Friday, August 6, 2021

Review: Operation Chaos by Kevin James Shay

Genre: Non-Fiction/Politics


“January 6, 2021, will live in infamy in American history, along with September 11, 2001, and other dates. For the first time in the country's history, a sitting president rallied a violent mob to try to overturn a legitimate election in a real-life horror story that saw the U.S. come close to falling into an authoritative nightmare.

While many blamed the Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol and even political opponents for the violence, Operation Chaos shows how the attack was a clandestine operation coordinated and supported by top Trump aides and even the president himself. In fact, the title of the book came from a dirty trick ploy that Trump and backers executed in early 2020 to disrupt Democratic Party primaries. After that operation failed, Trump and his schemers ratcheted up their dark activities by several levels, climaxing with Operation Occupy the Capitol, a campaign employed by grassroots GOP operatives at the urging of Trump and party leaders. The operations employed the trend of political extremist groups to work in leaderless cells, with top leaders issuing orders through code words and general social media and app messages to attempt to avoid legal prosecution.

To document this story, veteran journalist Kevin James Shay, who has worked in the Washington, D.C., area for almost two decades, poured over public documents from the FBI, police departments, federal, state, and local governments, and other government agencies. He reviewed hundreds of news articles, videos, broadcasts, studies, and reports, and interviewed sources himself. He analyzed posts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media feeds. Approaching this story as a true crime tale involving chaotic deceit and deception that have been ongoing for years, he pieces together clues that help readers better understand how and why the tragedy occurred, uncovering fresh details and writing the story in a moving narrative that gives behind-the-scenes perspective.”


After graduating from the University of North Texas in 1981 Kevin James Shay did the obvious, started writing for magazines, newspapers, and other journalistic outlets. He’s also managed to write several books, some showing his interest in travel and others more in keeping with his vocation, covering subjects such as history, journalism, and politics.

For more, check out Shay’s posts on Medium.


I think it would be fair to say that I have ambiguous feelings about this book. I’m also not sure if those ambiguous feelings are a good thing or a bad thing. We’ll start with what the book got best, at least from my point of view. It does a great job of documenting the invasion of the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 and the many pertinent factors and circumstances that led to this climactic event. It is also extensively footnoted so the reader will know where the author got much of the information he is presenting and you can gauge the credibility or potentially even go check out the source yourself if you wanted to dig deeper. One minor nit I’d pick with these footnotes is that I would have liked the footnotes in the ebook version to have been linked so that if a particular statement made me want to dig deeper, I could easily click (or tap with my finger since I’m using a Kindle) on the footnote to find the source, do whatever investigation I wanted to do, and then easily return to where I’d left off using the back function on my Kindle. But that’s a minor formatting concern, not a concern with the content itself.

Where the content is concerned, I found it very credible, but I’m also concerned that my personal biases might be at work in that regard. I was already aware of a large share of the things outlined here, however reviewing them all one right after the other en masse by reading this book drove home those conclusions I’d already come to. Those things I hadn’t already read about only reinforced those feelings. My suspicion is that those who have an opinion about these events that fits with mine would find this book to be a worthwhile read if they wanted a review of the facts and to possibly expand their knowledge about the factors involved.

For those who have an opinion the opposite of mine, reading this book with an open mind might lead them to a different conclusion, but I have my doubts. My main reason for thinking that is that the author’s bias comes through in a few ways that I think would make me concerned if I wasn’t in agreement with him. One representative example has to do with masks. During the coronavirus pandemic many states had rules regarding the wearing of masks in public places, especially inside buildings, but some states and situations even required masks be worn outside. Some people, those that leaned far right politically being one example (since the government wasn’t going to tell them what to do), had a tendency to ignore those rules during this time. The author constantly pointed out when a group of people was taking some action in the book that the participants were “mostly maskless.” It reached the point of overkill. Especially later when he described those invading the US Capitol saying that “many wore bandanas and masks, along with headgear, to better hide their identities from security cameras.” They may well have worn the masks for that reason and the masks they wore might not have been different from those most wore to minimize the spreading of germs, but I also knew that if they hadn’t worn the masks he’d have pointed that out as pertinent too. Not that these people deserve anyone to cut them any slack, but at least where the issue of masks is concerned, they could do no right.

In summary, if you think Trump instigated the invasion of the Capitol Building and you want to see all the evidence to support that in one place, this is a book for you. If you’ve got no opinion, you might give it a shot too. Others … I better not say any more.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

1 comment:

jackthor said...

Thanks for the review, Big Al! I really appreciate it. It's a timely subject and one that still hasn't gotten to the bottom of the whole story. - Kevin