Abstract: Defending A King ~ His Life & Legacy: A Michael Jackson Biography. By Dr. Karen Moriarty. 2nd ed. United States: Outskirts Press, 2012. $20.95/£14.94 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches; 538 pages. Paperback. ISBN: 978-1432794422
Book review by Elizabeth Amisu, MA, PGCE, editor of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies and author of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife.
Amisu, Elizabeth. “Academic Book Review of ‘Defending a King ~ His Life & Legacy: A Michael Jackson Biography’ by Dr. Karen Moriarty.” The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies 2, no. 3 (2016). Published electronically 13/6/16. http://michaeljacksonstudies.org/academic-book-review-of-defending-a-king-his-life-legacy-a-michael-jackson-biography-by-dr-karen-moriarty/.
Academic Book Review of ‘Defending A King ~ His Life & Legacy: A Michael Jackson Biography’ by Dr. Karen Moriarty
By Elizabeth Amisu
Heralding 579 effusive customer reviews on Amazon USA and 360 inspired customer reviews on Amazon UK, Dr Karen Moriarty’s Defending A King ~ His Life & Legacy, is definitely, without a doubt, the people’s chosen biography of Michael Jackson.
Moriarty’s book stands at an impressive 538 pages, and begins with the epigraph by F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy’. Jackson’s life often played out like a work of fiction, as comparisons of Jackson to Peter Pan abound. Moriarty’s book however, stays firmly in the solid ground of reality.
She considers the reality of Jackson’s vulnerability, as well as his naivety. Taking the extended metaphor of Jackson as king, she calls him ‘a modern-day Rorschach Inkblot Test’ (2) and argues very effectively that within Jackson people see whatever it is most in their interest to see. Moriarty presents a first-hand account of Jackson’s representation and misrepresentation in a way that is very accessible for a wide range of readers.
This particularly personal form of biographical writing is especially useful for researchers who wish to study the resonance of Jackson’s cultural impact on his fan community. Moriarty includes first-hand accounts from several of Jackson’s affiliates, including his legal attorney, Thomas Mesereau.
Her honesty, frankness and willingness to share her deepest thoughts and feelings have made this book a real commercial success. However, what is most poignant here is her stark acceptance of the difficulties Jackson’s fame brought him, both in life and death.
A heartfelt biography, much-loved by fans worldwide.
Elizabeth Amisu, author of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife, holds an MA in Early Modern English Literature from King’s College London. She is co-founder and editor of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies online. For The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies she has edited two publications, An Academic Companion to Michael Jackson Studies and Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On: An Academic Conversation – Michael Jackson & Prince; written several articles and book reviews, most notably ”Throwing Stones To Hide Your Hands’: The Mortal Persona Of Michael Jackson‘, which has been translated into Spanish and Italian; ”The Isle is Full of Noises’: Revisiting the Peter Pan of Pop‘, available in German; ”Crack Music’: Michael Jackson’s Invincible‘, also in Italian; and ”Heard it Through the Grapevine’: Are We Losing Michael Jackson All Over Again?‘, also available in Spanish. Find out more at elizabethamisu.com.
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