November 25, 2012

Book Review: Revisionist history of Jackson's life, death

A new biography offers explanations for the King of Pop's sometimes controversial choices.

By CHRIS LEE / Los Angeles Times

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"Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson.” By Randall Sullivan. Grove Press. 704 pages. $35.

Sullivan gives a vivid rendering of the star's years in exile, "a kind of Flying Dutchman wandering the globe," after being acquitted in his 2005 criminal trial.

He first exploited the generosity of Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, second son of Bahrain's king, to the tune of $7 million.

And later, when Jackson grew disenchanted with life in the Middle East, he castle-hopped in Ireland with his children in tow, trying to kick-start his creative process with the help of a who's who of Top 40 pop stars.

But by its final six chapters – up to date through relatively recent Jackson family mini-scandals, including Prince Michael "Blanket" Jackson being allegedly menaced with a Taser by a cousin and the odd case of matriarch Katherine Jackson's supposed "kidnapping" to Arizona – "Untouchable" morphs from a penetrating expose into a joyless slog.

Even while the book's scope and depth are certainly its key selling points, the mind-numbing catalog of Jackson's legal labyrinth, roll call of interfamily beefs and humongous cast of shady characters makes for a strenuous read.

With its 53-page afterward and 189 pages of sourcing, "Untouchable" ultimately functions more like a document of record than literature.


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