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on 4 October 2009
When contemplating writing a review for this excellent book, I thought how difficult and challenging it must be for an ordinary person to research and write a biography about a quite exceptional and extraordinary person. However, I do believe that J. Randy Taraborrelli does qualify and has one distinct advantage when embarking upon such a challenging project and that is that he did actually know Michael Jackson from when they were both children. There were subsequent encounters and their lives interweaved on many occasions.

In all honesty, being someone who did not even attend a Michael Jackson concert [yes, there is most certainly a degree of regret present, now] I cannot by any stretch of the imagination consider myself a Michael Jackson fan, in the truest sense of the word. Yes, I have most certainly enjoyed his exciting music and inspiring songs, through the years; decades, in fact. Without reservation, I have certainly admired his philanthropic endeavours, been enthralled by his dancing, in addition to being, both, fascinated and intrigued by his wonderfully creative and incredibly vivid imagination. However, with all the media coverage since his sad, untimely, all too early and above all tragic demise, I felt sufficiently motivated to read and learn more about his quite extraordinary career and undeniably highly controversial life.

Among the many books available to purchase this tome then, became my chosen introduction to an `inside' account of Michael Jackson's life. In my view, I believe extensive and painstaking research has, patently, been undertaken to write such an authoritative view of Michael Jackson's life.

From the outset, this book seized my attention. I became immersed and absorbed in the content very quickly. All credit to the author, it is written in a style that is easy to read and melds events, places and timelines very smoothly. The much publicised and inauspicious Jackson family politics and conflicts are very apparent even from their fledgling days in Gary, Indiana. This is a common thread that weaves and sews its way through the entire account, right through until its concluding pages.

Through the pages of this biography, I would most definitely consider I now have a much better understanding of Michael Jackson as a person - a gifted, talented and quite exceptional human being. In my opinion one aspect of this biography that strengthens its credibility, is that the vast majority of the content was written prior to Michael Jackson's untimely death; therefore, it has not been written in the wake of his death to make a `fast buck' in the, almost, overwhelming tidal wave of words, accounts and multitude of conjectures since his death.

Overall, I believe this to be a genuine, respectful, honest, just and balanced biography. It is a sincere attempt to inform interested readers about Michael Jackson's life, musical career, inspirations, joy, sadness, pain, trials and tribulations. The book competently illustrates the numerous pressures that were brought to bear on many different levels in Michael Jackson's life [especially during his trial and court appearances] and in all honesty, there were occasions where I felt as if I could have quite easily shouted out aloud: "For God's sake, leave him alone!" Like the performer himself, this book is mesmerizing, electrifying, enlightening, occasionally uplifting, thought provoking and at times, both, moving and sad, even distressing.

In my opinion, this is an admirable book that encapsulates and does justice to the times and tribulations of [regrettably] the late Michael Jackson's life. Perhaps, given the most recent `upgrading' of this edition, with all due respect to J. Randy Taraborrelli, a more appropriate title to be considered might have been - `Michael Jackson - The Magic, The Madness, The Joy, The Sadness, The Triumphs and The Tragedies'.

Aspects of Michael Jackson's life that will remain with me is the fact he was generous, trusting and kind to a fault, in terms of time given to fans, moneys given to people he did not even know and his highly commendable philanthropic endeavours. Through this tome I found it very sad just how little genuine happiness he did actually appear to experience in his life. If one person did bring him any degree of joy, happiness, solace and genuine, heartfelt succour then it would appear to have been in his relationship with Lisa Marie Presley.

This review would not be complete if I failed to acknowledge or express gratitude to J. Randy Taraborrelli and the myriad of people who assisted him in this mammoth, superbly and comprehensively researched investigative project.

I believe Michael Jackson was; will continue to be and remain an enigma and yes, as expressed and voiced in his own words he was, quite possibly, "the loneliest person in the world".

In conclusion, I would like to say, albeit too late: Thank you Michael. Thank you for the music, the magic and the memories. You have left a wonderfully rich musical legacy and maybe, just maybe if more of us were to follow your lead there would be a way to make this world a better place.

For further reading, I would highly recommend Michael Jackson's own 'Dancing the Dream'. This is an ideal accompaniment to 'Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story'.

Finally, I would like to conclude this book review with the following quote because in terms of Michael Jackson and his premature departure from this life, it seems most apt.

". . . .Death will come, always out of season. It is the command of the Great Spirit, and all Nations and people must obey. . . ."

