Nov 17, 2009

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


Sandy Nawrot said...

I am going to throw my name in the hat, even though I'm not a fan of Jackson. I LOVED the Jackson Five as a kid. My cousin had their records, and we would listen and dance to them for hours. We had posters and crushes. This was sort of a big deal, living in a decidedly bigoted, all-white county. rnawrot at cfl dot rr dot com

I'm not surprised though that he comes across "off". The man WAS obviously missing something critical in his biological or mental makeup.

Anna said...

After our numerous discussions of this book while you were reading it, I already know it's not my cup of tea. If the author failed to seriously reach out to MJ when he was alive, knowing that the man was deeply troubled and on drugs, how am I supposed to believe this book isn't simply a means of gaining celebrity and making money. It certainly makes for an interesting discussion, though. I put this giveaway in my sidebar, but no need to enter me.

Diary of an Eccentric

bermudaonion said...

I don't think this is for me either. I imagine it would get tedious after a while.

Stacie said...

I remember the first time I watched the Thriller video when I was a kid. It was so scary to me back then. I loved Michael Jackson growing up in the 80s.

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, either, as I've still got this TBR problem. I'm dropping in to say awesome review and thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Staci said...

I'm not interested in the contest but I really did enjoy your review of this book. I loved the old Michael Jackson, the later person is not one I can relate to an any fashion.

DCMetroreader said...

It sounds like the author might have been trying to gloss over Jackson's demons and show only one side of him.

Mystica said...

In the 80's I was in my 30's and MJ was something almost alien in our world in a surprisingly different way. Although I kind of agree with what Anna says, I would still like to read the book and see what he has to say. Please count me in.

bookjourney said...

I am an 80's girl. My memory is my best friend and I trying to get Thriller down to a science so we could look cool at the school dances. We would watch it on MTV (remember when MTV was actually music videos?) probably 100 times.... practice, practice, practice.... yes - we were that cool. LOL

journey through books @ gmail dot com

bookjourney said...

I blogged about this giveaway - the info is linked here with my name

journey through books @ gmail dot com

Silvia said...

am a huge Michael fan. I grew up in the 80's and my fondest memory of Michael is when he first did the moonwalk on television for Motown's 25th anniversary. I was mesmerized by it, and to me, it was magic. The next day at school, everyone was talking about it, and we spent hours after school trying to do the moonwalk. RIP Michael. I will keep you in my heart forever