Three Michael Jackson books you've got to read


If you're looking for something to read about Michael Jackson that will give you some insight into the man's talent and life, I recommend these three very different books:

1. The Michael Jackson Story, by Nelson George. First published in 1984 as a paperback quickie, The Michael Jackson Story is actually a first-rate cultural study by the journalist-critic-historian Nelson George. George draws on his deep knowledge of soul and rhythm & blues, along with lots of original reporting, to place Jackson in the history of popular music in a lively, exciting way.

2. Trapped: Michael Jackson and the Crossover Dream, by Dave Marsh. A 1985 book by the well-known rock critic that argues that Jackson's background as an abused child and his subsequent attempts to live in a safe, self-contained world of Peter Pan-like surroundings, trapped him in an artistically limiting way. Despite being critical of many of Jackson's decisions and those of the people surrounding him, Trapped also brims over with love and knowledge of Jackson's music, and offers some of the finest analyses ever about what made Jackson's hits work, and why his best music is so brilliant.

3. Moonwalk, by Michael Jackson. This 1988 autobiography was a typical bit of non-music Jackson product. Which is to say, it was marketed as a revealing tell-all but published mostly to promote his then-new album Bad, while trying assiduously to reveal as little as possible. Filled with banalities such as "The price of fame can be a heavy one" and "It hurts to be mobbed," Moonwalk ultimately cannot help but disclose more than its author intended. His chronicles of his upbringing under the brutal hand of his father Joe are far more poignant and painful than he alluded to in the TV documentary Life With Michael Jackson. And Michael's discussions of his show-biz models — what he calls "the real showmen: James Brown, Sammy Davis, Jr., Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly" — are fascinating. The book also captures Jackson's contradictions, such as when he speaks of his muscial achievements and his multi-million-dollar contracts for Pepsi-Cola commercials with equal pride. It's a rare peek into the way Jackson's mind worked.

Have you read any of these? Are there other books about Jackson you'd recommend?

Comments (56 total) Add your comment
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  • dee

    Everybody cashing in on Michael(again. I think his disgusting father should have a muzzle, he is an ignorant slob. His children should be with someone who will allow them to grow up normally and not use them for the money that comes with their care. I feel so sorry for the kids.

    • Herman

      Its because of papa Joe that saw something in his kids, so what if he pushed them. None are on dope. He must have done some things right

  • Mickie

    How can you not recommend J. Randy Tarborelli’s “Michael Jackson, The Magic and the Madness”? One of the best MJ books out there.

    • Sandi

      Sorry Mickie but J. Randy Tarborelli’s “Michael Jackson, The Magic and the Madness” is mostly Tabloid garbage, as the Jackson family stopped having any dealings with RT over 20 years ago when he started telling lies about Michael’s surgeries and implying that he had homosexual tendencies. What RT has done is written truths, then began lacing them with lies. Garbage was the final result from approx half way thru until the ending.

    • alondra

      that is so true you know how to pick books :)

  • Fan

    Are you kidding me? The most important, personal, beautiful book about MIchael Jackson was written BY Michael Jackson. It is called “Dancing The Dream”, and was released in 1991.
    It contains poems, short stories, and songs written by Michael Jackson.
    Wonderful look into the mind of an artistic genius.

    • alondra

      i never read that book but you described it so good i am so looking foward to read it:)

  • Jakeem

    You neglected to mention that MJ’s editor for the “Moonwalk” book was none other than Jackie O herself! It was she who persuaded him to write it.

  • Donna

    Mickie, I could not agree more. That book is comprehensive and not full of self-serving gobbly gook.

  • Danny

    I’ve done a lot of research and most of the books about MJ are pretty disappointing (very sensational, etc.) But I found one that presents a really solid, interesting analysis of MJ as the pop culture phenomenon that he was: “On Michael Jackson” by Margo Jefferson. Highly recommended. It’s great to finally see someone ‘reading’ Michael Jackson from the perspective of cultural criticism. It’s not overly academic, but it gets you thinking about MJ in some really interesting ways.

