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Madonna: An Intimate Biography

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New York Times bestselling author Taraborrelli pens the first definitive account of one of the most popular entertainers today--Madonna. Filled with disclosures about her private life and public career, this book coincides with her first tour in eight years. Photos.


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New York Times bestselling author Taraborrelli pens the first definitive account of one of the most popular entertainers today--Madonna. Filled with disclosures about her private life and public career, this book coincides with her first tour in eight years. Photos.

30 review for Madonna: An Intimate Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lilly

    Man, this book is excellent. It's like 500 pages of US Weekly. And I mean that in a good way. Fun fact: La Isla Bonita was originally written for Michael Jackson to perform. Yikes. Somehow, despite breaking the most basic rules of writing, Taraborelli managed to suck me in. In order to make the book flow, he inserted his own conjectures "Madonna must have felt that..." It's only a careful reader who will notice that half the time he's piecing together the drama and emotions, but hey, it works. Gra Man, this book is excellent. It's like 500 pages of US Weekly. And I mean that in a good way. Fun fact: La Isla Bonita was originally written for Michael Jackson to perform. Yikes. Somehow, despite breaking the most basic rules of writing, Taraborelli managed to suck me in. In order to make the book flow, he inserted his own conjectures "Madonna must have felt that..." It's only a careful reader who will notice that half the time he's piecing together the drama and emotions, but hey, it works. Granted, some of the writing is just purely absurd. Witness this paragraph, which I flagged to share with my Goodreads friends. I present to you page 324: "After a moment's hesitation, Gwenyth leapt onto the table to join her friend. Once up there, to the delight of at least 200 partygoers, Madonna and Gwenyth locked eyes and began dancing, both seemingly in a seductive trance, their movements unabashedly voluptuous. With their hands arched over their heads, they teased and beckoned each other as they performed what looked like an impromptu version of a Greek ritualistic dance called the "Tsamikos" (where each dancer clutches the corner of a white handkerchief held aloft- only there was no handkerchief between the two friends.)" Despite the brazenly cheesy writing and Madonna adulation, the author somehow managed to craft the bio into a compelling fairy tale, complete with an ending that actually choked me up.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Jacobs

