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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Chaos written by Tom O'Neill with Dan Piepenbring, read by Kevin Stillwell.

A journalist’s 20-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 30th 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 20-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 Steven 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 '60s: when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love was as possible as brainwashing and utopia - or dystopia - was just an acid trip away.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio on our desktop site.

©2019 Tom O’Neill and Dan Piepenbring (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Chaos

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Dark parallels

Surprising rabbit holes that make this all the more intriguing. Everything you thought you knew about manson turned on its head.

3 people found this helpful

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Wow. What a wild ride.

An incredibly eye opening experience. I had heard dribs and drabs about this story but hearing it in detail is mindblowing.

This is one of those books where you can't wait to discuss it with friends.

2 people found this helpful

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What an amazing body of work!

An incredible piece of journalism and an important investigation of the wider history of the 60’s. I can’t wait for this to be turned into a tv series but in the meantime I would highly recommend this to anyone at all that has even a passing interesting in the 60’s in America and the Manson murders. Thank you Tom Oneall

2 people found this helpful

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Not worth the time

An extremely underwhelming book. Though espousing a pursuit of truth, there is little more contained in this book than conspiracy theory. The new ‘evidence’ is inconclusive and testimony from many of the actors, so long after the events of 1969, circumstantial at best; if not simply revealing of the paucity of human memory. The book rambles through years worth of what is arguably wasted effort on the part of the author. The tone throughout is inconsistent. Introspective at times, but jumping about with no real cohesion. In the end, the story amounts to an open question. Would not recommend anyone bother with this.

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A profoundly important book

Never has the repainting of a scene you thought you knew well been so utterly captivating and enjoyable to listen to. O’Neill’s robust commitment to not report anything he could definitively prove is admirable, albeit occasionally annoying when you that the leap of faith to said it would be so is very small in some cases. The whole volume captures that strange feeling in the air you feel in the desert landscape upon which this story is set. Outstandingly paced and beautifully edited. This book is an easy Top 3 favourite.

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Sensational journalism

What a phenomenal piece of work, captivating from start to finish. Recommend listening to his JRE episode as a companion piece.

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Only buy if you're really into Manson

I bought this after hearing about it on Joe Rogan. Unfortunately I didn't make it past a few chapters. It simply wasn't interesting for the casual observer. If you are a deep follower of the Manson story then I'm sure this is a valuable new perspective but if you're not then it is excruciatingly boring with dozens of random names/characters and throwing in their 2 cents worth which are totally meaningless to me. There seems to be endless detail which isn't relevant to story telling - I wish the author had just go to the point instead of detailing interviews which didn't provide any information or go anywhere.

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This was a wild ride!

4.5 stars
To preface- this was recommended to me by my boyfriend who had not read the book, but loves a good conspiracy theory. I have read a few books about Manson, and had a slightly more than cursory knowledge about the Manson family and the Tate- LaBianca murders before going into this, but had never heard of Operation Chaos or MK UltrA before reading this book.

I expected a new take on this Manson murders, and this is how the book started... but it sure took me for a ride. I think the author felt this way a little bit as well. The further the author dug, the more leads he uncovered and the more it seemed like either a bunch of people were negligent in their duties back in the late 60s/ early 70s or there really was a coverup going on. I am still not sure which one is the case, and I don't think the author does either.

This is not a book where everything is wrapped up with a neat little bow. You will have more questions at the end of reading this book than you did at the beginning. But it was well written, well told and it had me hooked.

The only reason I have knocked off half a star is because I wish there was some finality, but with so many of the main players dead, I can understand why this isn't possibly.

Highly recommend!

Really enjoyed the Audiobook !


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A very insightful listen

An interesting delve into the dark unwritten history of American counter culture and the CIA as it relates to drugs and the Manson murders.

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Chaos

Enthralling and disturbing. I greatly admire the authors persistence in writing the book. Chaos indeed.

