Defending A King: His Life and Legacy by Dr. Karen Moriarty

By Ekta R. Garg

January 24, 2012

Rated: Borrow it

Early in the introduction of her book, Dr. Karen Moriarty states, “This book is a sympathetic, empathic, and hopefully insightful look at Michael Jackson, who was both more and less than his public image.  It is designed to celebrate his life and to perpetuate his legacy as the transcendent man that he was and is.”  Throughout the tome that almost reaches 500 pages Moriarty labors unabashedly to deliver on her promise, but her writing style unfortunately weakens the impact the book might have had.

She opens the main section of her tribute with her own experience and her background as to how she came to undertake this project.  She then moves to Jackson’s return from abroad.  Following his infamous 2005 trial in which he’d been charged with child molestation and then acquitted, Michael Jackson left the country with his three children and spent approximately a year-and-a-half in various locations outside of the U.S.  In December of 2006 Jackson returned to the United States with his children and took up temporary residence in Las Vegas.

The 2005 trial shook Jackson’s faith in people and permanently shifted something in his personality, Moriarty attests.  Throughout the book Moriarty uses events and examples from Jackson’s life to stress a succinct point made by Thomas Mesereau, Jackson’s lawyer during the trial.  Mesereau states, “Michael Jackson was vulnerable, gullible, impressionable, and naïve.  To Michael’s great credit, he believed he could change the world with kindness, but, tragically, he was too generous to too many people.”

From the opening lines of her tribute, Moriarty uses her book exactly as the title indicates: she sets out to defend Jackson’s seemingly eccentric traits and what some perceived during his lifetime as odd behavior.  What appeared out of place to many was exactly the definition of normal for Jackson, Moriarty argues.  His bizarre behavior fit his bizarre life circumstances, she says, and no matter how people perceived his behavior there was nothing unseemly or sordid about it.

Moriarty’s loyalty clearly shines through as does her earnest desire to give Michael Jackson fans and detractors a just depiction of Jackson’s life.  What begins as a passionate defense, however, slowly spirals into redundancy and repetition.  Moriarty uses several facts and examples many times over—almost verbatim in some cases—and the constant reminders of the particulars of Jackson’s life detract from the intended effect.

While Moriarty makes her case well enough to cause the reader to end the book with a fair amount of sympathy and almost even pity for Jackson, she weakens her original goal of defending Jackson.  Instead of offering readers a solid, professional assessment of Jackson’s life and work and lacing it with her emotional connection to the singer, she allows her emotion to lead and loses the fine balance required in a work of this nature.  The result is a book that sounds less like a reasonable argument and more like a passionate fan putting forth a benevolent “I told you so” list.

Long-time Jackson fans may enjoy this book as another close look at the one-of-a-kind star.  But without firsthand interest in Michael Jackson’s life, those who came to Jackson’s music after his death may not benefit as much from Defending A King.  This reviewer recommends this book first and foremost for those Michael Jackson fans who have a long association with the singer.  All other readers may want to approach Defending A King somewhat cautiously.

Rated for


What the ratings mean:

Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection.  It’s definitely worth it!

Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.

Bypass it–Free time is precious.  Don’t spend it on this book!

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