    Apart from my all time fav book #GirlBoss (Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal vintage) THIS biography about Madonna is one of my most favorite books ever! I read this book in my crucial med school years when demands of coursework were high as hell and we had to work extra hard,basically all of us were drained and this book helped me overcome that crisis!!Madonna is such a badass gurl and her life is so inspiring and uplifting!(Catholic fundamentalists might disagree with that but they always do,so screw Apart from my all time fav book #GirlBoss (Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal vintage) THIS biography about Madonna is one of my most favorite books ever! I read this book in my crucial med school years when demands of coursework were high as hell and we had to work extra hard,basically all of us were drained and this book helped me overcome that crisis!!Madonna is such a badass gurl and her life is so inspiring and uplifting!(Catholic fundamentalists might disagree with that but they always do,so screw them!!) J.Randy Taraborrelli is an impressive author and I have read other books written by him,but his works on Madonna (This book) and Michael Jackson are best of them all IMO.Plus Madonna having such a kickass story about her life helped him a lot in making this book very captivating too! Madonna is an icon,a hero and a legend in her own.No other woman has accomplished as much as she has.She is sharp,funny sarcastic(Thing I adore the most about her) she is basically like a female version of WWE's Stone Cold Steve Austin. Madonna,with her innovative ideas of pushing the cultural boundaries and sheer talent has captured our harts and minds!!This is important for feminists to have positive icons WITH real merit in this day especially when the movement is critically hijacked and wounded by good for noting creeps like Sandra Fluke and THAT Lena Dunham!!Madonna dared and defied her family's will and came to NYC,initially where she was forced to eat from dumpsters!!She hanged on though on her own and with her immense talent her 1st album became a super success!Many might say Madonna 'slept through' her musical journey to the top!Of course that's totally ridiculous!But the book captures her journey soooo well!Madonna is a brilliant musician and even a better businesswoman and that really paid off by her massive success!The story of her early career as described as the most inspirational tale of our times!!Madonna is an icon but even more than that,she is an iconoclast!She has broken so many glass ceilings in the music industry and even in the popular culture that she can be declared a hall of fame in this regards!!Mr.Taraborrelli himself from an Italian family (like Madonna's) has captured Madonna's defiance vs her own conservative parents and family!I loved how she was a caring sister and took care of her siblings.Her dad used to offer prizes for achievements and she always won vs her siblings since the beginning!This competitiveness was there in her nature since she was a little girl and it only got more fierce as she launched her 1st self titled album "Madonna' (1983) and in the helped made her the musical fable she is today!! Her dad was against the idea of her dropping out of the school and sacrificing her scholarship,in order to become a full time musician.But she defied him,this soured their relationship till very recently!And she came to New York,struggled like a Phenom and made it.Yes,she used her relationships to advance her musical career but claims that she 'slept' her way around to the top is utterly BS!She had merit,talent and chose a way that was bold and provocative with the motto No publicity is a bad publicity! Not everything in her life was rosy though and she had to endure a lot of tough times in the late 70s and early 80s!She was raped,forced to give blow jobs at a gunpoint once and she comes out about it very candidly,bravely in this book too.She ate bagels from dumpsters and made professional connections,never looked backed once her 1983 album became a massive hit.Her lovers came and left but her affairs ranging from anonymous musicians to Hollywood badass heroes provide a lot of entertaining juicy tidbits!All of us have flaws and can not have at least something we crave for so badly!It's a rule and even Madonna is no exception as she always wanted to be an actress and her Hollywood career never took off!This is her achilis hill!Madonna is very influenced by another femme fatale Marilyn Monroe as per the book and book mentions how she always wanted to be like her!!Madonna in turn inspired Briney Spears and she had a great career too until that mental meltdown of 2007!! This book can do wonders if you have self esteem issues,it did for me as I read it during the time of immense stress in medical school!And it helped me a lot!Like #GirlBoss this is a story of a talent woman who defied the world,broke stereotypes and reached to the top,totally on her own! I am a fangirl of Madonna (Its pretty obvious from this review by now,right??) and it seems like the author is one too (why not?).And if you are into juicy celebrity gossips about her,you'll get that plenty in the book too!I absolutely love this book,Madonna and I recommend it to you all very highly! Cheers and happy new year 2015!! :-) 5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carolinenotes

    I only made it through a quarter of this book when I noticed that it read way too much like fiction. I've read descriptions of the author's other celeb bios and they seem to have a fictional soap opera quality to them too. I don't think I'll revisit this one, or the author's other books. I would only recommend this if you like trashy tabloid entertainment. Otherwise, seek other Madonna biographies.

  4. 5 out of 5

    W

    Madonna has been around seemingly forever,defying age and scandal.She has always actively courted controversy.This is interesting,escapist fun.Whether it is fact or fiction,that is another matter.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    J. Randy Taraborelli writes the best trashy celeb bios and this one was the perfect balm for the madness of this past Xmas holiday weekend (with its requisite family stress, commercialism overload, etc). Not as good as the pointedly-titled Call Her Miss Ross or the hilariously cheesily-titled Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness, but still fun. Madonna has the overwhelming, monstrous narcissism of both Diana Ross and Jackson (RIP), and that seems to be the core quality you need from the su J. Randy Taraborelli writes the best trashy celeb bios and this one was the perfect balm for the madness of this past Xmas holiday weekend (with its requisite family stress, commercialism overload, etc). Not as good as the pointedly-titled Call Her Miss Ross or the hilariously cheesily-titled Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness, but still fun. Madonna has the overwhelming, monstrous narcissism of both Diana Ross and Jackson (RIP), and that seems to be the core quality you need from the subject of one of these books to ensure a good, juicy read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Blech, written by a foaming fan

