“Dr. Moriarty is the author of a story of textbook bullying. This book should be in every library in every city, in the local high school library and be required reading in every curriculum that addresses bullying across this land. This is a story of widespread persecution of the most prolific genius and artist of the twentieth century who defined multiple generations and started the trend of music as a new humanitarian medium.” ~Rev B. Kaufmann
Book Review: “Defending A King” by Dr. Karen Moriarty
Dr. Moriarty was interviewed at A Place in Your Heart Radio
with Dr. Catherine Gross
Friday March 23 at 6 pm.
DEFENDING A KING
by Dr. Karen Moriarty, Review by Rev. B. Kaufmann
I got a note from Dr. Karen Moriarty that she had written a book about Michael Jackson called “Defending a King” asking me if I would like to review her book at Inner Michael. I had written a review of Joe Vogel’s “Man in the Music” and was in the midst of Jermaine’s book with the Casco book on deck so I told her “yes” but I wasn’t sure when I might get to it. With the transitions in my own life and a potential surgery, I asked that she be patient with me.
I am so in favor of Moriarty’s work that I wanted to post this review and direct you to a show she will be featured on—A Place in Your Heart Radio with Dr. Catherine Gross. I hope you will tune in to hear her in person on Friday, March 23 at 6PM. I know I will.
When I finally got to Dr. Moriarty’s book, the tone was a welcome change from the personal viewpoints of Jermaine and Frank Cascio. This book is without a personal agenda. Karen Is not out to redeem, remember, reform or revise history. She set out to write a book that was a comprehensive look at Michael Jackson that would reveal him and inform his legacy. She has done exactly that.
“Defending a King” is the book I would have written. It is in fact, the book I started writing before I decided to go in a different direction with my understanding of Michael Jackson, his life and work. I know the book is accurate because I went down all the same paths as Dr. Moriarty. I did the same research with the exception of the bodyguards and a few others personally involved with Mr. Jackson. I know she told the truth with this book and I am glad of it.
When I first read in the forward that Dr. Moriarty had identified herself as a fan, I winced. Oh no, not another fan perspective that worships an Idol despite all his complex humanness! Not another biography or collection that takes what other people said about Michael Jackson (who had no connection to Jackson) and squeezes out all the truth and rawness of a complex man and is a sanitized love letter! Besides, a “fan” is so easily and handily discounted by the media and medialoid alike that if I was holding a great book in my hand nobody would ever know about it because it would be dismissed out of hand by a biased media and never taken seriously. The other fear was that the book would yet again diminish the true prolific and significant artist that he was! Or worse yet, not another psychologist “authority” who deconstructs the persona through the tabloid filters and pontificates about who he might have been behind the “wounded and tragic soul he was.” Oh no!
But Karen Moriarty has, as Tom Mesereau said, written the definitive book about Michael Jackson. I was impressed with the breadth of what Moriarty discussed, the depth of insight she brings to the behavioral aspects of a man who so mystified a culture.
While I shuddered about the “fan” distinction because “Michael Jackson fans” have a reputation of their own to live down, Dr. Moriarty seems to have pulled this off—elevating and perhaps even redeeming the distinction of fan while at the same time writing a great work. The “fan” reputation is not a deserved reputation but one deliberately and maliciously constructed and perpetuated by those who cannot afford to have the truth of the Jackson story and their part in it exposed. Nevertheless, it is easy for the media to dismiss someone on the “fan” distinction alone. But Dr. Moriarty stayed within unwritten and unspoken guidelines and boundaries of where a “fan” author can go.
Her title of “doctor” and experience as a licensed psychologist and therapist serves well her authority in deconstructing the life of a man who lived under unusual and unprecedented circumstances. Jackson was ahead of his time and a genius. His genius was not clearly recognized and there are those who marginalized him to “entertainer” when he was so much more than that. Karen introduces us to the master in the craft because she sees the craft as clearly as the man. She takes us into his world and with the eye of a biographer as well as someone who has earned the right to dissect his personality and behavior; she shows us the reason for some decisions and behaviors thought odd when taken out of context.
Had Jackson not been such a cash cow and commodity for those who would and did use him to and for profit, his legacy might have read much differently. Most people are unaware of the story behind the scenes of his life and Karen adeptly takes us there. She doesn’t gush; she doesn’t excuse; she doesn’t dismiss and she doesn’t pull punches and she does all of that with a professionalism that remains intact throughout the book. There is no hidden agenda that overshadows the actual work. Her agenda is made clear to us at the outset—to defend a king because she finds him to be other than the caricature and she is clear and up front about it. She does much to right the portrait so skewed over time by a cascade of opinions based on what was said before by people who were believable and should have been right, but weren’t. They simply repeated what everyone else said, assuming the crowd knew the truth of it and repeated the myth. Remember the “aluminum tubes” of Iraq?
Moriarty fearlessly takes on all aspects of Jackson’s complicated life—his art, his parenting, his finances, his public life, private life, his philanthropy, persona, personality—in fact, there is little that she has left out. And this tale of a man, his life and his legacy has been woven so successfully as to be a flawless matrix of the fabric of his essence and existence here, there and hereafter. I applaud Dr. Moriarty’s book and recommend it without reservation. I hope when this book is purchased, that it is purchased in multiple copies. Every Jackson fan and admirer should purchase: a copy for their personal library, a copy for the local library, and a third copy to loan to both acquaintances and anyone who makes an unkind remark about Jackson. This book can be called the definitive book because it is the book the general public should read. It’s historical.
I agree with Moriarty’s rorschach MJ test: “tell me what you think and feel about Michael Jackson, what you see in him and I can tell you much about yourself.” And that is only the beginning of the “Michaelian mystery.” Dr. Karen is meticulous with her research and accuracy and understands the man behind the myth in a way that few could and would articulate and with the full force of knowledge and training behind her. Her perspective is holistic with laser precision, is descriptive and informative.
She brings us to the man as much as she brings him to us. Her examination is fair, mature, objective and is given in the context in which it occurred or with the context from which it emerged. That alone is delightful. We see Michael through other people who knew him, through the circumstances which defined him and the culture and historical setting that surrounded him.
She boldly and with the requisite authority tells us of the injustices, the assaults, the forays and predation that surrounded Mr. Michael Joe Jackson. This story of Jackson is as much the story of humanity as of a man and Moriarty gives us enough information to draw conclusions about his place and impact on a culture that failed to embrace one of its own shining heroes and worse, iconoclastically set out to destroy him and all things he loved and cherished by attempting to wrench them all away. Moriarty has written a textbook of bullying.
This book should be in every library in every city, in the local high school library and be required reading in every curriculum that addresses bullying across this land. This is a story of widespread persecution of the most prolific genius and artist of the twentieth century who defined multiple generations and started the trend of music as a new humanitarian medium.
She has done Michael Jackson fandom proud. But most of all, she has provided us with this textbook that will take its rightful place among the biographies and works examining this twentieth century enigma who knew he was one and used it as part of the genius he left with his footprint upon this planet. Perhaps one day thanks to Dr. Moriarty, they will see.
I highly suspect that Dr. Moriarty will say that the reason she undertook this monumental task was because it was there before her; it seemed to have her name on it; she had the tools and had developed the skills to do it; and she knew it was hers to do. Am I right, Dr. Moriarty? Those are the best reasons there are. To her I say: “Brava!”