  • kika

    I actually agree whit DEE, I wish MJ’s kids could live away of their grandfather, he is ambitious, in a resent interview instead of thinking of how to handle the funeral, he was thinking of making money with his son’s disgasting.

  • kika

    I say I agreed with DEE, the kids should be with anybody else away of their grandfather, he is so ambitious, instead of making comments about how the funeral would be held, he was looking forward to make an album or so (That is disgasting)

  • Dixie

    I think this wholw thing with debbie rowe is discusting. Micheal is the only father those kids have ever know. They are already tramatizes and upset because of their fathers sudden death. Micheals mother is a good woman and I don’y think she will let joe exploit them. If he tries too, then there are other family members who are more than capeable of caring for them. Yes debbie should be able to visit them if they know she is their mother cause they are going ti need her, but those kids don’t deservre any more termoil or pain in their life. They loved their father. He was the light of their life. don’t desroy them over this. And let micheal a wonderful man and human being who gave so much to the world and charity rest in peace. You people make me sick and I am appauled. I have loved micheal all of my life and don’t believe a single word of any bad thing they have accused hum of. All my love and prayers to his family and friend and fellow fans. And especially his children.

    • kim

      the kids are Michaels babies he is the biological dad to all three kids look at blanket that face its Michael all over again. i am reading the Michael Jackson Tapes right now, so far it is a good book it is written by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and for and one outt here who has read and dont want there Michael Jackson books or Magizines you can donate then to me, ill be glad to read them and take great caree of them for i love to read , since im unable to work. po box 804 milton west virginia 25541

  • Dixie

    Micheal may your soul soar in heaven. No more pain, depression, and most immpotantly you are ammoung people who really love unconditionally, which is all you ever wanted all your life. I was always one of them and will remain one till the day i meet you in heaven. RIP my friend ill miss you. No one can hurt you any more.

  • PNK

    I have Moonwalk, Dancing the Dream, and the Taraborelli book, and some others I’ve read. Would like Vogel’s upcoming (I think) book, he has blogged chapters on Huffington Post, an “Album-by-Album Guide to Michael Jackson.” Parts sound really good, and he is fully assessing the music, which I find fascinating.

  • WWP

    I recommend, “The Michael Jackson Conspiracy” which depsite its rather histrionic title is well-researched book that examines how the media shaped Michael Jackson’s story and the public’s increasing inability apply reason or question. No matter what side you’re in it’s an interesting read. It’s at amazon or your library.

  • Silv

    I agree with Mickie. Insightful, unbiased, & foretelling. Tarborelli’s is a good choice.


    i think it is in gods hands god help those children

  • Sally in Chicago

    There’s a book by Ian Halperin, I haven’t read it but will be buying it. It’s Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson and he predicted 6 months ago that MJ would be dead. How ironic and tragic. It’s a bit sordid but supposedly he had good sources who shed light on MJ’s last few months. He also mentions that MJ thought he signed on for 10 shows and AEG (those B*ast*ards) upped the shows to 50. Some speculate that MJ was trying to fake a medical condition to get out of performing the 50 shows, which makes sense, and instead Od’d. AEG will make it’s millions back.
    I’ll be glad when this is all settled and over with.

    • mrs.smith

      DON”T buy ian’s book. It starts out like it is unbiased, but it NOT. The books is filled with inuendos (SP) and lies. He notes that he has sources that signed secret papers with michael, but cannot reveal their names. The book is highly deceptive and filled. Tarborelli is a better more unbiased read.

      • darysmar

        im new and i want to know what book is better

      • Connie D. Tuggle

        I truly agree with you.. I read unmasked,, I just finished Tarborelli book. I don’t think white people should not write book about us… I head a few books about our first lady.. I won’t be reading any more.

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