Frank: The Voice [NOOK Book]

Overview

Bestselling author James Kaplan redefines Frank Sinatra in a triumphant new biography that includes many rarely seen photographs.

Frank Sinatra was the best-known entertainer of the twenti?eth century?infinitely charismatic, lionized and notori?ous in equal measure. But despite his mammoth fame, Sinatra the man has remained an enigma. As Bob Spitz did with the Beatles, Tina...
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Frank: The Voice

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Overview

Bestselling author James Kaplan redefines Frank Sinatra in a triumphant new biography that includes many rarely seen photographs.

Frank Sinatra was the best-known entertainer of the twenti­eth century—infinitely charismatic, lionized and notori­ous in equal measure. But despite his mammoth fame, Sinatra the man has remained an enigma. As Bob Spitz did with the Beatles, Tina Brown for Diana, and Peter Guralnick for Elvis, James Kaplan goes behind the legend and hype to bring alive a force that changed popular culture in fundamental ways.

Sinatra endowed the songs he sang with the explosive conflict of his own personality. He also made the very act of listening to pop music a more personal experience than it had ever been. In Frank: The Voice, Kaplan reveals how he did it, bringing deeper insight than ever before to the complex psyche and tur­bulent life behind that incomparable vocal instrument. We relive the years 1915 to 1954 in glistening detail, experiencing as if for the first time Sinatra’s journey from the streets of Hoboken, his fall from the apex of celebrity, and his Oscar-winning return in From Here to Eternity. Here at last is the biographer who makes the reader feel what it was really like to be Frank Sinatra—as man, as musician, as tortured genius.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"The first pop superstar"; "simply the best, no one else even comes close": Such swooning accolades of Frank Sinatra rolled in long before his death in 1998. For most of us, the peaks and broad outlines of his life are well-known: his Hoboken, New Jersey birth to immigrant parents; his rise to fame with Tommy Dorsey's band; his Oscar-winning performances, Broadway musical triumphs, and success on television and in nightclubs. What James Kaplan's 800-page biography achieves goes far beyond a skeletal view of this enigmatic, driven, talented man. Simply definitive; now in paperback and NOOK Book.

Michiko Kakutani
The story of Frank Sinatra's rise and self-invention and the story of his fall and remarkable comeback had the lineaments of the most essential American myths, and their telling, Pete Hamill once argued, required a novelist, "some combination of Balzac and Raymond Chandler," who might "come closer to the elusive truth than an autobiographer as courtly as Sinatra will ever allow himself to do." Now, with Frank: The Voice, Sinatra has that chronicler in James Kaplan, a writer of fiction and nonfiction who has produced a book that has all the emotional detail and narrative momentum of a novel…Mr. Kaplan writes with genuine sympathy for the singer and a deep appreciation of his musicianship, and unlike gossipy earlier biographers…he devotes the better part of his book to an explication of Sinatra's art: the real reason readers care about him in the first place.
—The New York Times
James Gavin
…Kaplan can tell a story. His passion for Sinatra keeps the narrative flowing; he's equally fascinated by his subject's seamy and artistic sides; and he evokes period atmosphere well. While adding nothing new to our understanding of Sinatra's singing, he offers a fair synthesis of what's already been said.
—The New York Times Book Review
Louis Bayard
Let's accept the implicit contention of Frank, that a big star needs a big book - this is the first of two projected volumes - something that can situate him both horizontally, in the expanse of his times, and vertically, down to the itchiest layers of his soul.

Is Kaplan's book that book? It certainly aspires to be. A hernial sound rises from each page, as if the author were hoisting a world of scholarship onto his shoulders, and to his credit, that labor produces a stream of insights. Kaplan really gets what made Sinatra unique. … Above all, Kaplan grasps how unsuited - and at the same time, how perfect - Sinatra was for the job of American idol.
—The Washington Post

