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[Book Reviews] Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill with Dan Piepenbring.

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Post time: 9-7-2019 11:11:29 Posted From Mobile Phone
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A journalist’s obsession with the infamous murders by the Family unearths startling ties linking the group’s leader to the US government
Charles Manson is arrested for his role in the murder of Sharon Tate in 1969. Photograph: AP
▼ In the fetid, druggy summer of 1969, Charles Manson, a hippy messiah who claimed to be the spawn of Christ, Satan and Hitler combined, dispatched his besotted apostles on killing sprees throughout Los Angeles.
For starters, they obscenely butchered Sharon Tate, then pregnant with Roman Polanski’s child, and a smattering of her friends; the next night, the gang slaughtered a suburban grocer and his wife, leaving a devilish-looking pitchfork stuck in the man’s chest.
Other corpses were disposed of in Death Valley or on the movie ranch where Quentin Tarantino sets his new film Once Upon a  Time… in Hollywood, which ends with the Manson rampage. The killers, also cosily known as the Family, apparently chose their victims at random and didn’t bother to rob the properties they invaded. These were motiveless murders, a ritualised manifestation of evil. Or so we thought, until Tom O’Neill began asking inconvenient questions.
O’Neill’s investigations started 20 years ago with a commission from a movie magazine and they have continued ever since. Although he never managed to write the magazine article, his research monomaniacally took over his life. Deadlines were indefinitely extended and publishers eventually demanded their money back or lost their nerve when confronted by his scandalous findings; this book is only an interim report on a sticky network of lies by the LAPD, the FBI and the CIA, which joined forces in an effort to muddy the truth about Manson’s crimes.Among Manson’s bibles was a novel about a saviour who grows up on Mars and descends to earth to supervise the apocalypse
O’Neill first accuses the prosecutor Vince Bugliosi of tampering with witnesses; Bugliosi, who turned his courtroom assault on Manson into a lucrative book, retaliates by threatening to sue the virtually penniless O’Neill for a hundred million dollars and smearing him as a gay paedophile. The next teasing trail of evidence persuades O’Neill that FBI agents colluded with the district attorney, presumably because J Edgar Hoover’s bureau saw Manson and his gaggle of sex slaves as countercultural brutes who deserved to be exterminated.
The CIA becomes involved when O’Neill starts to wonder why Manson’s parole officers were so lax in the years before 1969, allowing him to decamp to San Francisco. (▪ ▪ ▪)

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