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Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves
— —
Matthew Sweet
Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves by Matthew Sweet at Abbey's Bookshop,

Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves

Matthew Sweet



Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000;
The Cold War;
Vietnam War


352 pages

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From a political cult to the heart of the Washington establishment - the bizarre and untold story of how the CIA tried to infiltrate a radical group of U.S. military deserters during the Cold War

Stockholm, 1968. A thousand American deserters and draft-resisters are arriving to escape the war in Vietnam. They’re young, they’re radical, and they want to start a revolution. The Swedes treat them like pop stars?but the CIA is determined to stop all that.

It’s a job for the deep-cover men of Operation Chaos and their allies?agents who know how to infiltrate organizations and destroy them from inside. Within months, the GIs have turned their fire on one another, and the group dissolves into interrogations and recriminations.

When Matthew Sweet began investigating this story, he thought the madness was over. He was wrong. Instead, he became the confidant of an eccentric and traumatized group of survivors?each with his own intricate theory about the traitors in their midst.

All Sweet has to do is discover the truth...and stay sane.

Reminiscent of Jon Ronson's The Men who Stare at Goats and as compellingly as Ben McIntyre's Agent Zigzag, in Operation Chaos Michael Sweet's fascinating journey of discovery sheds new light on one of the great untold tales of the Cold War, where the facts are wilder than any work of fiction.

By:   Matthew Sweet
Imprint:   Picador
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 197mm,  Width: 130mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   266g
ISBN:   9781447294740
ISBN 10:   1447294742
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   March 2019
Recommended Age:   From 18 years
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Matthew Sweet is a writer and broadcaster with a doctorate in Wilkie Collins. He presents Night Waves and Free Thinking on BBC Radio 3 and The Philosopher's Arms and The Film Programme on BBC Radio 4. He is the author of Inventing the Victorians and Shepperton Babylon: The Lost Worlds of British Cinema - which he adapted as a film for BBC Four.

In what should be a footnote to the history of the Vietnam War, Matthew Sweet has found a craziness right at the heart of the human condition. He tells a bizarre, alarming story with wit, grace and an increasing anxiety that by asking questions he might be about to trigger World War 3. Read it with my jaw on the floor. -- Frank Cottrell-Boyce, author of <i>Millions </i> A forgotten incident of the Cold War turns into a remarkable story of subterfuge and brainwashing that few Hollywood scriptwriters could have made up. Sweet tells the story with scholarship and verve. -- Simon Heffer, author of <i>High Minds</i> and <i>The Age of Decadence</i> This tale of US military deserters who fled to Sweden during the Vietnam war is as weird and darkly comic a story about Vietnam as you'll read * Daily Mail * Can't recommend Operation Chaos highly enough; a tale of noble intentions sliding into a paranoid mire. -- Al Murray In this meld of history and reportage, the deserters' stories, and those of dozens of revolutionaries, hosts, and spies, coalesce into an often moving examination of loyalty and dissent. Sweet details an undercover C.I.A. mission to disrupt defection, and sheds light on the exiles' complex motives. His quest to track down all the major players in the story takes him, variously, to a maximum-security prison, a cannabis refinery, and Paris cafes. * New Yorker * Operation Chaos offers a new look at the era and the war that forgoes the usual combat and political narratives in favor of something truly strange and bizarre, rife with countless rabbit holes, plot twists and questionable characters and motives. Fortunately, Sweet was willing to throw himself into the middle of the chaos and come back with a confusing, confounding and utterly compelling narrative that spans decades, continents and levels of mental stability. * Spectrum Culture * It's the mistrust that interests Mr. Sweet, the book he set out to write morphed into a narrative that goes deep into the hothouse politics of the American Deserters Committee before taking a sharp turn into the bizarre machinations of Lyndon LaRouche. What he does do is tie together a strange story that continues to limp along 50 years after it began. * Wall Street Journal * A horribly readable account of the US military deserters who found asylum in Sweden during the Vietnam War, and their group's infiltration by the CIA * Guardian * Sweet evocatively sketches his quest to uncover these resisters' lives . . . Sweet uncloaks a relatively little-known aspect of the Vietnam War-era counterculture. * Publishers Weekly * In the late 60s paranoia struck deep especially if you were a deserter from the US Army during Vietnam and the CIA was stalking you. Matthew Sweet's book will suck you into the hall of mirrors in which these guys were forced to live their lives . . . and still do. Engrossing and accurate. -- Michael Goldfarb, author of <i>Ahmad's War, Ahmad's Peace</i> and <i>Emancipation</i> Matthew Sweet's search for the cult's survivors is at the heart of this darkly comic story. They are, he finds, still crazy after all these years -- Francis Wheen * Daily Mail * Operation Chaos adds a new and fascinating chapter to the story of the Vietnam War. It will amaze anyone who thinks the war was fought only in Vietnam, that it was fought only with guns and bombs, or that it is truly over. -- Stephen Kinzer, author of <i>All the Shah's Men</i>, <i>The Brothers</i>, and <i>The True Flag</i> From his book's opening pages, Matthew Sweet lured me into a looking-glass world of deserters, radicals, spies, and cultists, following them from Vietnam to Sweden to America, with many improbable stops along the way. Operation Chaos tells an American story that had been lost to history, one where people are not always who they seem to be and suspicions have a hard time keeping pace with reality. -- Bryan Burrough, author of <i>Days of Rage</i> and <i>Public Enemies</i> Operation Chaos is a wild ride-a deeply reported and gracefully written account of a fascinating piece of contemporary Cold War history. -- Susan Orlean, author of <i>The Orchid Thief</i>, <i>Saturday Night</i>, and <i>Rin Tin Tin </i> Matthew Sweet's curiosity and sense of fun pulls back the heavy baize curtains on what we thought we knew about the war. -- Linda Grant Very well-informed and effortlessly funny. * Independent *

  • Long-listed for CWA Dagger for Non-Fiction 2018 (UK)
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