Publishers Weekly
In this riveting and fast-paced biography, Kaplan, coauthor with Jerry Lewis of Dean and Me, chronicles Sinatra's somewhat unlikely meteoric ascent to success, his failures, and his rebirth as a star of song and screen. With exhaustive, and sometimes exhausting, detail, Kaplan engagingly re-creates the young Sinatra's childhood in Hoboken, N.J., where young Frank was born, in 1915. By the time he was 12, Sinatra was singing for quarters on top of the piano in the bar in his father's tavern. At 21, Frankie joined a group that became known as the Hoboken Four, and everyone soon recognized Sinatra's great vocal gift. Kaplan expertly conducts us on a journey through Sinatra's early years with Tommy Dorsey and his long solo career; Sinatra's first marriage to Nancy Barbato and his more famous marriage to Ava Gardner; and through Sinatra's movie career and his rebirth in the early 1950s. Although Sinatra's career often faltered in the late 1940s, his partnership with Nelson Riddle and the release of the song "Young at Heart" in 1953 began Sinatra's comeback. Kaplan's enthralling tale of an American icon serves as an introduction of "old blue eyes" to a new generation of listeners while winning the hearts of Sinatra's diehard fans. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“A biography that reads like a novel. . . . Kaplan does a nimble, brightly evocative job of tracing the development of Sinatra’s art, and his remarkable rise and fall and rise again.” —Michiko Kakutani, “Top 10 Books of 2010,” The New York Times 
  
“Fascinating, superbly written. . . . Whatever you think of Ol’ Blue Eyes, he led an incredible life, and his adventures make great reading. This book is biography at its best.” —The Dallas Morning News 
 
“Marvelously thoughtful. . . . A propulsive narrative that never flags.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Jim Kaplan’s great gift is his own voice, in peak form—stylish, seductive, and richly resonant—that stands up to Sinatra’s powerful baritone. This is a perceptive, passionate biography.”  —Bob Spitz, author of The Beatles
 
“Just when you think you know all the stories . . . along comes James Kaplan’s Frank to tell us more. . . . Sinatra lovers will be enthralled.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“[Readers] will be carried along by the undeniable pleasure of reading Kaplan’s page-after-page-turner, dense with details of long-forgotten trysts and tiffs, career and emotional highs and lows, movie- and record-business shenanigans. . . . A classic.” —San Francisco Chronicle 
 
“Monumental. . . . Nobody has spun the old yarns with the raconteur’s touch and attitude that Mr. Kaplan brings to the job. . . . Illuminates the incredible-but-true origins of a 20th-century phenomenon.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Riveting. . . . The book does music history a huge favor by reminding us that from his days with Tommy Dorsey to the twilight of his Columbia years, Sinatra was a singularly incandescent vocal phenomenon.” —Stephen Holden, The New York Times
 
 “This is biography at its very best—the story of a fascinating character brought to life as never before through superb writing, impeccable research and penetrating insight.  It is a terrific book.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals
 
“With its neat dramatic arc, Frank: The Voice could be the template for the ultimate Sinatra biopic.” —Newsday
 
“The answer to ‘what is there left to say about Sinatra’ is staggeringly answered in James Kaplan’s new book. This story has never been told with such incisiveness, care, research and respect. With so many new revelations, you might never really know who Frank Sinatra is until you read this book.” —Michael Feinstein
 
“Kaplan is skilled at painting a scene, and he turns readers into ‘flies on the wall.’ . . . The music comes alive.” —The Seattle Times
 
 “James Kaplan succeeds not just in bringing Frank Sinatra alive in all his complexity, but in revealing in detail how he consciously, deliberately, and painstakingly transformed himself into a triumphantly successful entertainer and a national icon.” —Michael Korda, author of Ike
 
“A very enjoyable book that will surely enthrall Sinatra’s most serious fans. But it will also attract a whole new generation who will understand how the man who drove Bobbysoxers to the heights of emotional intensity became the sound that most likely will be considered the most important marker for the postwar era and the beginnings of the pop music phenomenon.” —Bookreporter.com
 
“Sinatra was to 20th Century stagecraft what Churchill was to statecraft: the towering presence of the age. In this lyrical narrative, suffused with a mastery of popular culture, Frank is back—this time as a major figure in American history.” —Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One   
 
“At every step of the journey, Kaplan does a good job of capturing what he feels is Sinatra’s fragile ego, contradictory impulses, and—when possible—separating fact from fiction.” —The Christian Science Monitor
 
 “At long last, we have a biography of Sinatra worthy of the man . . . a pop innovator whose influence remains incalculable, whose art remains undiminished. James Kaplan tells this story with the authority of a writer who inhabits his subject from deep inside. The pages fly by on the wings of song.” —Gary Giddins, author of Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams and Warning Shadows
Library Journal
Singer and pop icon Frank Sinatra is hardly a neglected personage. While novelist and celebrity coauthor Kaplan (Dean & Me, with Jerry Lewis; You Cannot Be Serious, with John McEnroe) clearly respects Sinatra's enormous talent, the hagiographic tone common in Sinatra books is absent here, though he is not as negative as Anthony Summers and Robyn Swan (Sinatra: The Life). Kaplan covers Sinatra's life from his birth in 1915 until the resurrection of his career in 1954 (when he won an Oscar for his role as Maggio in From Here to Eternity). His youth, persistence in pursuing a singing career, relationships with women, work with bandleader Tommy Dorsey, the controversial reversal of his draft status during World War II, and relationships with musicians and mafiosi are all presented with panache and clarity. VERDICT While this book may be the fullest account of Sinatra's first 40 years, libraries will want to have other books—perhaps Richard Havers's Sinatra—for covering his career and more in-depth analysis of his music and films.—Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville
Kirkus Reviews

