CHAOS

CHARLES MANSON, THE CIA, AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE SIXTIES

Fans of conspiracy theories will find this a source of endless fascination.

Who put Charlie and the Family up to their murderous mischief? This long excursus on the killings that terrified Los Angeles 50 years ago suggests some unlikely answers.

How did it happen that a bunch of peace freaks turned into a band of homicidal maniacs? In this overlong but provocative barrage, freelance journalist O’Neill charts a series of conjectures that begins with famed prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and ends in the dark chambers of the intelligence community. The logic goes something like this: It’s useful to control people’s minds, but it’s difficult to accomplish if they’re sane. If they’re a little off balance, needy, and disaffected, though, then give them a charismatic leader and some chores, and voilà—and along the way, if LSD is involved, then you can serve up an object lesson about the dangers of drugs. O’Neill’s thesis has its possibilities, but, like Oliver Stone’s JFK—and the Kennedy assassination figures here—it’s not so much that he ventures a theory as that he ventures all of them: The FBI wanted to whip up racial division to divide the New Left from the Black Panthers, Manson was an agent provocateur, record producer and Hollywood insider Terry Melcher had a hand in the whole thing, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson was a silent partner. And then there was Roman Polanski and his weird proclivities—as O’Neill writes, “remember how Susan Atkins wrote the word ‘Pig’ on the front door of Cielo Drive, in Sharon Tate’s blood?” But what if she really wrote something else? It’s all too much. Among the best aspects of the book are the author’s confessions of the many dead ends and blank spots he encountered, as when he confronted Bugliosi with the suggestion that he knew more than he was letting on and in fact covered up some of the evidence. “It was the wrong move,” he writes. “I’d intended to build to this moment, and now I was leading with it, giving him every reason to take a contentious tone.”

Fans of conspiracy theories will find this a source of endless fascination.

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-47755-0

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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