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Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power Kindle Edition

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Length: 386 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This useful but often flat history of legendary Motown Records is the first music-related work by Posner, who is best known for his books on the assassinations of John F. Kennedy (Case Closed) and Martin Luther King Jr. (Killing the Dream). As in his previous works, Posner is at his strongest demonstrating his meticulous research skills, most notably scouring court archives in Detroit to reveal details of how Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. often unfairly and unscrupulously dealt with artists whom he helped discover, like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. For Posner, the history of Motown is the history of Gordy, who "was a manipulator who loved stoking competitive fires," according to Marvin Gaye. The book is probably the best single compendium of stories about Gordy and his business dealings with family and friends, although many of the stories have appeared in more restrained versions in autobiographies by Gordy, Gordy's ex-wife and Ross. Posner's wealth of detail will be of immense service to future writers on Motown. But while Posner is excellent at getting all the details down about the creation of many hit recordings, his writing doesn't convey the richness of the music itself in the same way as Nelson George's did in Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound. And while Posner shows that Motown was not a mob-run company, as has been implied in other books, his interest in investigating all of Gordy's business dealings leads him to suppositions based on depositions by ex-employees that he admits no one "was able or willing to confirm."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

What? Another examination of Motown Records and "the great-grandson of a slave" and former Ford assembly-line worker--that would be Berry Gordy--who founded it! Well, the oft-told Motown tale is quintessentially American, what with Gordy and his stars' storybook rise from poverty to fame and fortune. Of course, Dame F didn't smile equally on every character in the Motown saga, which is why much of Posner's attention goes to the label's tangled legal machinations, perhaps best illustrated by Gordy's convoluted dealings with the Jackson 5, who weren't the only Motowners who resorted to litigation to remedy arrangements with Motown's boss; Posner includes details and documentation about matters ranging from Florence Ballard's dismissal from the Supremes and how the egalitarianly named trio morphed into Diana Ross and the Supremes to lawsuits filed by such other Motown mainstays as the songwriting team of Holland, Dozier, and Holland. (Was Motown VP Smokey Robinson the only happy camper?) Most of what Posner presents has been aired before, though seldom as relentlessly and with as much documentation. Like other '60s icons, Motown turns out to have had a side seamy enough to rival that of the Kennedys' Camelot. Posner roasts Motown to a turn to feed pop-culture fans' taste for destroying the idols they once worshipped. Delicious. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 2807 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0812974689
  • Publisher: Random House (April 2, 2009)
  • Publication Date: April 2, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0024CEYY0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,386 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

John Martin of ABC News says "Gerald Posner is one of the most resourceful investigators I have encountered in thirty years of journalism." Garry Wills calls Posner "a superb investigative reporter," while the Los Angeles Times dubs him "a classic-style investigative journalist." "His work is painstakingly honest journalism" concluded The Washington Post. The New York Times lauded his "exhaustive research techniques" and The Boston Globe determined Posner is "an investigative journalist whose work is marked by his thorough and meticulous research." "A resourceful investigator and skillful writer," says The Dallas Morning News.

Posner was one of the youngest attorneys (23) ever hired by the Wall Street law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. A Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (1975), he was an Honors Graduate of Hastings Law School (1978), where he served as the Associate Executive Editor for the Law Review. Of counsel to the law firm he founded, Posner and Ferrara, he is now a full time journalist and author.

