Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties…Tom O’Neill

Hanspostcard had mentioned he was reading this book and from what he said I had to give it a try. I got the audible version. The author Tom O’Neill has an interesting quote that sums up the book… “My goal isn’t to say what did happen—it’s to prove that the official story didn’t,”

When I first started to listen I thought it was going to be a big conspiracy book but I was pleasantly surprised…Tom O’Neill took pains not to go there. He is pretty open that he does not find the “answer” to the murders. He also made it clear he wasn’t trying to clear the guilty parties of the Tate/Labianca cases. They are no doubt guilty but it was more about the circumstances around the question of why and the Helter Skelter theory brought by Vincent Bugliosi. Vincent was the prosecutor in the case and later wrote the book Helter Skelter…the best-selling true crime book ever.

Manson’s parole officer Roger Smith was really baffling. Manson was on parole through the late sixties and did everything he could to break his parole…Smith kept giving him a pass, protecting his family, and even fostering one of Manson’s kids. Manson must have had a hell of a rabbit’s foot or someone or some organization was looking out for him. If any of us would get caught with an underage girl, stolen cars, and narcotics… a trip to jail would be in our immediate future…even in the 1960s…much less being on parole at the time.

O’Neill has the documents to back up his claims. Bugliosi did suppress evidence and most around the case are still afraid to talk. Some of the evidence yes could have got by him but not to this extent. Tom interviewed a countless number of people… including tense interviews with Bugliosi.

Tom spent 20 years on this book. The story of him writing the book is just as interesting as the story. He became depressed and obsessed with the murders. In 1999 he was writing an article for Premier Magazine and kept extending the deadlines for the 30th anniversary of the murders. Then in 2009, it was going to be a book published by Penguin for the 40th…that didn’t work out because he kept finding new leads and information. Finally this year the book was released for the 50th anniversary of the murders.

What I found interesting also was the other subjects that were brought up…COINTELPRO, Operation CHAOS, and MKULTRA…goverment secret programs that could come into play. There is much more in the book than I’ve touched on…I would recommend getting it…it makes you think and question.

Below is a great review of the book.


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

24 thoughts on “Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties…Tom O’Neill”

  1. You have finished it- I still haven’t… get on to other books- still plan on finishing it it is a quick read. I agree with you- it sure does make you wonder if the full story has been told and if the entire Helter Skelter deal was a bunch of bunk. Recently I stumbled across a book interview with the author of Manson- which came out maybe 5-6 yeas ago- he was talking about how Bugioulsi was a great help to him etc. I add I don’t think this author challenged any of his conclusions in Helter Skelter. …. The thing that really got me so far is how Charlie seemed to have a get out of jail card for himself and his followers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is what shocked me…how nothing against him stuck before the murders. He should not have been free in the first place… and the Hinman murder with something written on a wall…and they didn’t see a connection?
      The last thing I’ll bring up…is everyone is still scared to talk…why would you be scared to talk about a 30-50 year old murder case?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes that is a good point– even when some of those people like Terry Melcher knew the end was near- he didn’t break his silence on the case.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. I read Helter Skelter years ago, and it stuck with me. Such horror …. to think of alternaate theories is definitely intriguing. Will pick up the book!

    Thanks Hanspostcard and BF20 for adding to my pile!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t need to read the review that you linked because you have already given an excellent review of “Chaos.” It’s on my list…Now as for the theories of the author, I’ve read some speculative theories that attempt debunk the whole Helter Skelter thing. I’ve read that Bugliosi basically made it up to link Manson to the murders. The prosecutors knew he was behind the murders but they couldn’t definitively tie him to them…From what I know about the case, Manson used his harem to get what he wanted. He turn his girls loose on powerful men who–though sexually experienced–had never been exposed to the debauchery that Mason’s women offered. Manson had photographs of a lot of this stuff. He blackmailed men in power with them, if needed. Most of the time he didn’t need to blackmail. These men just kept coming back for more That’s what I’ve read about the debunking of Helter Skelter and so forth. Great write up Max. I’m going to read this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pam. This book I couldn’t put down. The part that is so strange is how Charlie learned how to do…what is basically mind control or brainwashing. He was barely literate but it wasn’t just his charisma…he knew exactly what he was doing.

      What is scary… is people are still scared to talk about it. Some higher ups will say there was another story but will not divulge what they know.

      Bugliosi was a messed up paranoid person…and it is apparent he covered up things for someone through that trial. Some of the things he did after the trial were terrible and he should have been in jail. Even his wife said something was wrong with him.


  4. I can’t help but think Tom O’Neil might have used all those years writing this book a little more productively. It’s interesting but also sounds like a lot of nonsense. In my view, anyway

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When he starts going into MKULTRA that is where I thought…I don’t see a connection there…what interested me were the actual court documents…and the people around the parameter involvement. I can’t believe he found that many people still around.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. For me, is Ed Sander’s “The Family” the definitive book on Charlie Manson and his demented followers. His research is clearly exhaustive and he presents his material in unsensational terms. For anyone interested in its subject, this should be the first port of call.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This author quotes that book many times. I would like to read that one… It’s hard not to get angry reading books like this…I’ve read a couple on Jim Jones and got the same feeling… just terrible people.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to admit that crime history has never been my choice of reading material. The gruesome aspects surrounding this crime in particular have curtailed me from wanting to know more about the Manson family. The closest I could go was watching ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ which I thought would shed light on it, but of course that took a very different tack.
    I may be way off line here regarding it’s relevance to the Manson book, but isn’t there some polemic regarding Epstein’s suicide and what he may of knew of very wealthy /famous people. Eric Weinstein recently alluded to this in a recent twitter post. Eric has made noise about Epstein being a “construct”. Someone mentioned on reddit regarding Weinstein’s comments: ‘My sense is that he means that Epstein, as a financier, was “created” by some intelligence agency (domestic or foreign). Epstein had no degree, was a high school math teacher, but suddenly ended up a financial guru through means that are not clear to anyone. No one seems to know where his money came from’.
    While on the subject of conspiracy theories, have you seen this entertaining interview with Bob Lazar who allegedly worked at Area 51?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well this one is not a bio of Manson…more about the trial but I get what you are saying. I’m usually not either but this one I wanted to know more about. How the hell do people like Manson and Jim Jones get people to follow them blindly…

      I did read some about Epstein and what happened. That was bizarre.

      I just watched some of it….wow. Area 51 has to be the most famous place that no one knows about.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How cult leaders become so effectual is indeed bizarre. I did watch the Jim Jones documentary (Jonestown) which was fascinating and broached that leadership aspect, but the ending was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to watch and listen to.
        That area 51 interview is a real hoot, is it not? Haha He seems so credible. I take my hat off to him even if he is a fraudster, which I’m quite certain he is.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I read a couple of books about Jones…I had to stop after that. They don’t do it with charisma…they do it with sleep deprivation and other tatics.

        Oh it is… I remember listening to an old radio show with host Art Bell that would talk about area 51 and other things.

        He is entertaining…and that is what matters.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yes, Jim Jones had loudspeakers blaring night and day in his camp reminiscent of Orwell’s ‘1984’. They obviously have some charisma, but they abuse their power by perverse ‘sicko’ means. Some of the more radical evangelical churches still engage in cult-like brainwashing especially of children. See the doco ‘Jesus Camp’ for evidence of that.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh yea…it’s terrible that they give religion a bad name…it makes it so hard for all the ones that really care and want to do good.

        Liked by 1 person

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