MJ_BOOK_1Reviewed by Kristen B.

The Michael Jackson Tapes, by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach,boasts intimate conversations with the King of Pop, by “One of the World’s Leading Spiritual Authorities”.

Based on taped conversations, author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach used Michael’s words to secure a book deal. He then used his own opinion and speculations, fueled by religious beliefs, to paint a horrifying picture of the late Michael Jackson. Shmuley speaks so negatively about him that his motives for writing this book immediately become crystal clear – fame and money. His “holier than thou” attitude in conjunction with him referring to himself as a “friend” and “spiritual advisor” are likely to cause the reader to be quite shocked by the mean spirited manner in which he speaks about Michael.

The book is laid out in a way that the reader will view a short amount of quoted dialogue between Shmuley and Jackson. It is then followed by paragraphs of Shmuleys’ opinion of that conversation in which he bashes Michael, preaches about religion, and always finds some way to brag about himself.He is so far off base on his commentary that you wonder where he gets his ideas from – or how he could have possibly came to this particular conclusion based on the conversation that he just quoted.

People will buy this book thinking they will learn more about Michael Jackson. Unfortunately, The Michael Jackson Tapes is more about Shmuley Boteach than anyone else. Shmuley phrases long, leading questions, basically answers them himself, and puts words into Michael’s mouth. Michael often responds with two word answers, or “yes” or “no”. Shmuley then uses that conversation to rip apart Michael’s ideals and values and talk about him in an arrogant, condescending manner.

What I did take from Michael’s words was that he loved children – this he worked into just about every conversation they had, whether relevant or not.While he understood how famous he was, he spoke very humbly, and portrayed himself to be a kind and gentle person, always with good intentions.This book would have been a much better read had it been strictly the conversations transcribed, minus Shmuley’s thoughts.Although I have never considered myself a Michael Jackson fan, I have always been as intrigued by him as anyone else, and I thought his death to be both shocking and tragic. Yet, fan or not, I find myself feeling the need to defend him after reading The Michael Jackson Tapes.

It is still unclear to me whether or not these tapes were recorded with the intention of being shared with the public – if Michael gave Shmuley permission to write a book – or whether these tapes are from private conversations, not meant for anyone to hear. Shmuley alludes that he had Michael’s permission to write a book based on the tapes, but they parted ways in 2001 and never spoke again. Why did he write a book now, after his death? If he had permission, why didn’t he write it eight years ago? Would Michael really have allowed him to write a book after their falling out? I see Rabbi Shmuley as a man (supposedly a man of God) who pretended to be Michael’s friend, who gained his trust, and then took his words and twisted them horribly out of context to defame his character and ruin his legacy. I feel sorry for Michael’s children, who will no doubt someday read this book which is, ironically, dedicated to them.