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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quite superb, engrossing read
I have to agree with many of the other reviewers: this was a book to keep me awake at night and delay the progress of many seemingly more imperative things in my life! At risk of repeating that which has been stated already, this is quite simply an incredibly detailed account of the life of Michael Jackson from his birth up until 2004. It covers his childhood living in an...
Published on 7 Aug 2009 by Mr. C. Cooper

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many opinions and not enough facts
Whilst aspects of this book are interesting, especially the earlier part, I felt the author relied too much on unsubstantiated hearsay from unrevealed sources. I would have preferred it if he had stuck to facts. This is yet another book purporting to "know" Michael Jackson. At times, the author came across as arrogant, patronising and opinionated. Some of his...
Published on 17 Aug 2011 by Frances


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quite superb, engrossing read, 7 Aug 2009
I have to agree with many of the other reviewers: this was a book to keep me awake at night and delay the progress of many seemingly more imperative things in my life! At risk of repeating that which has been stated already, this is quite simply an incredibly detailed account of the life of Michael Jackson from his birth up until 2004. It covers his childhood living in an impossibly cramped house by any standards, alongside his siblings and parents amid the grime and gangs of Gary, Indiana; his later accession to fame as a member of the Jackson 5, helped by the tenaciousness of his father in getting the brothers first signed up at Motown; his painful experiences which later led to his seemingly interminable succession of changes of personal appearance; and his breakaway and independence as a successful solo artist beyond, through the Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad eras. As Taraborrelli quite fairly puts it, "to describe Jackson as having staggeringly succeeded would be to state the obvious".

As for what kind of experience you derive from this book aside from sheer accessibility to such obvious subject areas, albeit in so gloriously heavy detail, there were, of course, some discrepancies between what I expected prior to reading, and what information and impression of Jackson's life Taraborrelli goes on to furnish us with. I'd never quite gathered previous to my reading of this book, for example, just how fundamental and lingering an influence in MJ's adult life had continued to be his brothers and family (particularly the other members of the Jackson 5 and Joseph, whose insistence and seemingly ever-adamant faith it was that Michael would surely one day rejoin them to tour after 1984's Victory Tour, such to the point that this apparently remained on MJ's conscience whenever they otherwise attempted to lend their thus unwanted periodic public support to him during such troublesome times as the two instances of child sexual abuse accusations). Such ordeals into which he was dragged include the La Toya/Jack Gordon scenario and the Jackson/Moonies reunion project, eventually aborted, the latter of which I have certainly never read of either before or since.

Elsewhere, I was also initially a little surprised at Taraborrelli's squeezing of three of MJ's later albums (HIStory, Blood on the Dance Floor and Invincible) into one short chapter, only really briefly touching in any way on the artistic process involved within them and their videos - particularly noticeable given his seeming tendency during the Jackson 5/Motown section of the book to devote a chapter each to every little minutiae of development on such events as their decision to leave that label. In this later stage of the book, you do get the impression that he is either simply reduced to commenting from afar on the basis of a lack of later contact with Jackson, or otherwise presumably not terribly enthused by MJ's later work (there isn't even a section devoted specifically to any of Dangerous, the album; only the accompanying tour is really talked of during the phase where he is principally interested in discussing the Jordie Chandler situation which was erupting at that same time). Basically all of 1991 is missed out in his eagerness to transfer between the excellently documented run-up to the release of Dangerous when MJ fired manager Frank DiLeo, left John Branca and came under the influence of David Geffen. Whatever, maybe I'm just nitpicking here, given how much I adore the whole book, but it would have been nice nonetheless to hear more thoughts on MJ's artistic approach to his later music, for those of us who grew up following the MJ of the 1990s and early 2000s, as I did. Nonetheless, he doesn't let up on the overall detail during this period of MJ's life, as per the rest of the book, covering his marriages to Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe, the HIStory World Tour, the Martin Bashir documentary and all its fallout and, of course, his later realignment of his biggest priority in his life from show business to his children, a surprising development catalyzed by the sheer trauma of the Chandler ordeal.