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leanne Curtis

    Really good Madonna bio

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    In the midst of a pandemic, you would think I have more time to read. Unfortunately being at home almost all the time, that was not the truth as I had to attend to many things and reading wasn't usually one of them. However, I did find the time to finish Madonna's biography by J. Randy Taraborrelli and as expected it felt a little salacious that focused way too much on clothes and not enough on the music. The biography is somewhat dated at this point as it only takes us up to her album Music and In the midst of a pandemic, you would think I have more time to read. Unfortunately being at home almost all the time, that was not the truth as I had to attend to many things and reading wasn't usually one of them. However, I did find the time to finish Madonna's biography by J. Randy Taraborrelli and as expected it felt a little salacious that focused way too much on clothes and not enough on the music. The biography is somewhat dated at this point as it only takes us up to her album Music and wedding to Guy Ritchie (now divorced naturally), both of which happened in the year 2000. I think I saw an update to this book containing material all the way up to 2016 which would be nice to see the added chapters since she has released a few more albums and her life has taken a few more turns. The good, the book does spend a decent amount of time on her music, growing up and getting to know Madonna. I liked that there was a focus on her early career even if it was less than memorable. I appreciated that they did take the time to go through her movie exploits. I for one have seen Body of Evidence multiple times and don't mind admitting that. There is also evidence of care that Mr. Taraborrelli took the time to show many facets of her character and not just the ones that would get him book sales. The bad, well the book does go into ridiculous detail explaining outfit on top of outfit on top of whatever outfit even her kid Rocco was wearing when he was christened. At times, I was wondering if I was reading a fashion magazine or a biography. Furthermore, the reason I read musicians' biographies is that I want to know more about their music, not necessarily who they had relations with and how much drugs they took. It's just not enough though here as we get snippets about the albums and the top ten songs she had and that's it. I want more, I want to know about the 8th track on the 6th album (Love Tried to Welcome Me) if there is information to be had. Though I did get a nice snippet that she might have worked on some tracks with one of my favorites, Robert Miles. Wish those would show up. In the end, I do give this book a recommendation based on the chapters devoted to her growing up and early career. After a while, it does feel that there is too much focus on which relationship she was in next and not her next album. (Don't forget what she wore as well) But if you stick with it, you will find out some good information about the pop goddess and everything she has done to get to this point. Enjoy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nishant Bhagat

    Madonna was someone who I grew up listening to. I remember asking my sister the meaning of the word "Preach" when the song Papa don't preach was making waves. There was was a steady diet of Madonna music, which I heard mostly as a secondary listener. I had no clue about anything except that she was supposed to be bold, brash and sexy. So when the library service threw up this book I checked it out. I wanted to know the persona behind this pop icon of yesteryear. The book starts of well and it is Madonna was someone who I grew up listening to. I remember asking my sister the meaning of the word "Preach" when the song Papa don't preach was making waves. There was was a steady diet of Madonna music, which I heard mostly as a secondary listener. I had no clue about anything except that she was supposed to be bold, brash and sexy. So when the library service threw up this book I checked it out. I wanted to know the persona behind this pop icon of yesteryear. The book starts of well and it is all very exciting to read but then it starts to drag as it continues to read more and more like a tabloid. I still can't place my finger on what is it that bugged me about this book as I read it. The author surely knows his subject and the writing is consistent. I wish this book was a 100 page lesser, probably then it may have worked. Not sure yet. Read it only if you really love Madonna, else this one can be ignored

