Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties

O'Neill, Tom & . Little, Brown. Jun. 2019. 528p. illus. ISBN 9780316477550. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780316477574. CRIME
It's been 50 years since the brutal killing of actress Sharon Tate and her house guests in August 1969 in Los Angeles. Decades after the murders and the conviction of the killers, Charles Manson and his Family, Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry wrote Helter Skelter, asserting that the murders were motivated by Manson's desire to start a race war, inspired by his reading of the Beatles song of the same name. However, journalist O'Neill, while on assignment for Premiere magazine to cover the 30th anniversary of the crimes, unraveled a series of discrepancies. This book, cowritten with New Yorker contributor Piepenbring, digs deep into events and connections before the killings, including Manson's relationship with his parole officer and countless pages of redacted police reports. O'Neil's top-notch investigative work persisted for nearly two decades. Here, he and Piepenbring offer a sobering look into the world of domestic spying in the 1960s and make a convincing argument that there is much more to this case than Bugliosi and Gentry's narrative presents.
VERDICT An excellent work of investigative journalism proving the "true story" is not always the truth.

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