Taraborrelli speculates, albeit insightfully, on the lack of wisdom on the MJ team's part of planting such outlandish media stories in the later 1980s (concerning the hyperbaric chamber and Joseph Merrick's bones, most famously) designed to promote a `wacky' image for Jackson; this policy later led to the previous careful manipulation of his image spinning precariously out of control as, in contradiction to MJ's own initial conclusion of an ability of his to "control the media", news outlets seized the initiative to weave all manner of their own pernicious tales. Comparable treatment is afforded to such claims made by MJ and his team as his outlandish Neverland lifestyle from 1988 effectively being a compensation for his `lost childhood'; Taraborrelli points out that even if this were true, as of 2004 (the date of the book's publication) this would have meant that MJ would have effectively compensated twice over; instead, he suggests that perhaps MJ simply missed his childhood, more than he ever actually missed out. He contemplates MJ's apparent continued immaturity and lack of awareness, reflected in his mistakes, and openly ponders why he doesn't seem to understand the world's less positive responses to his actions, or, associated with that, feel any real willingness to `grow up' or become more rational. All in all, the book's tone is objective, showing as much fascination in MJ as any star-struck fan or the most repulsed or outraged critic, while never really expressing as extreme a sentiment as either entity, instead reasoning so constantly and serenely as to lead you to believe even his more speculative observations of MJ's life to be probably true.

This is quite possibly the mostly rawly readable book I have read in my life. I devoured it in a week. It is to be absolutely, unhesitatingly recommended.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair and honest, 2 July 2004
By 
Louise Jones (Gloucestershire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
One good aspect of this book is that Taraborrelli has met and interviewed Michael Jackson. he hasn't relied on second hand information to make dangerous conclusions about the king of pop. i am a dedicated Michael Jackson fan, and on recieving my copy of "The Magic and the Madness" i was quite sceptical about the accuracy of the "facts" within. I must say i have never read such a balanced book about Michael Jackson. I would recomend this book to anyone who has an intrest in MJ or the truth. It gives the "evidence" of the Chandler events in a way that all readers can see how ludicrous these accusations actually were. Well worth the money.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good read, 9 Aug 2009
I almost never review a book but this one compelled me to do so. I was a BIG fan back in the 80's and then waned a bit in the 90's. I, like possibly many others, believed the media hype about the molestation charges and that clouded my views of Michael Jackson. Upon hearing of his death though, it brought back all those great memories I had from his music and I was really sad that he had died so misunderstood.

I bought this book on a whim right after the news broke of Michael Jackson's death and I'm glad I did. I COULD NOT put the book down and that rarely happens. I was fascinated about how Michael Jackson became who is was. I have a whole different view of him now and wish I had never believed all the hype about him.

A true humanitarian doesn't tell about his good deeds but I wish SOMEONE had as I never really knew about all the charities he supported or the good work that he did.

I thought the author handled many of the sensitive subjects well and remained very objective. I think I read a reviewer's post that it sounded like the author was agreeing with the charges against Michael Jackson. I didn't get that at all. The author seemed quite objective and sensitive to it all. He only cautioned that maybe Michael should have been more careful and not so naive. No matter how innocent something might be and no matter how much Michael might say he had a pure heart, there are people out there who aren't pure thinkers. I think his sweetness and naivety set him up to be a victim of people who might have seen him as an easy mark.

All in all this was a really good read and I wish I had read it many years ago when I started to doubt Michael Jackson which then tainted my love of his music. I'm now curious to read the authors new book to see what additions he has added as well as Aphrodite Jones' book. I recommend this book for die hard fans as well as so so fans.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many opinions and not enough facts, 17 Aug 2011
This review is from: Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story (Paperback)
Whilst aspects of this book are interesting, especially the earlier part, I felt the author relied too much on unsubstantiated hearsay from unrevealed sources. I would have preferred it if he had stuck to facts. This is yet another book purporting to "know" Michael Jackson. At times, the author came across as arrogant, patronising and opinionated. Some of his put-downs made him appear jealous of MJ.

He berates MJ for letting his Neverland staff go after the 2005 trial and yet, at the same time, states MJ was suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, thus demonstrating his own lack of understanding of this condition. Neverland harboured disturbing memories of police raids etc. Add to that attending court every day for months, having to listen to lies about his character, followed by the sensationalised, distorted reporting by a world-wide media without conscience or an interest in the truth - no wonder he couldn't face going back to Neverland, let alone staying in the country. For the sake of his own mental health he needed to distance himself from all the disturbing reminders of the dreadful ordeal he'd undergone.

