Customer Reviews: The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation
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on September 26, 2009
I read this book because I wanted to know Michael Jackson the person, although it didn't feel right to pry this much into someone's private life. I wish I hadn't.

I had read Shmuley's thoughts about MJ on his blog and knew what was coming, and indeed he didn't disappoint. Shmuley's writing is not so much a reflection of who Michael Jackson was, but more a reflection of how judgemental he himself can be. Instead of letting Michael speak for himself, he has to tack on his own interpretation to everything that Michael said and did. An interpretation that is judgemental, biased and sanctimonious to the extreme. He's so holier-than-thou, he even puts himself above the court of law!

He delights in pointing out Michael's 'faults', and sees faults where there are none. I find it ironic that someone who always tried to see the good in others would seek help from a counsellor who always tries to find bad even in the good. This speaks more of Michael as one who always believed that there is good to be found in EVERYone. This is not megalomania, as Shmuley would put it. It is love. Something that Shmuley is sorely lacking.

Michael said that people do evil because they had not known love as a child. If their hearts were filled with love, they would not feel the need to hurt others. Clearly, nobody loves Shmuley.

He openly flogs Michael and uses Michael's 'failings' (at least in his mind) to illustrate his preachy "morality tales" of just what is wrong with society. (I wonder why he never writes about the morality of discussing other people's personal failings in public?) He even does this to some who are still living. If he gets a lawsuit out of this, he richly deserves it. Certainly there is a way to make a point without demeaning people like this. Crassness has achieved a new level. Extremely unbecoming, especially for one who calls himself a man of God.

Above all, it disgusted me how he could make public something which was shared with him in confidence. He has not only ended his own career as a confessor, he has damaged the trust that people hold for the clergy and the counselling profession as a whole. Who knows if something you told your confessor might one day be blared out for the entire world to hear? Stripped naked and held up for the world to judge and ridicule? Leave a legacy to remind your children how you failed in life? Oh wait, it's not for the world to judge, because Shmuley has ALREADY judged and is asking you to part with your money to hear HIS judgement. Nice... Aren't counsellors supposed to listen without judging? And keep your discussions confidential? What's that sound? Oh, it's 30 pieces of silver tinkling.

One could easily write another book using Shmuley's life to illustrate what is wrong with society.

At the time of their conversations, Shmuley was working on writing Michael's speech at Oxford and a book for their child prioritisation initiative - a project to encourage parents to make time for their children. Michael mostly talked about children, childlike qualities and how adults can break their conditioning and become more childlike, to return to innocence. Shmuley used these conversations and some offhand comments for a whole other purpose instead.

In their conversations, Shmuley does the bulk of the talking and puts many words into Michael's mouth. For example, he uses 80-100 words to ask one question, then Michael responds with just one: "Uh-huh." Shmuley does not interview - he gives his own views. This happens far more often than I can stand. If there is something good said by Michael, it is quickly obliterated by Shmuley's judgement and hubris. When discussing spiritual matters, it is quite pitiful to witness Shmuley's complete inability to grasp Michael's far more mature understanding. Naturally, he overcomes this with more hubris.

In this book, you will learn more about Shmuley than Michael Jackson. There is nothing new at all in here for MJ fans. If you want to look into Michael's soul, read Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections and forget about this dreck.

Shmuley's intent is clear to see. He is making a quick buck off his "dear friend". If you liked Bashir, you'll like Shmuley. If anything, this book gives an intimate view into the minds of hangers-on that Michael had suffer with his whole life - those who praise him to his face, then stab him in his back. Preferably while earning some money in the process. Don't buy this book and give this bloodsucker another penny!! (Read it for free - see comment #1.)

If this really was Michael's idea from the start, why didn't Shmuley list Michael as co-author so that Michael's children can get half the proceeds? 'Nuff said!

I truly regret reading this book because it's going to take a long time to clear my brain of all that filth. Michael's words are fine (if a tad dull), but Shmuley is insufferable.

