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Chaos - Tom O'Neill & Dan Piepenbring


By Tom O'Neill & Dan Piepenbring

  • Release Date: 2019-06-25
  • Genre: True Crime
Score: 4.5
From 207 Ratings


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.


  • First book I’ve read in 10 years.

    By TannMann67
    Only complaint I have is that I finished it. Killer reporting.
  • Lame

    By turg2323
    Seems to overreach... Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter theory was Charlie’s delusion, but his true motive was to deflect heat onto the Black Panthers, who he feared and knew would make a convenient scapegoat for killing Hinman. And yes, this was all because his aspirations of rock stardom were dashed, and he knew the Family was falling apart. This book tries to overcomplicate the banality of evil, and fails to make any tangible connection between Charlie and the government. One new insight is that Vincent Bugliosi is clearly unstable. Overall, not worth the 500+ pages of dead ends, circumstantial innuendos, and investigatory dead-ends. A valiant if not somewhat sad attempt at a big scoop with little to no substantiation.
  • Compelling In Its Details, Refreshing In Its Lack of Finality

    By JohnMatthewGrey
    It’s impossible to read this book and come away believing that it’s anything less than a labour of love. Far too many paths of least resistance were eschewed to view its writing cynically. The cynicism comes wholly from the damning picture it paints of the political and intelligence apparatus, at least in Los Angeles if not in the United States as a whole. What makes it all the more compelling is that O’Neill refrains from painting us an alternative final picture that he cannot support from evidence, however tantalising it might be to do so. Instead, he makes it incontrovertible that, whatever colours are in the palette, Helter Skelter isn’t amongst them. It’s regrettable that this book has received so little attention and has garnered no journalistic follow-up. Despite being the embodiment of the us versus them, none of the players are relevant to the current political landscape, hence it is unimportant. This reader hopes that other researchers take up O’Neill’s torch and continue searching for the truth.
  • Awesome read, important history. Love this author.

    Excellent reporting. The Manson murders reek of cover up and further secure a sense that law enforcement agencies don’t themselves follow laws.
  • Unnerved and Craving More!

    By dolemite72
    This book was so engrossing that I found myself awake at 4:30am reading, losing all track of time. There are actually 3-4 other books that could be written based on just a few pages here. Chaos is 480 pages but I was still wanting more when I reached the end. I can’t wait for you next book!
  • Excellent read

    A ride from start to finish!