Another example of Mr. T's lack of understanding with regard to PTSD is the anger he felt that MJ didn't try to revive his career after the trial - he wasn't a commodity without feelings but a human being who had undergone an intensely traumatic experience and was suffering after-effects. Mr. T. appears to think he should have carried on as if nothing had happened. He needed time to heal.

I also note Mr. T. has jumped on the bandwagon of those now claiming to be a "friend" of MJ. Unfortunately, MJ isn't here to tell us whether he considered him a friend, especially as he always said he had very few true friends whom he could trust. It's sad that MJ had to die before Mr. T. was able to feel any modicum of empathy for him.

For me, this book does not represent the "Whole Story". If you want to know the real Michael Jackson, read his own book "Dancing the Dream".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book looking at Michael Jackson's incredible life., 17 Feb 2004
This is a well written licensenced book which takes you through ther life of Michael Jackson and the emotional times he has being a child star prodigy.
The writer writes from his perspective of Michael's life as he was a good friend of his and he descibes times which he saw or heard. For example a time when he was visiting the family and Michael walked in the room with bandages around his face at the age of 19 when he had just had plastic surgery, emotional but extremely interesting and there are many happy moments aswell don't get me wrong it doesn't make you cry or anything.
It explains his succes what he did and his relationships with Elvis presly's daughter and others ofcourse.
He very well writes about Michael's relationship with Lisa maria Presly and talks about their sex life they intermetally had and thier arguments that they suffered within each other.
Don't hesitate to buy this book as it is very well written and perfectly described......if you are obssesed with Michael Jackson or very interested in his life or even not intereseted ion his music but bedazzled by his personality then buy this book and discover a new side of the KING MICHAEL JACKSON
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome.. need I say more?, 22 July 2009
After becoming a hardcore MJ fan (a little to late) I was totally amazed by the guy, so decided to get this book, afterall it seemed like the only legitimate one out there. To put it into perspective.. i was currently reading 'Eclipse' (part of the twilight saga) .. and ditched it when this book arrived.. i couldnt put it down. I stayed up late to read it, and woke up early too! This is saying something, as i would have expected to be ecstatic about Eclipse (which is supposed to be a really good teenage read.) I've never been so absorbed in a book. I read it in 3 or 4 days.. I wouldnt have ate or slept if I didnt need to to finish this. Nevertheless, towards the last few chapters i was deliberately reading slow because i didnt want it to end!

Not only did this book provide a detailed biography of Michael's life, it also gave us a story to enjoy, appreciate and also in some parts be shocked at. It is ideal reading material for anyone who wants to know about MJ, in a non critical fashion. I found Taraborelli really wrote through our perspective.. he defended MJ in some parts, but in some parts criticised his decisions .. as we have to make clear that MJ did make some mistakes, noone can deny that. Therefore, it's not biased in favour or against him, just gives a view which we can understand and relate too.

As for the content, I don't want to give too much away but it covers EVERYTHING. every major event in his life. It's not enough to read newspapers and magazines, they dont tell the whole picture. For example the plastic surgery thing.. you learn alot about that and empathise with michael. Theres a detailed description of the pepsi ad commerical. It evenn sets the record straight on Michael's colour changing. His childhood and the horrible encounters he had are talked of and it really paints a picture of the man we all want to fathom. And Michael's mischievnous when it comes to the media... the rumours of him buying elephant mans bones and the hyperbaric chamber, that part will surely make you giggle ;). Oh gosh.. i can go on and on....

As a bonus there's a few pages of coloured pictures too, always a pleasant surprise.