**UPDATE** I just watched Meredith Vieira's Dateline interview with Shmuley. This was interesting because there were three instances in which Shmuley clearly lied. The first was when the interviewer asked him, "Did you betray his confidence in any way by releasing the tapes now, after his death?" and he said, not with a very straight face, no. The second was when he said he ended their relationship because Michael completely lost interest in their philanthropic project. (The truth is that Michael dumped him because Shmuley stole money from the Heal the Kids Foundation.) The third was when she asked him where the profits were going. There was a distinct change in his body language and tone of voice in all three instances. You don't even have to read this book to know that Michael never wanted it this way. Shmuley has unwittingly made that clear himself.
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on September 27, 2009
It is indeed sad that this brilliant artist's life ended so soon. It is also indeed sad that as respectful and humble as he was, no one thought life worthy enough to help Michael Jackson fight his addiction and heal his troubled soul. No one would put aside their hurt egos and busy lifestyles long enough to help a brother, friend, patient, child of God.

I, like the few who purchased this book to date, after having enough of reading the incredible news stories wanted to "hear it from the horse's mouth" some hint in his own words that would prove to me at what point Michael's life was spiraling out of control. What was the true cause of all this sadness in such a beautiful brother. When did we fail this extremely talented and giving soul. After reading this book...I guess we'll never know...

To be fair, I don't believe (as some say) what was quoted as Michael's responses during the conversations was not true because Michael had addressed many of the topics in past interviews. But I confess, as I turned the pages, my mind became suspicious about how quickly this 300-page book was produced in the two months following Michael's death. I could almost picture Dictaphone tapes from 2003 sitting in a safe or closet being dusted off and pages upon pages being churned out to meet some sort of deadline.

I find disturbing that the author writes that Michael was "...perhaps guilty of serious, terrible sins for which there might not be any redemption..." It is unclear whether he is inferring that the molestation charges were true; and if he is, he contradicts this thought when on earlier pages he defends Michael since having been at the very stage where it all began.

Another query, was when he encouraged Michael to call his father on a cell phone to forgive him for the abuse before Michael was to give a speech (written by the Rabbi) about forgiving your parents - instead of arranging quality time for both men to engage in a normal exchange which could have provided the opportunity for both men to come to terms with that time in their lives. A cell phone call just to say "I forgive you" does not constitute reconciliation - it does not mean a problem solved. Having Michael call his father minutes before a talk was indeed about validating a speech and not about helping a man reconcile with the pain that probably was instrumental in causing him so much suffering.

The chapter, "The End of Our Relationship", leaves this reader wondering why a spiritual advisor would believe any child of God was "beyond redemption". This was his reason for severing ties with Michael. Especially at the point where Michael was sending a cry for help after their falling out. The Rabbi writes, "Was he not the friend who, after I had invested two years of my life into helping him rehabilitate his, treated me as if I were a nuisance..." To this reader, that comment screams, he betrayed me! He wasted my time. I had to dismiss him from my life. That does not tell me the Rabbi was committed to "spreading the Glory of God" nor does his actions make it apparent that he truly understood what reconciliation meant.

As Michael's spiritual advisor, he should have acted as such...It is written in Matthew 18:12-14, "If a man has a 100 sheep, and one wanders away and is lost, what will he do? Won't he leave the 99 others and go out to search for the lost one? And if he finds it, he will rejoice over it more than over the 99 others safe at home? Just so, it is not my Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish." As a shepherd, you cannot rejoice - Michael is lost.
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on September 29, 2009
I rushed off to the bookstore to grab a copy of this book because I wanted to hear Michael in his own words. I have refunded the book on the same day after realizing the author's intention to exploit Michael Jackson. There's no way I would support such an unethical cause. The author was supposed to be a spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson. This book contains transcripts of the conversations between Jackson and the author that were taped during their counselling sessions. I would think that it is illegal for a counselor to expose his client's private thoughts, due to the breaching of confidentiality. Half of the book is filled with the author's own (inaccurate) interpretations of Jackson's words.

After some research, I also found out that this rabbi/author is not a credible person. Jackson and the rabbi collaborated on the "Heal the Kids" foundation back in 2000-2001 and the rabbi was appointed the overseer of this charity. However, Jackson soon cut off ties with the rabbi after finding out that he has misappropriated the funds in the charity. In fact, the rabbi and his wife have been busted for misusing the funds of other charities as well. He was also ousted from his synogogue. Jackson and the rabbi haven't spoken since 2001.

