findings take him to CIA experiments, it was at the point I thought is this really a theory or is he clutching at straws? What is blatantly apparent is that although O’Neil has done some thorough research he is not saying that his findings are the real truth.I am a huge true crime fan and so if you give me a book about Manson or any serial killer i’ll be sure to read it cover to cover to fuel my obsession and I think that’s what Chaos provides. It gives a new look at a case surrounding Charles Manson and his Family. It’s looking at it from the eyes of Tom O’Neil and giving us something new to think about.A definite must read for fans of true crime.
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  • Jeff Suwak
    January 1, 1970
    I've been fairly obsessed with the Manson case for years, particularly its implications regarding the covert operations being carried out at that time. I thought I knew about as much as anyone out there...and then I read this book. This work is about so, so much more than the Manson Family. The author apparently sacrificed a lot to conduct decades of research, but I hope he knows that from my perspective anyway it was infinitely worth it. This book goes as long as any book I can thin of in shedd I've been fairly obsessed with the Manson case for years, particularly its implications regarding the covert operations being carried out at that time. I thought I knew about as much as anyone out there...and then I read this book. This work is about so, so much more than the Manson Family. The author apparently sacrificed a lot to conduct decades of research, but I hope he knows that from my perspective anyway it was infinitely worth it. This book goes as long as any book I can thin of in shedding light on the secret influences of that most revolutionary of decades called the 60s. I dislike using words like "important" when talking about books. It sounds pompous to me. But, there's no way around it. I think this book is important reading for people to understand this nation's history, particularly the history of its intelligence agencies and how they acted (act?) from the shadows to shape the nation. This isn't a partisan issue. It's a real shame that the subject has been turned into a "pro-Trump" or "anti-Trump" talking point. This stuff crosses the aisle. Though, I guess I should add I actually sometimes find myself sympathetic to things like COINTELPRO and CHAOS...because whether or not they were "good" or "evil" really depends entirely on whether or not there actually was a concerted Soviet campaign to undermine U.S. culture from within.If that effort really existed, then COINTELPRO and CHAOS, ugly as they were, might have helped save the nation. If there was actually no Soviet/revolutionary influence and the hippies were just hippies, then those programs are irredeemably evil. As with anything, the answer likely lies in the middle.But, surely I am rambling...I thought this book was absolutely fantastic. I'm going to move on to Days of Rage now and then read this one again. It's very rare I read a book twice cover to cover. That's about as high praise as I can think of.
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  • Lynn Keith
    January 1, 1970
    FascinatingThis was an amazing, fascinating read. I picked it up on a whim and really didn't expect to be pulled into it the way I was. After all, everyone over a certain age knows all about Charlie Manson and the murders. I read "Helter Skelter" in high school. I took it as gospel. Now I know it's not. In high school, it is normal for everything to be black or white. As we get older we see that most things are actually valued in shades of gray. This was true for the causes of the murders. The b FascinatingThis was an amazing, fascinating read. I picked it up on a whim and really didn't expect to be pulled into it the way I was. After all, everyone over a certain age knows all about Charlie Manson and the murders. I read "Helter Skelter" in high school. I took it as gospel. Now I know it's not. In high school, it is normal for everything to be black or white. As we get older we see that most things are actually valued in shades of gray. This was true for the causes of the murders. The book did an excellent job of viewing the sixties through the unique event of the Manson murders. Many hidden factors were dragged into the light. I was quite obsessed with this book.
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  • Lisa Mancini
    January 1, 1970
    If you want to know about Charles Manson and his 'family' then read HELTER SKELTER by Vince Bugliosi. This book reads like a pamphlet compared to Bugliosi' s comprehensive tome.
  • Natalie Carbery
    January 1, 1970
    Take a deep breath. Consider everything you think you know about the Manson Family. Breathe out. This book is one man's journey (one that absolutely consumed his life) to find the truth in the hazy pockets of the Manson trial. O'Neill takes his readers down plenty of rabbit holes based in his own suspicions and questions. Why is it that some major witnesses not called to testify? How did a known convict slip through every possibly crack until it resulted in some of America's most famous and grap Take a deep breath. Consider everything you think you know about the Manson Family. Breathe out. This book is one man's journey (one that absolutely consumed his life) to find the truth in the hazy pockets of the Manson trial. O'Neill takes his readers down plenty of rabbit holes based in his own suspicions and questions. Why is it that some major witnesses not called to testify? How did a known convict slip through every possibly crack until it resulted in some of America's most famous and graphic murders? How is it that stories that are forever changing and evolving not questioned by higher courts? Does Chaos dabble in conspiracy? A little bit. At times O'Neill walks the line between deep research and conjecture/pure speculation. That said, I don't think that he ever gives up his credibility. It is easy to read Chaos as a memoir of an obsession. O'Neill is candid about the way he lived his life while researching and the many hits he took along the way. That candor might be one of the most powerful parts of the book. In Manson we have a controlling and dangerous psychopath. In O'Neill we find someone under his spell but outside of his influence. If anything, this book is worth reading to experience the rich and often times scary lengths that O'Neill will go to find the answers he feels the world deserves.