Now, if after reading this you still don't know what message I'm trying to convey to you.. its BUY IT. you will NOT regret it. Its a thoroughly enjoyable read and a pleasant insight into MJ's life. I'm telling everyone I know to read it! I'm just abit peeved that it goes up till 2004 as its when it was published.. but still you are not missing out. Buy it! >_<
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael is the KING ... and this book tells the story!, 14 Oct 2003
By A Customer
After reading this book, I totally understand how Michael Jackson became the King of Pop. This is an update of a book written by this author a few years ago, and I read that one, too. This is re-written, I think. There's a lot of new stuff here about Michael and Lisa Marie and Debbie Rowe, and other scandals. But in the end, it's the author's examination of Michael's career that I loved, and all of the business about the making of Thriller and the buying of the Beatles' catalogue and all of Michael's other business moves. When I finished the book, I thought, "Yep, he deserves his success." Michael seems a little lonely and a little frightened, but he also seems very human in this book. I think if you really want to know Michael Jackson, this is about as close as you're gonna get. So, I recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly researched must-read for all music fans, 10 Aug 2009
By 
lucy (London, UK) - See all my reviews
I rely heavily on reviews when purchasing products from Amazon, so I wanted to return the favour. This book is an absolute must-read. I agree with much of Mr. G. Lenaghan's review, but I would also like to add that the level of detail (excepting the later albums from 1991 onwards) is phenomenal. As you read, you find yourself wondering how on earth the author obtained the information - a conversation between two people, a scene in Neverland - but a quick glance at the selected notes and bibliography at the back of the book reveals just how much work, commitment and first-rate research goes into compiling such a megolith of a book on one of pop culture's biggest stars. It, of course, helps that the author had been interviewing Michael, his family and friends since the early 70s.

Some of my friends have balked at the size of the book. Of course it's a biggie - it's Michael Jackson! But don't let that put you off...the writing flows throughout, and I can't think of a single moment where I got bored or skipped a few pages. I would say it's one of the most well-written biographies I've ever read, in any genre.

This book will satisfy every Michael Jackson fan, every music fan and every fan of the human condition. A marvel of a book, and I eagerly await his update due out in October.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, 21 Jan 2005
By A Customer
I am a huge fan of Michael Jackson, however there are of course people who worship the ground he walk on...and to those people; I do not reccommend this book to you. The book is full of fascinating facts, anecdotes and stories about songs, relationships and Michaels career. The majority of the book is focusing on events outside MJ's career (as you may expect) but one does get a very good impression of what Michael is like as a person. Obviously the author is a journalist and does have to sell copies of his book, so not everything may be compelety true. J.Randy Taraborrelli does seem to be a 'fan' of sorts of Michael and hence writes about his incredible creative talent and things that most people don't know about such as his wanting to clean up after his children rather than a cleaner. However, there are times when Taraborrelli writes unnecesarily about Michaels private life; such as a description of his 'tender' area.
The book is extremely interesting to find out fact etc about Michael, but die hard fans would not enjoy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Can't believe I spend money on this crap, 6 Aug 2012
I have been going back and forth whether to read this book or not so a few weeks ago I decided to finally buy the Kindle version (2003 edition) because so many fans were referring to this book when talking about Michael's life. Big mistake on my part! With every page I turned, I became more disgusted by Taraborelli and my blood pressure kept rising sky high. I could not believe the little sarcastic remarks on every single page and the whole `Michael is nuts' vibe that I got from the book.

Taraborelli claims to be a friend of Michael, yet he can only present us with 1 pic of him and Michael taken in the 70's. Furthermore his whole book is dedicated to ridiculing Michael and portraying him as a spoiled, bitchy, dramatic, whining child which is - if you know Michael or have seen interviews with him and people close to him - is so far from the truth.
For one, his chapter on the Chandler case is not accurate at all. There are stories in this book, the writer couldn't possibly know and yet he writes it as if he was a fly on the wall throughout Michael's life. Overall this book reads like tabloid trash and Taraborelli takes every opportunity to throw Michael under the bus.

I can only hope that, with the autopsy report available, his last edited version of this book has some more truth in it and stays away from claims as the ridiculous story of the nose prosthetic (no prosthetic mentioned in the autopsy report), how bleaching caused his vitiligo (and not the other way around), the huge amount of plastic surgery (far less than people think which the autopsy report proofs - no cheekbones implant, no jaw implants), ...

If you want to get to know the real Michael Jackson, go watch interviews with him and people close to him (And no, his family was NOT close to him.) or watch TII and the specials that are on the DVD en blu-ray. Books I would also recommend are:
- "My Friend Michael" by Frank Cascio
- "Man in the Music" by Joe Vogel
- "Dancing the Dream" by Michael Jackson
- "Moonwalk" by Michael Jackson
- "Conspiracy" by Aphrodite Jones
- "It's all for L.O.V.E." by MJ's fans
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Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story
Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story by J. Randy Taraborrelli (Paperback - 4 Jun 2010)
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