If anyone wants Michael in his own words, there is no shortage of interviews on YouTube. The interviews with Geraldo in Jan 2005 and with Rev Jesse Jackson in March 2005 (conducted in the midst of the trial when he was under the most challenges) will give you pretty good picture of Michael's very stable state of mind. His interview with Ebony magazine in 2007 also revealed his true state of mind and undying passion for life. If you want to read a book, then Aphrodite Jones' book "Michael Jackson Conspiracy" is a must-read. Also, Michael Jackson's "Dancing the Dreams" provides an excellent look at his innermost thoughts through his poems and essays.

Don't support this book.
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on September 28, 2009
Though the tenets that Rabbi Shmuley preaches are honorable, it is deplorable that they are clouded by his own judgmental and hypocritical nature. In this book, he laments that the youth of today are directionless, as children aim to be directors, not doctors, and rock stars, not rabbis; that the entertainment industry's stars have become false idols to the masses; that Elie Wiesel is literally pushed aside at a function when Michael Jackson shows up. But who put out a book on the tortured icon after his death (the dead cannot defend themselves)? Shmuley's own website URL pointing to the page about his TLC reality show reads (truncated): "/rabbi_counselor_tv_star." TV star? A reality show on TLC, the same network that airs "Jon & Kate Plus 8"? For Shmuley, it is clear that being an honorable rabbi known in his own community isn't enough -- he has to be a celebrity rabbi, and the price of that is the people's loss of confidentiality and trust.

I have my doubts that Michael consented to these tapes being transcribed for a book. Where's the recording of Michael agreeing to such an endeavor? Or the signed release? Or anything? Perhaps Michael viewed the rabbi as a counselor, thereby allowing the tape recording? The rabbi often interrupts the transcript to offer his own interpretation of Michael's words, which is to be expected, as it is HIS book and his viewpoint will be included, but the egotistical, "I write this not to brag" bits are obnoxious and fool no one -- he must remind the reader more than once that he wrote some of Michael's speeches, that his books (he name checks them several times) were bestsellers, that Michael said that meeting Shmuley was more enlightening than meeting the Dalai Lama. Shmuley's "Oh, no, I'm just an ordinary man! I'm flattered, but..." protestations are disingenuous and smack of false modesty. He professes he has no respect for Britney Spears and her sexualized image and its influence on today's youth, but he still stays with Michael in the hotel to meet her and 'N Sync. Smuley writes that he tells one of his kids later that Britney is nothing special at all. Judgmental much? Apparently, his disrespect was not strong enough to make him resist the lure of meeting them. His M.O. seems to be: meet the celebrities first, be congenial, then talk or write about them later.

Shmuley states in his book that he is friends with Uri Geller -- the magician/psychic who was busted by Johnny Carson in 1973. Geller was the one who introduced Martin Bashir to Michael, which culminated in the infamous and disastrous "Living with Michael Jackson" documentary. This is the same Geller who cashed in on Michael with his own "My Friend Michael Jackson" documentary. Shmuley also brags in the book that he's friends with Roseanne Barr, who recently came under a torrent of criticism for dressing up as Hitler while holding a sheet of burnt "Jew cookies." No one is perfect, and some respectable people make mistakes and poor decisions, but if Shmuley is going to sit on his pedestal to denounce Michael's actions and "tsk-tsk" after bits of the transcript in his book, then it is only fair that Shmuley himself and his own friends come under scrutiny.

Shmuley writes: "I had already noticed one of the biggest problems in Michael's life was the gravy train of hangers-on. If I were to ever become one of them, my very morality would be compromised." IF? The million dollar question is, what separates Shmuley from the other hangers-on? His bank account will be padded by the sales of this book. His name and face will be more recognizable given his appearances on "Dateline" and other programs to promote this book, further solidifying his celebrity rabbi status. There is, of course, no mention of his mismanagement of charity funds (the real reason Michael severed ties with him). He laments that Michael's downfall was partially due to him not having a solid support system in place (family, friends, church). How could he have that support system if even his rabbi/counselor/friend sells him out by writing a book, looking down on the star from his high horse? So the unfortunate answer is, Rabbi Shmuley is no different from the other hangers-on. What is sad is that a lot of what the rabbi preaches is sound and intriguing advice. He comes across as an intelligent and affable man capable of compassion and truly helping others. It is too bad that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing, seduced by the very industry and practices he denonces. He pats himself on the back by stating he declined Michael's invitation to his thirtieth anniversary concert, thinking that the friendship was irreparable, but whatever points he might have scored in doing so are dashed by the publication of this book. He writes near the end: "In general there are only two kinds of people: stars and planets. Those who give off an autonomous, inner light, and those who are forced to reflect a borrowed, exterior light." It is clear from this book that Shmuley found it necessary to borrow a deceased icon's light to make his own brighter.
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on October 1, 2009
"The Michael Jackson Tapes" is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's "gripping expose" of the "inner life" of the King of Pop. If one can sense the exploitation in the wake of MJ's death, it proves the saying "where there's smoke,there's fire." Michael Jackson speaks frankly about his upbringing, his spiritual journey, his children, his hopes for the future, his relationships with women--and the Rabbi adds a sanctimonious commentary to them. Had this book been only MJ's comments,it would be superior. Boteach puts words and ideas in MJ's mouth, taking advantage of his death.