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  • Sean Jamieson
    January 1, 1970
    This is such a thought provoking read. The amount of never before seen documentation on the subject of the Manson murders - uncovered by the author, is quite staggering. All this new information had my mind racing to connect the dots, yet dreading where it all might lead. After all these years and all the press, I thought I knew this subject cold, but it turns out that the twenty years of gumshoeing by the author just changed all that. Great book. Highly recommend!
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  • John Owen
    January 1, 1970
    I cannot believe how interesting and insane everything in Chaos is. It makes me badly want to go around uncovering things.
  • Laura Newsholme
    January 1, 1970
    There is an awful lot to take in here, but ultimately I found the book pretty unsatisfying because as the author asks himself frequently throughout, where does it all go? This details the investigation into Charles Manson and the Family following the brutal Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969, but also looks at the various inconsistencies in the prosecution's case, the possible links between Manson and the CIA and consequently the Kennedy Assassination. For me, while the author has clearly dedicated t There is an awful lot to take in here, but ultimately I found the book pretty unsatisfying because as the author asks himself frequently throughout, where does it all go? This details the investigation into Charles Manson and the Family following the brutal Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969, but also looks at the various inconsistencies in the prosecution's case, the possible links between Manson and the CIA and consequently the Kennedy Assassination. For me, while the author has clearly dedicated two decades to gathering the information contained in the book, there doesn't seem to be a narrative thread that effectively links all of the disparate pieces together. As a result, it reads like several different chapters about different things rather than a cohesive argument. Similarly, I was a little disappointed that the focus is so diffuse. Rather than zero in on one inconsistency and create a narrative around that, O'Neill tries too hard to include everything, which just makes for a bit of an outfacing read. Overall, there is definitely some very interesting stuff here - the chapters on MKULTRA and LSD were particularly fascinating - but it just doesn't hang together very well.I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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  • Matthew Pugliese
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed digging into this. It's a fascinating look into one of the wildest times in American history.
  • Space
    January 1, 1970
    A tedious read, full of speculation and discoveries that reveal not much of anything. For a book about Manson there is surprisingly little about Manson or the Manson Family. Tom O’Neil writes that he interviewed 1000 people for the book, which is a shocking number considering no one who was actually a part of the Manson Family appears in the book! I don’t know if they wouldn’t talk to him, or he couldn’t find them, but O’Neil spends a lot of time describing his search for primary sources (lawyer A tedious read, full of speculation and discoveries that reveal not much of anything. For a book about Manson there is surprisingly little about Manson or the Manson Family. Tom O’Neil writes that he interviewed 1000 people for the book, which is a shocking number considering no one who was actually a part of the Manson Family appears in the book! I don’t know if they wouldn’t talk to him, or he couldn’t find them, but O’Neil spends a lot of time describing his search for primary sources (lawyers and cops) yet he doesn’t seem interested in the Familythemselves. O’Neil makes big claims based on poor evidence and seems fond of unreliable sources. As a reader it was hard I stay with his enthusiasm for his own process. I found the character assassination of the victims to be unnecessary and exploitive, and ultimately added nothing to O’Neil’s search for the truth (which he never finds).
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  • Janice Lombardo
    January 1, 1970
    An intricate and exciting review of the 60's and 70's!
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    This was a good reminder that the human tendency for superstition and magical thinking is not limited to religious ideology. Oooo MK Ultra! Oooo the CIA! Ooooo the Kennedy Assassination. Drugs turn you into mindless automatons capable of everything under the sun! We're all government puppets! If person A happens to be in the same part of the country as person B in the same time period then they must be colluding in something nefarious! If person A knew person B before person B did something atro This was a good reminder that the human tendency for superstition and magical thinking is not limited to religious ideology. Oooo MK Ultra! Oooo the CIA! Ooooo the Kennedy Assassination. Drugs turn you into mindless automatons capable of everything under the sun! We're all government puppets! If person A happens to be in the same part of the country as person B in the same time period then they must be colluding in something nefarious! If person A knew person B before person B did something atrocious then person A must have some insider knowledge on government experiments on person B. There's just no other explanation! Everything is spooky! Everything is a conspiracy! The absence of evidence is evidence! People being annoyed by ridiculous insinuations and admitting they can't remember things from 40 years ago is evasion and lying! The criminal justice system and probation/parole system were more loosey goosey in the 60s (towards white people)? Shocker! Vincent Bugliosi concocted some story about the murders that doesn't match with reality? Of course he did. It happens all the time in criminal prosecution - even when the accused is guilty of the crime. Vincent Bugliosi is a turd with no integrity? Apparently. None of that changes the fact that Charles Manson is nothing but a basic criminal who led a group of people who did some heinous shit. Manson wasn't some living embodiment of a boogeyman with superhuman guru powers. He was a creepy little dude who preyed on the vulnerable. It's really that simple. Further, the random cast of characters who may or may not have inhabited the fringes of this story are standard shady shitheads. Not covert operatives of some past deep state.I really expected this book to uncover serious misdeeds in the prosecution of the Manson family with some conspiracy sprinkled in for flavor. But all I got was a brief rundown of typical bullshit that happens in most prosecutions like this followed by HOURS of speculation about POTENTIAL conspiracies that MAY be indicated by various pieces of entirely VAGUE "evidence." Had I known what I was getting myself into I would not have picked this up.
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