Although the tendrils of the Manson story reach into countless sensational realms—Hollywood, rock ’n’ roll, drugs, cults, etc.—some of the wildest possibilities are dispensed with efficiently. O’Neill tracks down principals of a supposedly involved MDA distribution ring, senses dead ends, and moves on ... That Chaos can’t quite recover the smoking gun is, in a strange way, a gift. In the twenty years that have elapsed since O’Neill began work on the book, paranoia has so permeated American culture that healthy skepticism has ceded ground to firm beliefs in all-powerful Deep States and New World Orders—beliefs often stoked and exploited by those who actually hold the reins of power. What once were theories are gospels now. O’Neill’s skillful accumulation of facts, untainted by bluffery, is a victory for honest discourse ... The discoveries that O’Neill has shared with the world—about lies, suppressions, and conflicts of interest—should scare the hell out of us.
... overlong but provocative ... 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 ... 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 ... Fans of conspiracy theories will find this a source of endless fascination.