Michael Jackson comes across as a sensitive,trusting,giving soul, who has redeemed himself despite childhood abuse. He isn't embittered and hateful. Unlike Boteach, he doesn't see evil as inevitable (taking the Holocaust as an example) MJ makes the powerful case that evils are preventable-on the other hand,Boteach sees atrocities as inevitable. MJ sees good as more powerful than evil. Boteach interprets MJ's belief in the power of love and compassion as a "messianic ego complex."

To make matters worse, Boteach refers to MJ as "beyond redemption" after they cut ties. What spiritual counselor would have that sense of bitter unforgiveness? Why? It shows a lack of faith in the Almighty. He claims that MJ committed suicide,despite the fact it's been confirmed he was in good health.

"The Michael Jackson Tapes" sheds light on the pop star's Jehovah's Witness upbringing, his sense of spirituality, his respect for all faiths. He is shown to be a deeply spiritual person. Tragically,the book exploits him in the wake of his death. Avoid.
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on October 2, 2009
I had heard some of the Rabbi's comments after Michael Jackson passed away and when he kept bringing up the fact that MJ was "accused" of some terrible things and he wasn't "whitewashing" Jackson's sins, I lost any respect I could have had for him as a supposed man of God. He says that he doesn't believe Jackson did the things he was accused of, and instead of leaving it at that -- he continues to say in all of the interviews he has had about this book that Michael Jackson said he sleeps with boys in the Brashir documentary. Michael Jackson does not say that even in that stupid documentary. He says, "I don't invite children to come into my room, but they ask to and I tell them that if it's ok with their parents, then it's ok with me." Brashir then tries to make something out of the sleeping arrangements and Jackson is quick to say that he doesn't sleep in the bed, but that he will give up his bed to anyone and sleep on the floor. I get so tired of people dissecting his words to say that he admits to sleeping with boys when he did not. It is so sad at the people Jackson chose to befriend because this guy tries to "whitewash" the fact that he dumped Jackson when Jackson needed his support the most and because Jackson is not here to defend himself or to give his approval to what is being printed by the Rabbi, it is all the more disturbing. But when I heard the tapes with Jackson's voice on the Rabbi's Dateline interview, I wanted to read what he himself had to say and as has been posted in other reviews, Shumley is very judgmental and edits some of Jackson's dialogue. I only read the parts where Jackson was speaking and at the end where the Rabbi goes into a diatribe about Jackson, I just shut the book. So he got my $17.00 and I hope that he's happy and can live with his decision to be another one in the conga line of people trying to gain from his fairweather relationship with Jackson. It just makes me feel all the more sorry for Michael Jackson. These people who trash him even veiled with supposed caring and concern somehow are able to sleep at night and Michael Jackson couldn't. It breaks my heart for him on that standpoint.
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on September 29, 2009
Wow, in a world of those who say they are here to help, love and support you in your time of need this guy shows he is here to make a buck! I thought when you had private therapy sessions that they were just that... private. Obviously this "Rabbi" forgot the first rule of privacy... Only the Rabbi is here saying that Michael agreed to have these tapes made into a book and released to the world...but why would Michael want that? Mike knew his life was already being scrutinized so why would he want his private therapy session released!? He wouldn't! He was with a "friend" "spiritural advisor" seeking help for himself nothing more. Michael would never have wanted these released on the air or in a book. Michael was in obvious pain and needed to express hisself to what he thought was a friend, confidant, advisor, spiritual teacher but once again as we are seeing Michael misjudged and landed himself infront of an opportunist. Shame on you Shmuley!! Support Michael and NOT this Rabbi! Moon Walk...pre order it it is a great book!
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on September 27, 2009
I must admit that I wasn't a fan of Michael Jackson, although I thought he was a great entertainer. However, my interest in him has been peaked since his death. The author purports to be a friend/confidant of Michael Jackson for a number of years. Can't come to that conclusion by reading this book! Upon completion of the book, I was saddened to know that Michael Jackson was a person who had so many sleezy people around him, the rabbi being one of them. This guy, oops, sorry, 'Rabbi' but the 'S' in Sleeze! Tell you what....I wouldn't go to his synagogue because if you tell him something in confidence, he might publish it! If you want to learn how to be an opportunist,take a page out of Rabbi Shmuley's life. He's a pro! This book was such a waste of my money and time. Don't buy this book! Wait until someone offers to sell it used for $ will probably only have to wait a couple of months....
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on September 26, 2009
I research the author of this book and I was shocked to find that this Rabbi had criticized,ridiculed and judged Michael Jackson very harshly in articles and interviews, in the past 9 years and Rabbi Shmuley never walked a mile in Michael Jackson's shoes. It is stated at wikipedia that he was not a great philosopher." The Times also cited the view of Rabbi Yitzhak Shochet of Mill Hill Synagogue that "Boteach distorted teachings to serve his own ends"
Also Shmuley sided with Martin Bashir, who Uri Geller introduce MJ to, and told Haaretz that:, "He did good in his life, and he made people happy - and [for] some of whom he was very special - but he may indeed have been guilty of very serious crimes, which no one could excuse, and if he was guilty of those crimes, he deserves to be condemned," Boteach said, referring to child molestation allegations against the pop star. Madonna stated, at the MTV Awards, that People turned their back on Michael when he needed them the most. Madonna also did a tribute to Michael Jackson at her concerts, while she was on tour, when he died. Just like Michael did for Princess Diana when she died while he was on tour.
I strongly feel that this Rabbi really screwed Michael Jackson over and now he is cashing in since Michael is dead and can not tell his side of the story on why these conversations were recorded in the firt place. I do not believe these tapes were ever intended for a book or public knowledge and No one really knows how distorted the information may be from the tapes to book since all the tapes were not played on these media shows promoting Shmuley book.
If you want something from Michael Jackson's own words get Moonwalk or Dancing The Dream.
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on September 27, 2009
On September 25, 2009, three months after Michael Jackson passed, an interview with the Rabbi was aired on national television. Rabbi Shmuley claimed that Michael had given him permission to write a book, based upon the audio-taped, intimate conversations with the superstar that he now possesses. He does not provide any written proof of that permission, nor did he seek to publish these tapes and subsequent book while Michael Jackson was alive.