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  • Andrew
  • 24-08-2020

Disappointing

While I went into reading the book with a complete open mind and having finished Helier Skelter recently, I found Tom O'Neill's book disappointing. After watching his Podcast with Joe Rogan, I was really hoping that there would be some major revelation about what really happened, but he never had any solid conclusions other than all the speculative inferences he made. Most of the documentation referenced could always be interpreted with a conspiratorial angle. Conveniently, all the conspirators that are implicated in the book are dead. All the people O'Neill implicates as having covered up the "real" motives for the murders are no longer around to defend themselves.

While I don't doubt that the author was forensically thorough with the research, I would have loved for there to have been some sort of finality in O'Neill's ending. You know, nail your colours to the mast. I can't help but feel that O'Neill had a major beef with Bugliosi.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-08-2021

Chaos

A very long diatribe about 20years of finding nothing. So disappointing. Not recommended at all

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-08-2020

Chias a must read

A thought provoking read and listen. . Eye opener into FBI after years of investigating. Could not put it down.

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  • harriet kilduff
  • 19-07-2020

Brilliant!

So interesting and well researched. I want more books on conspiracy and cover up please Tom O’Neill!

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  • malcolm
  • 12-05-2020

Excellent

A great read taking place in the real world that reads more like fiction. Well researched

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-09-2019

The truth is always stronger than the lie.

The author thoroughly and meticulously states the case that the Manson family murders were far more than the crazed, hippie killings as laid out in Helter-skelter.

The author went to great lengths to uncover the truth behind the infamous murders. The phrase, fact is always stranger than fiction jumps to mind with this book.

I usually steer clear of the true crime genre but absolutely loved this captivating piece. Would highly recommend.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-09-2019

Absorbing & very well researched

Fantastic narration of an utterly enthralling story. A very broad spectrum re-think of the whole Tate/Manson story. Thoroughly fascinating. Strongly recommended.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Karen Clarke
  • 01-05-2020

So confusing.

This is the worst audiobook I have ever listened to. Totally confused me and I couldn’t keep up with who was who as there were so many people mentioned and so many references. It then went away from the subject of the book and onto conspiracy theories. Will be a asking for a refund I’m afraid.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-10-2019

excellent work

this is a very noble attempt to tell the true, unknown story of the case. a difficult job.
book is well written and well performed.
the author deserves a lot of credit. Bugliosi is a snake., as his Warren commission whitewash proves, but the stories here will tell you much more about this conniving c**t.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-06-2020

Poor

Full of dead ends, confusion and digressions. No focus and now totally irrelevant. Really disappointing

13 people found this helpful

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  • UNKNOWN
  • 25-08-2019

Excellent

I have read lots of books about serial killers, the CIA, Manson and the Lauel Canyon hippie, music and movie scene. The amount of research that went into this book is astounding and the book is a credit to the author in my opinion.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-06-2020

Eye opening. Riviting. Thought provoking.

It's not a conspiracy theory when it's true. I'd love to see Tom do one on the JFK assassination.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Lee
  • 09-06-2020

Amazing book. I highly recommend. Watch JRE too!!!

Amazing book. I highly recommend. Watch The Joe Rogan Experience with Tom as a guest

9 people found this helpful

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  • Mr Doe
  • 03-06-2020

So Plausible

This book asks questions and digs into common sense motives and the goings on of American life which goes some way to explaining the grotesque ness of the America we see today. This Book is a must for anyone with any interest in Manson and or the period from the 1950’s till now.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Graham Byrne
  • 19-08-2019

Fresh perspective on the era.

Offers a fresh perspective on the crimes of Manson and his family by detailing how much of the ‘Helter Skelter’ narrative was forced into shape. At no point does the author in anyway suggest that Manson and those involved in the Tate/LaBianca slayings are innocent, however, he does call into question the true order of events and motives that culminated in those deaths. No clear answers are provided but enough diligently sought out evidence, some hidden from prosecution and defense at the time of the killlings, has been opened up to the public to allow for a review of a case that continues to provoke interest. Interesting and fun overall. Narration was fine with just a few pronunciation errors. Overall recommended.

8 people found this helpful

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