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“83 Minutes: The Doctor, the Damage, and the Shocking Death of Michael Jackson”

Terri Schlichenmeyer | 6/21/2016, 4:09 p.m.
An accident, a murder, a surprise can happen in an instant that can seem like a lifetime. It doesn’t take ...

“83 Minutes: The Doctor, the Damage, and the Shocking Death of Michael Jackson” by

Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne

c.2016, Thomas Dunne Books $27.99 / higher in Canada 426 pages

by Terri Schlichenmeyer, OW contributor

It doesn’t take very long.

An accident, a murder, a surprise can happen in an instant that can seem like a lifetime. It

doesn’t take very long – or does it? The odd thing about time is that it’s shapeable, as

you’ll see in the new book “83 Minutes: The Doctor, the Damage, and the Shocking

Death of Michael Jackson” by Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne.

On June 25, 2009, when the 911 call came into the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical

Center in Los Angeles, medical staff had no idea they were in the middle of pop culture

history. The emergency operator and the paramedics he dispatched didn’t know the

identity of the man they were asked to help, but they learned soon enough that their

patient was Michael Jackson.

For Jackson, it had been a long, rough road to that moment.

Throughout his life, he’d survived loneliness, physical abuse, estrangement from family,

accidents, and scandals. Outwardly, he was a survivor, driven, a perfectionist. Behind

closed doors, though, there was something more sinister.

In the days following the making of a commercial in which Jackson so famously received

scalp burns, he was understandably in pain. Doctors administered narcotics to alleviate

his suffering and, consequently, Jackson became increasingly dependent on drugs. Later,

he complained of insomnia, and he visited several medical providers for more, different

prescriptions. He even asked for help from the doctor his children had been seeing for

their allergies.

Dr. Conrad Murray was happy to oblige.

Whether Murray was officially hired to be the personal physician for Jackson’s come-

back tour is a matter of opinion but the authors say that Murray needed money, and

assuming Jackson’s care was his chosen method. That included giving the singer drugs

which allowed Jackson to sleep but which fueled his addiction. It didn’t take long before

Jackson needed more-powerful drugs, which Murray procured in large quantities.

And on June 25, 2009, one of those drugs shook the world…

It’s rare for me to like a book before I even get to the end of Page One, but that’s what

happened with “83 Minutes.” This is an easy book to dive into.

Starting with what became a crime scene, authors Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne

then take us back 50 years to show how Michael Jackson’s death seemed to be decades in

the making. To rehash Jackson’s biography may seem redundant – haven’t there been

enough MJ books? – but it’s actually a fascinating scene-setter for the re-creation of the

dramatic events of seven years ago.

Richards and Langthorne go on to imagine what may have happened, based on what’s

known. Was Michael Jackson murdered – and if so, by whom? Their hypotheses are

intriguing, especially in light of the aftermath of Jackson’s death, his will(s), and the

legacy he left.

They say you’ll always remember where you were when you hear of certain tragedies,

and “83 Minutes” takes you there again. For fans, definitely, as well as students of pop

culture and true crime aficionados, immersion in this book won’t take long.