Furthermore, Michael Jackson distanced himself from the Rabbi, sometime before the superstar's passing, which would indicate that there was a dissolution of the friendship and any goals that the two had planned to accomplish with one another.

Deeply troubling is the release of tapes about Michael's very personal and momentary reflections regarding his thoughts and feelings about specific people in his life, for example, references made about his father, his sister, and Madonna. Would anyone really believe that Michael would want those very private thoughts to be aired on national television? That belief is not consistent with the very private Michael Jackson that he reportedly was, nor is he present to comment about the matter.

Equally troubling, Rabbi Shmuley contributed Michael's demise primarily to the childhood woundedness that he never recovered from, even though Michael highlights how the media, consistently stereotyped the superstar in a denigrating manner, which Michael was deeply wounded by.

The Rabbi's blatant oversight regarding the environmental forces that inflicted pain upon Michael, primarily through the media's stereotyping stigmatization of the superstar, which haunted him throughout his adult life, reveals how little the Rabbi truly understood Michael's internal pain process.

Dateline needed to research the evolution of the relationship between Rabbi Shmuley and Michael Jackson before agreeing to air this unethical and perceptually, as well as factually inaccurate 'interview'. Perhaps, the network would have discovered that Michael Jackson no longer trusted the Rabbi, discontinuing his friendship with the Rabbi, due to the misuse of charity contributions that the Rabbi was entrusted to oversee.

To put it mildly, I am most deeply disappointed in Dateline, as well as in Meredith Vieira's characterization of the superstar through her narrative. Lastly, I am most deeply outraged by Rabbi Shmuley's decision to request that these tapes be aired, in order to promote a book that is highly questionable as to there being permission given by Michael Jackson.
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