Who was the real Michael Jackson? Was he bad? Was he a smooth criminal? Was he black or white?

A fascinating new book by one of the world’s most authoritative Jackson experts answers these questions and gives the most in-depth analysis of the King of Pop ever written.

Bad: An Unprecedented Investigation into the Michael Jackson Cover-Up is described as an inside view into the dark side of a music icon, and the singer’s rise and fall. It gives fresh perspective into the singer and his warped psyche.

By probing a wealth of sources, the book’s author reveals his subject was part arch-manipulator, and part naïve victim. He exploited those around him — but was also exploited by others.

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“He was bi-polar,” says the author. “There were two Michaels, and both were so different they could never reconcile. He was a true Jekyll and Hyde character.”

One of the most fascinating insights into the singer’s personality comes from video of the singer recorded covertly during private jet flight. Jackson is unguarded and talking with his attorney about the investigation into child abuse allegations made against him.

Jackson spends much of the flight slamming Santa Barbara district attorney Tom Sneddon, the prosecutor in the case.

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According to the author: “Much to the surprise of those who had heard or seen the tape, there was no evidence of Michael’s meek,little boy voice. Instead he spoke with an authoritative tone in a deep voice.”

The author’s investigation, published by Skyhorse Publishing and out in the United States, is based on a meticulous library of source material including interviews, input from family members, pages from Jackson’s own diary, first-person accounts, thousands of pages of court documents and confidential notes from Jackson’s private investigator’s files and case notes.

The author’s scrupulous research provides one of the most authoritative accounts ever published of the star’s complex life and personality.

What’s more, the book reveals that Jackson’s oft lampooned softly spoken, shy public personae was most likely an affectation developed by the star to garner sympathy and confuse critics.

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The author writes: “To some who have long maintained that Michael is nothing like the scatter-brained innocent rube he cultivates through his image, the suggestion that Michael comes off as cutthroat and downright macho was something of a vindication.”

The author discovered that within the music industry, Jackson had a reputation as a fierce negotiator who had an eagle eye for detail.

“From an early age Michael learned to manage his own business affairs and to intelligently assess complicated contracts,” reveals the author. “Although everyone wanted to work with him, no one like negotiating with him. He was sharp and made very few business-related in his 40-year career.”

The author’s forensic account of Jackson’s demise reveals that by January 2009, however, the star’s judgement was addled by drugs and fear of financial ruin.

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He signed his final contract to deliver a series of concerts at the O2 in London without fully analyzing the details.

Initially Jackson thought he was signing up for just ten dates, but the ailing star was in fact signing a contract that could tie him in to indefinite dates.

Under the terms of the agreement, he was liable for all the costs of staging the show and would not get paid until they were recouped.

The pressure weighed heavy on the star and drove him to increasingly extreme behavior.

“Quite tragically,” explains the author, “Michael’s short-term residency at the O2 Arena had been turned into a life sentence.”

And as the book concludes, it was a sentence that eventually resulted in the star’s death.

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