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kingfan30

    Now I've been a fan of Madonnas for a while now and have been lucky enough to go to two of her concerts, so this was a nice opportunity to find out a bit more about her, other than what the papers say! I have to admit the author has done his homework, and comes across as a bit of a fan himself. At times he puts in the views of several people about a situation and of course everyone has different views so it could be a bit contradictory, and your still not sure what the real story was. I guess at Now I've been a fan of Madonnas for a while now and have been lucky enough to go to two of her concerts, so this was a nice opportunity to find out a bit more about her, other than what the papers say! I have to admit the author has done his homework, and comes across as a bit of a fan himself. At times he puts in the views of several people about a situation and of course everyone has different views so it could be a bit contradictory, and your still not sure what the real story was. I guess at least it lets you make your own mind up although I'm not sure I liked it. One thing I was really not keen on was the descriptions of the songs. Now I would guess that the majority of people reading this would be fans, and for those that aren't you are probably still familiar with the songs even if they are not your cup of tea! double entendres abound in 'Like a Prayer'. While devilishly danceable, the music is interrupted by a quiet break during which Madonna offers a loving homage against a backdrop of heavenly, angelic voicings. While the song feels distinctively religious, the underlying sexual tension is undeniable. The jubilant voices of a gospel choir conducted by Andre Crouch heightened the songs spiritual nature while a stingingly secular rock guitar kept it dark and mysterious. Is it really necessary? I know what it sounds like, I don't need you to tell me! Other than that an enjoyable read, she really is a bit of a character who at times has been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to further her career, but on the whole has her finger well and truly on the pulse as to where music is heading and can come up with new hits to lead the way of future music developments.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Priscilla Heard

    Madonna started out as a crude, brash young lady who considered it almost cool to constantly shock the world with her antics. She ended up taming that side of herself for the most part after giving birth to her first child. I have to admit that I was very embarrassed for her as I read the book because she revealed too much of herself to the world when she should have kept it private. She comes off as promiscuous and brags about the amount of abortions she has had due to that lifestyle. Her choic Madonna started out as a crude, brash young lady who considered it almost cool to constantly shock the world with her antics. She ended up taming that side of herself for the most part after giving birth to her first child. I have to admit that I was very embarrassed for her as I read the book because she revealed too much of herself to the world when she should have kept it private. She comes off as promiscuous and brags about the amount of abortions she has had due to that lifestyle. Her choice in men is questionable and she seems to have been emotionally immature for many years despite her age at the time. I like Madonna as an artist, specifically singer since she is not the greatest actress, but her past is a big mess. I only wish that the book had been published later because it does not cover the last ten years of her life, which I am sure is just as interesting as the ones before.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andre

    We all know Madonna is a great performer and a great artist who for sure deserves to be where she is now. This book shows her accomplishments as well as her bad side, and overall it's at least entertaining. I wish the writer would focus more on her career than on her personal life, for I'm personally more interested in what she's done to music than what she's done in bed. Also, I wonder how many of these stories are true and how much of the details are mere fiction from the author's mind. But if We all know Madonna is a great performer and a great artist who for sure deserves to be where she is now. This book shows her accomplishments as well as her bad side, and overall it's at least entertaining. I wish the writer would focus more on her career than on her personal life, for I'm personally more interested in what she's done to music than what she's done in bed. Also, I wonder how many of these stories are true and how much of the details are mere fiction from the author's mind. But if you want to know a little more about Madonna, read it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Henriette

    Not great writing but it still managed to entertain. It is also the story of a generation though, never a fan but I have been dancing to her music, and heard the occasional titbits of slander. I wonder why it is that people become such megastars and I wonder even more how they remain sane through it All. The biography also made me think that America is a puzzling country and a skizo culture in many ways, and that Madonna is that as well.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allison Floyd

