Chaos - Tom O'Neill & Dan Piepenbring


By Tom O'Neill & Dan Piepenbring

  • Release Date: 2019-06-25
  • Genre: True Crime
Score: 4.5
From 365 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.


  • Chaos

    By CBHS2022
    Outstanding book! I appreciated the way that the author kept the reader informed on what he was thinking along the way and how he went about researching this topic.
  • I’m Blow Away

    By Mr. Rod Thruster
    Maybe the most fascinating and engaging thing that I’ve ever read; and I read lot’sa stuff. This careful, responsible and entertaining piece of journalism will forever alter your world view. I’m a Tom O’Neill for life now.
  • Detailed CHAOS

    By Hellsing3557996
    In a story as complicated and chaotic as this one, more than anything else I appreciate the authors commitment to the details regardless of where they lead. Everything in this story is worth being written into a book of its own, and I sincerely hope they do. For taking us along for the ride of the writing of this book, I feel a much deeper connection to the author himself than I expected to at the start which is no small feat considering the various entities and cult of personality involved. I struggled to put this down and I know others will as well.
  • Amazing Diligence

    By PatrickSheposh
    When you follow leads & your intuition, the truth can happen. This book is amazing and a proof positive piece to challenge those who consume the narrative without question.
  • Hard to put down

    By Vebol
    This book is so interesting that it is hard to stop reading. It’s amazing that none of what is in this book has not been told before. What you thought about the Manson Family and the murders is very different than the truth explained in this book.
  • A really great read

    By Ghydhi
    Really well done, fascinating, and I will be reading it again after I write this review. The author apparently has tons of more material too, which he says could go into another book. After reading CHAOS, I am now obsessed with that second book happening. Please take a look, I swear it’s worth it.
  • Wow

    By trust2020
    Excellent page-turning stuff. This book had my head spinning. One of the best non-fiction crime books I’ve read in a long time. The level of commitment to get this book published is frankly jaw-dropping—and the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
  • 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.