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The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation    by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach order for
Michael Jackson Tapes
by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Order:  USA  Can
Vanguard, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Leslie McKee

Michael Jackson and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach shared a two year friendship that ended in 2003. Rabbi Boteach was also Jackson's spiritual guide. During those two years, over thirty hours of conversations were recorded. Those recordings form the basis for this book.

By releasing details of these conversations, Rabbi Boteach hopes to explain who Michael Jackson was, what shaped Michael's life, his relationship with his family, his sources of pain, and his views on various topics (including faith, life, death, marriage, women, children and his career). The book is nicely divided into eight parts to address these areas. Rabbi Boteach had a three-fold purpose, which is to explain: (1) Who was the real Michael Jackson? (2) What pain did he live with and try to self-medicate? (3) What moral lesson can be learned from his tragic death?

Rabbi Boteach met Michael in 1999 through psychic Uri Geller. He believes people became fixated on Michael because he was a 'very extreme version of ourselves.'

While it is refreshing to read things straight from Michael, as he was an eloquent speaker, it often appeared that Rabbi Boteach is trying to interpret the answers to support his own personal viewpoints. It is apparent that the Rabbi felt Michael wanted to be worshipped because he was desperate for attention. He also believed Michael developed a Messiah Complex.

The Rabbi's commentary often seems harsh and not much different from the typical tabloid gossip. Rabbi Boteach comes across as judgmental. He insinuates that Michael had a superstar ego that led to his reclusiveness. There seems to be a lack of compassion on the Rabbi's part. While the Rabbi encouraged Michael to develop close relationships, in an ironic twist, Rabbi Boteach destroyed the one between them.

The reader is given an opportunity to see a side of Michael Jackson rarely seen. He had visions to help children all over the world. In fact, he even worked on a program with Rabbi Boteach (Heal the Kids). Michael had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed being a practical joker. He was a gentle, but lonely, soul. Even though Rabbi Boteach thanks Michael for helping him learn to 'appreciate the infinite value of' his children and to always put them first, this book feels like he is trying to capitalize on Michael Jackson's untimely death.

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