    In the words of Zachary Busse, "Oh, that's right, 'intimate' means unauthorized." A fun, frothy, and fascinating affirmation of the inexorable human drive toward narrative and illustration of the fact that, just about invariably, narratives about other people (i.e. features, profiles, intimate biographies) are more about the person writing them than they are about the subject. The ending is especially ironic considering Madonna's now-defunct marriage to Guy Ritchie. Thanks, Li!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Was on the hate bandwagon before this book because everyone else was. Follows her career up to her marriage with Guy around the time she released her Music album. An interesting and simple read. It wasn't afraid to show Madonna's career under a flawed light. Doesn't disregard her work ethics or brilliance, either. I bought every album of hers after finishing this.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Tibbels

    I found this to be a very honest depiction of Madonna, which is cool, because it not only talked about the good stuff, but it didn't hide her bad qualities. Despite the fact that I haven't been that into her more recent music, I will always love and admire her!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Poorly written, jumbled catalogue of her records and boyfriends. Obviously unauthorized and had an off-putting condescending attitude towards the subject. Perhaps he had tried to sleep with her and she laughed at him, so to get her back he wrote this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steig

    I never really like to get too far removed from the myth that is Madonna, yet as a fan can't help to want to try know her better.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brent D.

    This book was able to show me the real side of Madonna. I referenced this book because of the detail and indepth analysis.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Reading this biography was fascinating: sometimes I felt horrorized (Madonna can be a real b*tch sometimes), sometimes I felt surprised, sometimes I felt delighted. A great biography. I recommend it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    oh my gosh I am so embarrassed I read this book. It was definitely below average. Christopher Ciccone's book was way better

  22. 4 out of 5

    Yuska Vonita

    The best madonna's bio i've ever read. So many funny stories, especially with Sean Penn.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A really nice and trashy biography worth reading. You get a really good picture of the super star

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    Not surprised she has daddy issues.....explains her behavior.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brian O'Leary

    If you want a trashy account of Madonna's life, and to learn what a mean spirited, self centered person she is, then this is the book for you. Funny enough, the author writes it in a sense where her having her latest child (at the time of the book) and getting married has turned her life around and transformed her into a decent human being. Then the book ends. But if you look up what happened to that marriage, it fell apart just like everything else in Madonna's life, because she treats people l If you want a trashy account of Madonna's life, and to learn what a mean spirited, self centered person she is, then this is the book for you. Funny enough, the author writes it in a sense where her having her latest child (at the time of the book) and getting married has turned her life around and transformed her into a decent human being. Then the book ends. But if you look up what happened to that marriage, it fell apart just like everything else in Madonna's life, because she treats people like trash.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kym Hamer

    It's a bit old now but I loved reading about my old idol. A star-struck 4 stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Terry

    Was an interesting insight into Madonna’s life. Think I’d rather read her story as written by her rather than another.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    This autobiography is more for Madonna fans, though I did enjoy reading it, even though I'm not really a fan of Madonna. There were times when it's absolutely appalling how Madonna sometimes treated the people around her. In her earlier days, it seemed like she didn't know how to be in a relationship, though that was probably because of her mother dying at such a young age when Madonna needed a (woman) role model to look up to. I also found that the public viewed her as a bit of a one trick pony This autobiography is more for Madonna fans, though I did enjoy reading it, even though I'm not really a fan of Madonna. There were times when it's absolutely appalling how Madonna sometimes treated the people around her. In her earlier days, it seemed like she didn't know how to be in a relationship, though that was probably because of her mother dying at such a young age when Madonna needed a (woman) role model to look up to. I also found that the public viewed her as a bit of a one trick pony after having shocked people too many times, and using that as a base on which to sell her music, thankfully she changed that in her later years after realising that she wanted her music to be in the forefront, not how she projects herself along with her music to the public. It's absolutely amazing what she learns when she does the opera film, it seemed to have made her an overall better musician.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shamsh

    A very well-written biography. The author researched Madonna down to her most intimate secrets for ten years before publishing this book. He paints a realistic picture of the star without being too condescending or too cruel. I had a great time reading this book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    A fun trashy read. Unfortunately the book ends with Madonna's marriage to Guy Richie and her Music album so it is significantly out of date.

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