NONFICTION

Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson

Grove. 2012. 704p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780802119629. $35. ebk. ISBN 9780802195654. MUSIC
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OrangeReviewStarSullivan's (The Miracle Detective) examination of Michael Jackson's final years (and what exactly made him so strange) is the kind of authoritative, definitive book that dares its readers to peek ahead to the final pages—even though the ending is already well known. The book begins with a damning anecdote that underscores how manipulative and greedy Jackson's family could be. Sullivan also reveals how the pop star wanted to give up music for an acting career—he wanted to play Spider-Man on the big screen—and that his finest role may have been as a father. Sullivan doesn't ignore the charges of pedophilia, but his take isn't damning. Ultimately, he tells an objective, thorough story that makes it feel like the author shadowed Jackson for decades. (He didn't.)
VERDICT Some of Jackson's most ardent fans have been up in arms about Sullivan's latest take on the pop icon, and this book doesn't ignore the superstar's blemishes. For everyone but the most devoted, this is the Michael Jackson book the public wanted to read when he was still alive. Surprisingly, it makes him a more sympathetic figure than readers might expect.

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