October 1967. During the height of the Vietnam War, four American servicemen deserted the USS Intrepid; they were smuggled from Tokyo to Sweden via Moscow with the help of a Japanese anti-war group, a draft-card-burning Buddhist priest from Nebraska, and the staff of the Russian Embassy in Tokyo. Their act of defiance made them headline news around the world as the Intrepid Four, and inspired other disillusioned young conscripted soldiers to follow their escape to Sweden.
Travelling widely to Paris, Stockholm, North Carolina, Washington and New York to visit protected archives and meet with the original agents and dissidents, Matthew Sweet uncovers their life underground, how the US government waged a determined campaign to discredit deserting soldiers, the story behind the secret scheme code-named Operation Chaos, how the CIA tried to infiltrate this radical political group, an international game of cat and mouse and a spiraling series of events winding all the way to the Manchurian Candidate scare of 1973/4, and the hunt for the victims of 'the brainwashing institutes of Sweden'.
In Operation Chaos, Matthew Sweet combines a description of the bizarre and outlandish activities of the CIA, reminiscent of Jon Ronson's The Men who Stared at Goats, with an extraordinary insight into the shadowy world of espionage as compellingly as Ben McIntyre's Agent Zigzag. This 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.