In the past, he was a freelance writer on investigative issues for several news magazines, and a regular contributor to NBC, the History Channel, CNN, FOX News, CBS, and MSNBC. A former member of the National Advisory Board of the National Writers Union, Posner is also a member of the Authors Guild, PEN, The Committee to Protect Journalists, and Phi Beta Kappa. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, author, Trisha Posner, who works on all his projects (www.trishaposner.com).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Karl Miller on December 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Motown Records is either a) a hallowed sanctuary of soul music best left to be adored from afar, or b) an empire built on dirty dealing and abuse (both emotional and monetary) best exposed as an example of exploitation. Or maybe it is both. Gerald Posner has a hard time making that decision, despite a well researched and historically well documented survey of Berry Gordy (and family's) legendary contribution to the music business.
Posner has crafted a study of Motown that presents its founders, and stars as less-than-perfect (though most often well-likable) pioneers in business and entertainment, working together, though often butting heads with each other, in defining a company built on a legendary sound. Everyone is familiar with most of the players - The Gordy Family (this book delves into the family more so than most other Motown studies, and makes clear that Berry was the head, though not the sole talent of the family), Marvin Gaye (who is painted as a head case through much of the book), Diana Ross (Posner adds some new "legends" to this diva's conduct file, none of them pretty or flattering), Stevie Wonder (both respected and severely exploited, given his youth), Smokey robinson (probably the smartest businessman in the Motown stable), and others. Posner shoots down the legendary "mob-connection" tale, but fills his book with court records, verified statements from insiders, and previously published facts to present a company where competition between artists fueled the hit pipeline, but with severe cost to artists (Florence Ballard's story is still painful to read) and creativity.
This book is a great, enjoyable read in many parts, but it fails to capture any of the joy of Motown.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is the most intelligent and best-written opus on Motown currently available but why couldn't the distinguished and experienced Gerald Posner get his FACTS right? I can't believe prominent authors working with prominent publishers and I assume capable editors are stumbling all over the place these days. "Georgeanna Dobbins Tillman" as she's referred to is TWO people, Mr. Posner. Georgeanna Dobbins was one of the five original Marvelettes and cowrote "Please, Mr. Postman." She was replaced by Wanda Young before the group began recording for Motown. Georgeanna Tillman was a different person, also one of the original five.
Also: Gladys Horton was not replaced as lead singer in the Marvelettes by Anne Bogan. Well before Horton left Wanda Young has assumed the lead on records, though in person both ladies alternately led. Bogan came into the group as a background singer, only recording leads on two album tracks, one of which was pulled for a single. The final Marvelettes album was a Young solo project; Young never refused to move to L.A. nor did the Marvelettes ever make a decision to break up. They just found themselves in Detroit with no record company. Much worse: Martha Reeves not even being told the company had moved.Also: Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne were not in the Supremes the same time; Laurence sang with the Jean Terrell-led group, Payne replaced Terrell.Also: Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong did not decide to do the "Return to Love" tour. Diana Ross got the original offer, then called Mary Wilson, who wasn't in the mood to get low pay, no profits from merchandise sales and work as an employee of Miss Ross, with all the attendant disrespect implied (when Ross complained that all Wilson would have had to do is "show up" that really inflamed Wilson.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Marcus Pitts on April 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I say that as a title because while reading the book I felt like I was re-reading other books that I have read before on Motown. It was almost quoted word for word in many stories which made it difficult to keep my interest. I enjoyed parts of it because I am always interested in new information that I didn't know which is what I though the book would reveal. I love finding out information on business practices and how a company became successful. The section on the royalties, sales and payments was by far the most interesting to me. Overall Gerald Posner didn't do a bad job, I just think that the story has been told so many times by so many people that it is really hard to come up with anything new or original without referencing previously published material. From a die hard Motown fan and I would dare to call myself a self proclaimed Motown historian the book also had questionable facts. However, someone else who doesn't know the history of the company as much as I do may find it good reading. Before you take it at face value I suggest you do some cross referencing and basically do your homework regarding the facts in this book.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Looking over Mr. Posner's previous work, I expected much more. What I got instead is a book that,quite frankly, I could have written myself. It seems that Mr. Posner and I have read the same Motown books over the years. Hardly any of the info in this one is new. To be fair, Mr. Posner does reveal some info from court documents that is interesting, but these revelations are very brief and don't make up for the rest of the book..
The repeated information wouldn't be so bad if there weren't also so many inaccuracies in the rest of the book. The Supremes reunion at MOTOWN 25 was unplanned? Unrehearsed maybe, but certainly not unplanned. Marvin Gaye's song SEXUAL HEALING was his first number one hit since WHAT'S GOING ON? Not true. Florence Ballard did marry Thomas Chapman,. Yet, in this book, he is only referred to as her boyfriend, even after they had three children together.
If you know nothing about Motown, this book is a quick way to get acquainted. If you are a Motown completist, you'll probably add this book to your collection anyway. But be forwarned: ain't nothin' new!
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