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The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation Hardcover – 10 Oct 2009
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The conversations themselves are very revealing, it's amazing to get to know Michael's point of view. I literally couldn't take my eyes of that book.
The only thing I didn't like about that book was Shmuley's comments on Michael, I couldn't help the feeling that because his and Michael's friendship ended in not very pleasant way he emited animosity towards Mike and even though he was probably trying to hold it back - as the author should - it seemed like he was trying to convince the reader Jackson was rather pathetic than nice, rather bizarre than amazing etc. That put me off the book because out of the tapes itself you would fall in love with Michael. Obviously nobody's perfect and I'm absolutely not saying Shmuley didn't have the right to say anything bad about him - it's good he's not idolizing him blindly or covering his flaws up, but some of his comments were quite spiteful and not objective enough in my opinion. It was not a book "The truth about Michael Jackson", it was "Shmuley's judging Michael Jackson... Oh and some tapes".
Anyway, while reading it, I've laughed, I've cried, I've hold my breath. It really is a great book because it forces you to reflect on your life. Shmuel also presents some valuable views on life itself, family, relationships, religion etc. I do have a lot of respect for that guy because (apart from doing some light-weighted Jackson-trashing) he really is a wise man and it's worth to hear what he's got to say, I'm considering buying more of his books.
In my opinion it's one of the essential books for Michael's fans!
The problem lies not with Michael's answers, but with the unscrupulous and often malicious commentaries by the rabbi, given sometimes as a summary at the end of an interview and sometimes in the form of his 'observations' during an interview. This one-time friend of Michael's has done a fine job of character assassination on a man who is not here to speak for himself now. He even states that Michael molested and abused children - and this is after the American justice system tried Michael and found him innocent on all counts. Shame on you Rabbi.
In short, during the period of their friendship, Michael allowed himself to be interviewed on tape by a person he trusted. Now he has gone, this self-seeking little rabbi has published those interviews - for his own financial gain. The transcripts of the interviews are pretty dull and nothing to get excited about - so the rabbi has spiced them up with his own views on Michael's life and lifestyle. He is no better than Martin Bashir and has behaved in much the same way - flattering Michael and 'brown-nosing' him so that he could bask in his celebrity, and after his untimely death, rushing to betray him and once again have his 15 minutes of fame. And it will be only 15 minutes of fame because, although this rabbi has apparently been writing books on 'important issues' for years - who ever heard of him before he was linked with Michael Jackson?
The main point the author is trying to make is to demonstrate the shallowness of celebrity culture, and how it can destroy the best people;
the very reason he decided not to continue collaborating with Michael, as he felt that he himself would be sucked in to this
That said, he praises Michael highly on many areas; he also continually defends him from many allegations (for example, from the regular hype that Michael was obsessed with germs and did not let his children play with anything contaminated). He certainly does not, as one reader here has commented, accuse him of child molestation. Quite the oposite, on various occasions he states that it is highly unlikely and that he did not see any sign of it on his stays at Neverland. In contrast, some writers such Randy Taraborrelli hint at it broadly.
As for the content of the tapes themselves, there was nothing on there that has not been revealed elsewhere, and nothing that Michael should feel ashamed of. And as the author states, Michael himself wanted them published.
So why only 3 stars? This is because I feel that in a way, the author himself was trying to manipulate Michael, even with good intentions, in his beliefs and behaviour. And although his advice was sensible, there was definetly a power element here - the Rabbi (along with the likes of Uri Geller, I feel) were giving themselves a power trip by being seen out and about with Michael. It seems everyone wanted a piece of him. However, he is honest enough to admit this towards the end, hence the end of his relationship with Michael. As books on MJ go, I have seen far worse.
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I found it a fascinating read, because its what he 'actually' said.Read more