Elizabeth & Michael: The Queen of Hollywood and the King of Pop--A Love Story

Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson were showbiz royalty and seldom off the radar of the tabloid press, so it's no surprise that, prior to this dual biography by Donald Bogle (Dorothy Dandridge), there were more than a dozen full-length biographies devoted to their lives--plus Jackson's autobiography and four books written by Taylor. Both led fascinating and compelling lives. Although seemingly dissimilar, Taylor (1932-2011) and Jackson (1958-2009) had a lot in common. Both radiated talent, survived the transition from child star to adult performer (Jackson joined the Jackson 5 at age five, and Taylor made her first movie at nine), produced award-winning work (she won two Best Actress Oscars; he won 13 Grammys), and held the public's fascination for decades with their lavish tastes and outrageous behavior.

More than half of Elizabeth & Michael's nearly 400 pages consists of alternating chapters telling each performer's life story prior to their meeting in 1985. Together or apart, there is no lack of drama, which makes for lively and engrossing reading. Apart, there are Taylor's eight marriages, life-threatening health problems (including scoliosis, a broken back, pneumonia, brain tumor, alcohol and prescription drug addiction, and congestive heart failure) and AIDS activism; and Jackson's dysfunctional early family life, sexual abuse allegations, compulsive plastic surgery, two short marriages and financial woes. Together, they forged a fiercely loyal friendship and, according to Taylor, "told each other everything."

Despite having enough material for two solo biographies, Bogle's compressed merging of these two active lives never feels rushed or perfunctory. Bogle's Elizabeth & Michael is a skillful, fast-paced biography filled with compelling anecdotes. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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