Cover image for Operation chaos : the Vietnam deserters who fought the CIA, the brainwashers, and themselves / Matthew Sweet.
Title:
Operation chaos : the Vietnam deserters who fought the CIA, the brainwashers, and themselves / Matthew Sweet.
ISBN:
9781627794633
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
xvi, 365 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents:
Introduction: Deep snow -- The high road -- The committee -- The translator -- The Jerum affair -- Petunia -- The birth of chaos -- The split -- The infiltrators -- Out of love -- The next step -- Beyond psychoanalysis -- The brainwashers -- The zombie army -- Operation Destruction -- The believers -- The assassins -- The end of the world -- Cliffhanger.
Abstract:
"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. Some of them even want to take the fight to America. 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. Then the interrogations begin--to discover who among them has been brainwashed, Manchurian Candidate-style, to assassinate their leaders"--Amazon.com.
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Summary

Summary

An untold Cold War story: how the CIA tried to infiltrate a radical group of U.S. military deserters, a tale that leads from a bizarre political cult to the heart of the Washington establishment

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. Some of them even want to take the fight to America. 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. Then the interrogations begin--to discover who among them has been brainwashed, Manchurian Candidate-style, to assassinate their leaders.

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 theory about the traitors in their midst.

All Sweet has to do is find out the truth. And stay sane. Which may be difficult when one of his interviewees accuses him of being a CIA agent and another suspects that he's part of a secret plot by the British royal family to start World War III. By that time, he's deep in the labyrinth of truths and half-truths, wondering where reality ends and delusion begins.


Author Notes

Matthew Sweet is the author of Inventing the Victorians , Shepperton Babylon , and The West End Front . He is a columnist for Art Quarterly and a contributing editor for Newsweek International , and he presents the BBC radio programs Free Thinking , Sound of Cinema , and The Philosopher's Arms . He was series consultant on the Showtime drama Penny Dreadful and played a moth from the planet Vortis in the BBC2 drama An Adventure in Space and Time . He lives in London.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

British journalist and BBC personality Sweet (The West End Front) details the strange and chaotic story of the "thousand-strong community of deserters and draft resisters" who went into exile in neutral Sweden during the Vietnam War, along with Operation Chaos, the CIA operation set up to spy on them. Sweet evocatively sketches his quest to uncover these resisters' lives. Some of the exiles seemed to be upright and idealistic, some were criminals, others were prone to bizarre and outlandish conspiracy theories, and more than a few lived life through "a psychedelic filter." Sweet tries to unravel their stories, but admits that of the dozens of former exiles he interviewed, only some "are telling the truth." He injects himself into the narrative from the beginning, diligently recording how he tracked down and interviewed many of his subjects. In the book's second half, Sweet turns his attentions to the "apocalyptic" cult joined by several of the deserters. It was (and continues to be) led by the conspiracist Lyndon LaRouche, whom Sweet calls "the longest-running gag in U.S. fringe politics." Though rather fascinating, the highly detailed LaRouche narrative may exhaust some readers. Still, Sweet uncloaks a relatively little-known aspect of the Vietnam War-era counterculture. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Sweet (Inventing the Victorians) offers a chilling account of lesser-known Vietnam protestors. These deserters escaped to Sweden, eventually joining Lyndon LaRouche's cult-like political party, whose platform included labeling the CIA, Nelson Rockefeller, the Queen of England, and Henry Kissinger as a cabal seeking a new world order. At the time, Sweden was the only non-Communist European country that offered asylum to deserters. The American Deserters Committee (ADC) was formed in 1968 but collapsed the following year, possibly because of infiltration by the CIA's Operation Chaos, dedicated to bringing down the ADC. Eventually, the ADC morphed into "The Next Step," an underground organization that favored the military's overthrow by active duty soldiers. Sweet is especially good at describing how deserters were drawn into LaRouche's party and became his programmed foot soldiers, some of whom might have assassinated Swedish Premier Olaf Palme in 1986. Sweet's smooth writing about the deserters' descent into LaRouche's Orwellian world, his current interviews with ADC and Larouche Party veterans, and his tales about attending LaRouche political events are gripping. VERDICT Audiences intrigued by Kurt Andersen's Fantasyland will be drawn to this work, which describes how rational politics can fall prey to irrational beliefs with dangerous consequences.-Karl Helicher, formerly with Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Who's Who in Operation Chaosp. xi
Introduction: Deep Snowp. 1
1 The High Roadp. 11
2 The Committeep. 26
3 The Translatorp. 44
4 The Jerum Affairp. 56
5 Petuniap. 72
6 The Birth of Chaosp. 91
7 The Splitp. 105
8 The Infiltratorsp. 123
9 Out of Lovep. 143
10 The Next Stepp. 163
11 Beyond Psychoanalysisp. 174
12 The Brainwashersp. 189
13 The Zombie Armyp. 209
14 Operation Destructionp. 228
15 The Believersp. 241
16 The Assassinsp. 266
17 The End of the Worldp. 292
18 Cliffhangerp. 304
Notesp. 315
Acknowledgmentsp. 349
Indexp. 353