Cons: Authors recount private things they have no proof of, book is hearsay and speculation
The Bottom Line: This book is just a tabloid stretched into 302 pages of hearsay, second hand info, and total speculation presented as fact. Disturbing on all kinds of levels.
I needed to add $5.00 to an order I was making to get free shipping and found Freak: Inside the Twisted World of Michael Jackson in paperback for just about that amount and tossed it into my cart. When it came, I saw that the authors were David Perel, editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer, and Suzanne Ely, a reporter for the Star tabloid and a supposed journalist. I expected sensationalism and I got that but I also got a healthy dose of "opinion presented as fact" that left me disappointed in the book and disgusted that I actually read the whole thing.
This book was originally published in 2003 but was reprinted in late 2005 to include the latest info on Jackson's child molestation trial.
The book starts out with the latest info added then reverts back to the original format which is about as organized as my garage. Essentially, the book outlines Jackson's childhood, delves into possible reasons for his freakish behavior, and relies heavily on sister LaToya's tell all book for facts.
The heart of the book is about Jackson's struggles with drug addiction, mental instability, and mostly about his lust for little boys.
There is very little that anyone with even a passing interest in Jackson and his antics doesn't know about since most of the public information in the book was originally found in the National Enquirer or seen on TV through interviews with Jackson himself. The public accounts of Jackson's behavior over the years is not in question.
What I take issue with is that this book talks as though everything the authors say is fact when, in reality, there is no way they could know the things that they report. In one part of the book, they go into great detail about Jackson's "freak out" in India when he heard the police had raided his homes and he was being accused of molesting a child in 1993. They go into detail about how Michael "lost his mind" and recount every nuance of his behavior behind closed doors. However, they give us no sources to back that up. So how could they possibly know that Jackson was in a fetal position on his bed, drugged out of his mind, and writing I love you on shreds of papers which he later scattered all over his suite?
Time and again the book tells us of specific actions and even words attributed to Jackson but doesn't say where the information comes from.
Well, the book WAS written by the editor of the National Enquirer and we all know how reliable that tabloid has been in the past.
While the book is a disturbing look at a very disturbed man, the information is all second and even third hand or speculation. It is heavily slanted against Jackson and assumes he is guilty of everything he was accused of and then some. That's fine but this is supposed to be an unbiased look at Jackson's life, one in which we, the reader, can then form our own conclusions from.
The book jumps back and forth in a confusing manner going from the present to the past and back in a dizzying fashion. It's a tough read in that it doesnt go from point A to point B. It skips all over the place forcing the reader to flip back to see what exactly the authors are referring to.
Clearly, much of the book is true. We saw the famous Martin Bashir documentary with Jackson that started a whirlwind of trouble for the already troubled star and we saw his efforts to fix the damage with Diane Sawyer on 20/20 some weeks later. Nearly everyone saw Jackson dangle his infant son over a 65 foot high balcony as throngs of fans looked on.
What we didn't see - nor did the authors although they seem to have magic powers - was the real Michael Jackson behind the scenes when he was alone or with just a few of his entourage. We didn't see the private Jackson who wasn't acting for the cameras. That was what I wanted to know more about and got an eyeful. But throughout, I kept wondering HOW the authors knew such intimate things that no one else had brought forth and which they didn't attribute to any source. As an ex-journalist, I dismissed anything not attributed to someone who was there as hearsay or speculation.
The book ends with a list of reasons why Michael Jackson is a freak, among them the fact that he has had several pet chimpanzees, he has a shrine to Elizabeth Taylor, he has undergone several surgeries (What a stunning piece of journalistic investigation!), and he has a human brain in a jar in one of his bedrooms.
I think the list at the end did more to hurt the credibility of the book than anything else. It became crystal clear that these two authors looked at Jackson as a freak in every way and they were out to make sure everyone else thought so too.
I am not a big fan of Jackson's and I do think he is disturbed and strange. But this book did nothing to educate me about the man behind all the glitz and scandal. It was a book length tabloid and nothing more.
This book is available in paperback form with an update in 2005. Its original publishing date is 2003.
This book made me feel dirty for reading it. Michael Jackson is one of the most well known entertainers in the world and his freakish behavior is widely known. However, he is still a person. This book is so inflammatory that I can't imagine how it was published without the authors being slapped with some sort of lawsuit. The allegations that have never been substantiated in a court of law are spoken about as if they were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Throughout, the authors make no bones about the fact that Jackson has been sexually active with young boys from his teen years on. They paint him as very conniving and vicious, indulging in his insatiable lust for young boys by any means necessary. This could be true. But, until the authors tell me how they know all this to be fact - not speculation - this book is just a piece of fiction with second hand sources sited (like LaToya's tell all book which she later claimed was not factual) in places and no sources sited in others.
I can't recommend this book and I wish I never read it. It's disturbing that people can write such a jarring book about anyone without having to site sources or account for their words in any way.
1 star. This isn't about whether I feel Michael Jackson is guilty of cavorting with children. It's about reading a book packed with ridiculous dramatic accounts that no one can verify.
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