Black Elk - Oglala Lakota [Sioux] Nation, 1863-1950

Incidentally, if choosing to purchase this book - Please make sure you purchase the fully updated edition `Michael Jackson - The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story'.
Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story
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on 2 July 2004
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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on 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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on 7 August 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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on 21 January 2005
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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on 14 October 2003
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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on 3 August 2009
ok, i've read lots about MJ but this book strikes me as being completely honest and direct.All biographies and even autobiographies have some inaccuracies due to events being recalled after a long time, but this book seems to have been written with total integrity. It does not aim to over glorify MJ or to attack and make judgment. It is simply a well researched and mind bogglingly detailed account of MJ's life. The author met and followed MJ's life from the very early days, and you get a detailed impression of events which directly impacted him, forming him into the person he became. I nearly didn't buy this as it doesn't cover the last few years but everything you need to know about MJ, his beginning, his motivation, his influences, his massive talent, his vulnerability and negative influences are all here. Read the book, you'll feel you know and like MJ all the more for it
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on 17 October 2003
I am a huge Michael Jackson fan, and this book really helped me understand him. Lots of fans may be unhappy to see their star unmasked, but not me --- especially since the man behind the mask seems so likable, here. Coming out just before Michael's new single, "One More Chance," this huge 700-plus book does include some things I'd rather not know about -- Michael's sex life with Lisa Marie Presley (Please!!!!) -- but, on the whole, author Taraborrelli tries in every way imaginable to make Michael human in the eyes of his readers. I liked the fact that the author pulled no punches, and while some may think he should have no opinions and should just state the facts, I think J. Randy has earned the right to a point of view considering all of the reporting he has done on Michael over the years. Some of his views may annoy the most diehard of fans -- for instance, he thinks that Michael is responsible for his own poor image in the media -- but if you pull yourself away from MJ emotionally you can see the logic in some of Taraborrelli's arguments. I could not put this book down. This is THE Michael Jackson biography!
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on 17 February 2010
Having read Michael Jacksons autobiography I wanted more. Although entertaining and a nice collector's item I felt there was more to the man, it was clearly orated too. Having seen Taborelli on TV on numerous occasions after Jackson's death I thought his book would be the most accurate and trustworthy of the myriad of books written on the legendary King of pop.
The first 400 pages I felt were griping. The transformation of a working class family to one of the world's most famous families is beautifully captured, I could almost imagine being in the Jackson's new house in Los Angeles as Diana Ross comes in to say 'hello', meeting Katherine Jackson for the first time. I also enjoyed the insight we gain into Michael's adolescents and early twenties just before super stardom. The image of Michael driving around his Encino home in an electric car after a Jacksons tour was a very poignant and quite a funny image. Drawing upon numerous associates and people who worked for the Jackson family gives us reason to believe Taborelli.
However towards the end of the book I found many chapters were dedicated to Michael's business deals. Although the aim is to show Michael was not as meek as he portrayed by himself, being quite the shrewd entrepreneur, I felt it was written in a way that wasn't clear enough nor that interesting. Whilst the author used the term 'chagrin' too much and phrases such as the 'end of the day' which I feel is barley acceptable in speech let alone print.
When I finished the book I felt so sad for Michael and the emotion I had is down to good research skills and in parts good writing by Taborelli.
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on 10 March 2015
Initially, I was unsure if this book shows Michael in a positive light, or a negative light. The title, "The Magic, the Madness" led me to believe that it is just another book that focuses on tabloid rumours, plastic surgery and scandal, painting Michael as the "wacko" everybody believes him to be. However, reviews from fans were praising, so I decided to give it a shot.

While reading, I still wasn't sure if the book is pro-Michael or anti-Michael. The book begins by describing a scene in which Michael seems a little bizarre. The scene was well-written, and had my interest - immediately Michael seemed fascinating to me, and I wanted to keep reading. The whole book is very well-written, and absolutely gripping. There is not a dull moment. But... how does it make Michael look?

It does not paint Michael out to be a saint, or an angel, by any means. Character flaws are laid out on the table, and, if this book is anything to go by, then Michael was a flawed person indeed. However, at the same time, I got a feeling that the author was very fond of Michael; the author describes many times when he sat down with Michael or spoke to him on the phone, over many decades. Simply, this is an honest look at Michael, the man. At times, I was surprised at Michael's actions. I was even, I admit, ever so slightly disappointed a few times. I think there is often an image of Michael among fans that is almost angelic, and this book shows that Michael was not even close to being angelic. That image is dangerous and sets Michael up for a fall, and will have some fans disappointed. This book shows that Michael was not saintlike, and not godlike. It shows you Michael Jackson - the human being.

Extremely thorough, the author goes into great detail about Michael's life, from his humble beginnings in Gary, Indiana, to his untimely death. It's a great look at Michael's psyche - if you're interested in Michael Jackson's psychology, this is definitely the book to read. I found myself trying to understand why Michael was the way he was. There are some fascinating stories in here, stories that will either offer you a possible cause for some of his eccentricities, or leave you even more confused about who he was.

So. At the end of the day, does this book prove that Michael was straight, or gay? Well, that's up to you. Much of this book is written in a way that has you wondering, parts seemingly contradicting other parts. There are stories that will leave readers questioning Michael's sexuality, wondering if maybe Michael was secretly gay, but suppressed it due to shame, or guilt because of his religious beliefs. But then, the book continues, and has you convinced that he was heterosexual. His relationship with Lisa Marie was depicted here as 100% genuine. This book will have you playing psychologist the whole way through.

What about his innocence? Again, parts of it are entirely up to you. The case of Jordie Chandler is an uncomfortable read. The author freely admits that he doesn't know if Michael was innocent of any wrongdoing in this case, because, from his honest perspective, it's a big question mark - one moment you think he's guilty, the next, a victim of extortion. I got the impression that the author also swung from one conclusion to the next, trapped in the mystery, unable to solve the puzzle. However, in the case of Gavin Arvizo, the author is absolutely convinced that Michael was innocent, set up by a family that was out for money, or perhaps revenge. The author truly seems to be on Michael's side throughout this book, sincerely fond of Michael as a person, hopeful for his innocence, and deeply sad about his passing.

If you are looking for one book that will delve deep into the life of Michael Jackson, this is the one. Full of fascinating information, stories you'll have never heard before, this book is a real must-read for any Michael fan, or anyone who's just interested in his life, his career, or his state of mind.

"What I like about my character (in The Wiz) is his confusion. He knows that he has problems, I guess you could call them. But he doesn't know why he has them or how he got that way. And he understands that he sees things differently from the way everyone else does, but he can't put his finger on why. He's not like other people. No one understands him. So he goes through his whole life with this, uh... confusion. Everybody thinks he's very special, but, really, he's very sad. He's so, so sad. Do you understand? Do you understand his sadness?"
- Michael Jackson
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