A display of artifacts related to the Manson Family murders of 1969 are displayed at the Dearly Departed Tours and Artifact Museum in Los Angeles. The gruesome two-day murder spree orchestrated by Charles Manson which left pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six other people dead still haunts the American psyche. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A display of artifacts related to the Manson Family murders of 1969 are displayed at the Dearly Departed Tours and Artifact Museum in Los Angeles. The gruesome two-day murder spree orchestrated by Charles Manson which left pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six other people dead still haunts the American psyche. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

The 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders occupy a macabre place in American popular culture thanks to their infamous perpetrators: the Manson Family.

In an attempt to jump-start a race war between the government and black Americans, Charles Manson and four of his followers murdered an up-and-coming actress, a celebrity hairstylist, a coffee heiress, her boyfriend, a high school student, a grocery store owner and his wife, over the course of two days.

But what if the true motive behind these puzzling murders was swept away by the tides of history? What if the key architects of the narrative had overemphasized certain facts while ignoring others?

In 1999, entertainment journalist Tom O’Neill was assigned to write about how the murders changed Hollywood. The story was supposed to take three months to write. Twenty years later, after tracking down numerous sources and reviewing long-forgotten documents, he’s released a book calling into question the prevailing narrative surrounding the murders.

We talk with O’Neill about where the accepted story goes wrong and why it took him so long to come to that conclusion.

Produced by Haili Blassingame.

Guests

  • Tom O'Neill Author, "Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties"

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