The Michael Jackson Tapes by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

“MJ:  Everybody’s funny bone is the same color, isn’t it? We are all the same, really.  I have seen that a lot.”  (Page 258)

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach‘s The Michael Jackson Tapes is a unique look at a larger-than-life celebrity musician in an intimate setting, but portions of the book are written like a thesis or an examination of celebrity and its adverse impact on America and its stars.  This is not a book for those looking for pictorial depictions of the star in his home or seeking titillating details about his personal relationships with women, his children, or other family members.  While family is talked about, it is not the crux of this book nor of the taped conversations between Jackson and Boteach between 2000 and 2001.

“And it’s heady stuff to be needed by a global superstar.  It makes you feel important and special and soon you close your eyes to all you know to be righteous.  The glow of fame is too bright, the gravitational pull of celebrity too difficult to resist, until you have become nothing but a satellite in its orbit.  All resistance has been quelled by the superpowerful narcotic of superstardom.”  (Page 269)

Through these recorded conversations with his acquaintance and spiritual guide — at least for a time — Michael Jackson revealed some of his demons, his joys, and his fears.  But even for all the explanations by the author of his convictions about Jackson’s innocence and sincerity, there are times when readers will uncover something amiss with Jackson — whether from the drugs or other influences is anyone’s guess.  Answers to certain questions will start off coherent and then reach the absurd, leading readers to wonder how the Rabbi failed to see something wrong with Jackson (i.e. drug abuse).  Boteach knew Jackson for just a few years, and while readers may take issue with his assessments of the celebrity or the closeness of their relationship, readers will see a side of Jackson rarely shown to the public.

“MJ:  See, why can’t we be like the trees? That come, you know, they lose their leaves in the winter, and come back as beautiful all over again in the spring, you know? It’s a sense of immortality to them, and the Bible says man was meant for immortality.”  (Page 67)

Jackson and Boteach discussed religion, family, fame, celebrity, and many other topics, with the goal of creating a book.  Jackson at one point espouses the need for celebrities to be responsible for their public displays and shows to ensure they send an appropriate message to their fans, but in many ways acted contrary to that message (i.e. grabbing his crotch during concerts, which he says he did not do consciously).

However, there are times when this book grows tedious with the repetition of Boteach’s theories and assessments of Jackson’s actions and past; it is almost like he doesn’t trust the reader to make his or her own assessments about Jackson and his downfall, which is a major drawback.  Readers will absorb and get lost in the conversations between Boteach and Jackson and enjoy the snippet of conversation included with Jackson’s mother.  The Michael Jackson Tapes seeks to bring out the flaws and the good qualities in a wayward superstar lost in his own image.

About the Author:

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is host of the award-winning national TV show, Shalom in the Home on TLC. He is also the international best-selling author of 20 books, including his most recent work, The Kosher Sutra: Eight Sacred Secrets for Reigniting Desire and Restoring Passion for Life (Harper One). His book Kosher Sex was an international blockbuster, published in 20 languages, and his recent books on the American family, Parenting With Fire and Ten Conversations You Need to Have With Your Children were both launched on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

I want to thank FSB Associates, Vanguard Press, and Author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for sending me a free copy of The Michael Jackson Tapes for review.   Clicking on cover images and titles will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; no purchases required.

I have 1 copy for 1 lucky reader anywhere in the world.  To Enter:

1.  Leave a comment on this post about your fondest memory of Michael Jackson or The Jackson Five.

2.  Blog, tweet, Facebook, or otherwise spread the word about the giveaway and leave a comment here.

Deadline is Nov. 23, 2009, at 11:59 PM EST


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