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Motown: Money, Power, Sex, and Music

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  174 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In 1959, twenty-nine-year-old Berry Gordy, who had already given up on his dream to be a champion boxer, borrowed eight hundred dollars from his family and started a record company. A run-down bungalow sandwiched between a funeral home and a beauty shop in a poor Detroit neighborhood served as his headquarters. The building’s entrance was adorned with a large sign that imp ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published December 24th 2002 by Random House (first published 2002)
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Feb 24, 2009 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly fascinating subject, and Posner unearths some goodies, but unfortunately, he writes like an investigative journalist and not a literary one. He does not build suspense well and fails to weave the FASCINATING characters together with much depth; rather, he seems to feel like he has a laundry list of Motown dysfunction to go through with each person he covers, from Temptations lead singer David Ruffin to spurned Supreme Flo Ballard. I wish instead, Posner could re-create what it would hav ...more
Jeff Crosby
Gerald Posner's book was hard to put down, but not always for good reasons. The book made very plain that the "family feeling" Motown Music attempted to convey to the public was largely a mirage, especially after the mid-60s. His work may also make it hard to ever listen to Diana Ross's music again without pausing to consider how self-absorbed she was both durng the era with the Supremes and throughout her solo career. A fascinating tale of a man who started something with a few hundred dollars ...more
Sandra Ross
Oct 01, 2014 Sandra Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a comprehensive - and unbiased - history of Motown. Behind all the facade of what Motown appeared to be at its peak is a very sad and disturbing story of everybody associated with the label. It was interesting to me because I was too young to even know what Motown was in its heyday, and only discovered some of the artists 20 years after they were in their prime.

One of the things that I've never liked about the Motown sound is that it's formulaic. Unlike Stax and Atlantic Records (whose a
Timothy Neesam
Posner's book tells the story of Berry Gordy's Motown, and the people who came and left Detroit's hit record label. Smokey Robinson, Dave Ruffin, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, and the many, many other Motown star all get their due. If you've seen Motown: The Musical, you'll recognize all the highlights, though this book isn't really about the music at all. It's about personalities struggling with fame, with conflict and over contract disputes, rathe ...more
James G.
Oct 07, 2015 James G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a trip to the Motown Museum this summer, and swinging by Michael Jackson's birthhome in Gary, IN, I have been reading a few books on Detroit and Motown. I cried uncontrollably in the Museum. There's something about Motown: Detroit, Gordy, Motown 25 as a watershed moment in my life, what I teach my son and want him to know, Marvin Gaye, Stevie much about what's great and abysmal about the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. The author writes about MJ and q ...more
Aug 04, 2016 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was very well written and researched. I enjoy the Motown music so I figured I'd probably enjoy a book about the behind the scenes detail. I had a completely different view of the Motown artists after reading this book. They just ended up seeming to be a bunch of rich, spoiled, drunk, and drug addicted babies that forgot where they came from after their rise to the top of the music industry. It was my first time reading this author and I thought he did a fantastic job. I'll be ...more
Mar 04, 2010 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book because I live in the Detroit area and am a fan of Gerald Posner, particularly his Case Closed book on the JFK assassination. Plenty of juicy gossip about Motown stars.

Posner is out of his depth when writing about music. He lacks a certain appreciation for how these songs changed American pop culture. Still, the book is useful if you haven't read any others, and could be revelatory for the younger generation unfamiliar with the various Motown stars and their early days.
Mar 16, 2014 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book it was a lot of fun to read! Did I believe everything I read in this book ? NO! Was it a blast to read about Diana Ross allegedly trying to run over one of the Marvelette's with her car ...YES!
Frank Taranto
Nov 13, 2009 Frank Taranto rated it liked it
Shelves: history, music
A very interesting look at Motown from it's beginnings to it's end. The book focuses on Berry Gordy, as it should.
I was surprised by how much Gordy shortchanged his artists on the financial side.
Michael Karol
Good reporting but, honestly, not enough backstage gossip, which is why I bought it. Motown's my favorite music, and this doesn't really add any insights, except financial ones.
Oct 08, 2008 Aeron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not stellar, but a good book that showcased some of the behind-the-scenes drama that went on during the heyday of the iconic record label.
Jun 30, 2015 Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved reading about how an establishment such as Motown got so big and popular in such times with only $800.00.
Mister Mank
Dec 15, 2014 Mister Mank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, but ultimately tragic. A bit gossipy, but with a subtitle like "music, money, sex, and power," well...
Sep 30, 2012 Tasha rated it liked it
This book made me look at Motown in a totally different way. If the play/movie Dreamgirls were a book, this would be it.
Johnkearne2 rated it liked it
Jul 07, 2010
Mitch Randall
Mitch Randall rated it really liked it
Jun 03, 2015
Catherine T. Mauceri
Catherine T. Mauceri rated it really liked it
Feb 18, 2017
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Ray Van Horn, Jr. rated it it was amazing
Feb 11, 2012
Keenan rated it liked it
May 12, 2014
David rated it liked it
Apr 01, 2014
Lawson Patten
Lawson Patten rated it it was amazing
Jan 08, 2017
John Seymour
John Seymour rated it really liked it
Sep 01, 2014
Alex rated it it was amazing
Feb 02, 2015
John rated it really liked it
Jan 21, 2015
Krista rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2015
Terri rated it liked it
Mar 08, 2010
Steven Kaminski
Steven Kaminski rated it really liked it
Sep 24, 2014
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Feb 26, 2012
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Apr 21, 2008
Christian Herrera
Christian Herrera rated it it was amazing
Nov 28, 2012
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Lots of insight 1 3 Mar 12, 2008 07:58PM  
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Gerald Posner is an award winning journalist, bestselling author and attorney. The Los Angeles Times dubs him "a classic-style investigative journalist." "His work is painstakingly honest journalism" concluded The Washington Post. The New York Times lauded his "exhaustive research techniques" and The Boston Globe talked of Posner's "thorough and hard-edge investigation." "A meticulous and serious ...more
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