For better and worse, this ambitiously epic biography of Frank Sinatra (1915–1998) reads like a movie biopic.

Over the course of nearly 700 pages, biographer Kaplan (co-author, with Jerry Lewis: Dean and Me, 2005, etc.) brings his subject up to 1954, when his Oscar-winning role in From Here to Eternity revived a career that had been on the skids (with the likes of Eddie Fisher and Perry Como far exceeding his popularity). So, is there anything new to say about 'Ol Blue Eyes? Not really, as the author draws heavily from—and frequently provides commentary on—many previous Sinatra biographies, as well as those of other crucial figures in his life, including Ava Gardner, Lana Turner et al. The distinguishing features of Kaplan's narrative are its psychological focus on the domineering mother who shaped the singer's psyche and its attempt to craft a literary style that echoes Sinatra's. Thus the author describes Gardner in her first encounter with Sinatra as "curvy, fleshy in just the right places" and later as "a sexual volcano [who] ruled him in bed." The inscrutable smile of Nancy Sinatra, the singer's first wife, "reminded him of that chick in the painting by da Vinci." His response to the passing of FDR: "death was such a strange thing: it gave him the creeps." And his reaction to the playback of "I've Got the World on a String," his revitalizing triumph with arranger Nelson Riddle: "'Jesus Christ,' he breathed, almost prayerfully, his eyes wide and blazing. "I'm back! I'm back, baby, I'm back!' " Whether readers find that such stylistic flair enhances the narrative or compromises its credibility, Kaplan humanizes his subject, illuminating both the insecure man and the artistic genius.

Ring-a-ding-ding!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385533645
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/2/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 176,814
  • File size: 8 MB

Meet the Author

JAMES KAPLAN is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose essays, reviews, and profiles have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and New York. He coau­thored John McEnroe’s autobiography, You Cannot Be Serious, a number-one New York Times bestseller, and coauthored the bestselling Dean and Me with Jerry Lewis. He lives in Westchester, New York, with his wife and three sons.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

1

A raw December Sunday afternoon in 1915, a day more like the old century than the new among the wood-frame tenements and horse-shit- flecked cobblestones of Hoboken's Little Italy, a.k.a. Guinea Town. The air smells of coal smoke and imminent snow. The kitchen of the cold-water flat on Monroe Street is full of women, all gathered around a table, all shouting at once. On the table lies a copper- haired girl, just nineteen, hugely pregnant. She moans hoarsely: the labor has stalled. The midwife wipes the poor girl's brow and motions with her other hand. A doctor is sent for. Ten long minutes later he arrives, removes his overcoat, and with a stern look around the room- he is the lone male present-opens his black bag. From the shining metallic array inside he removes his dreaded obstetric forceps, a medieval-looking instrument, and grips the baby with it, pulling hard from the mother's womb, in the violent process fearfully tearing the left side of the child's face and neck, as well as its left ear.

The doctor cuts the cord and lays the infant-a boy, huge and blue and bleeding from his wounds, and apparently dead-by the kitchen sink, quickly shifting his efforts to saving the nearly unconscious mother's life. The women lean in, mopping the mother's pallid face, shouting advice in Italian. One at the back of the scrum-perhaps the mother's mother, perhaps someone else-looks at the inert baby and takes pity. She picks it up, runs some ice-cold water from the sink over it, and slaps its back. It starts, snuffles, and begins to howl.

Mother and child both survived, but neither ever forgot the brutality of that December day. Frank Sinatra bore the scars of his birth, both physical and psychological, to the end of his years. A bear-rug- cherubic baby picture shot a few weeks after he was born was purposely taken from his right side, since the wounds on the left side of his face and neck were still angry-looking. Throughout Sinatra's vastly documented life, he would rarely-especially if he had anything to do with it-be photographed from his left. One scar, hard to disguise (though frequently airbrushed), ran diagonally from the lower-left corner of his mouth to his jawline. His ear on that side had a bifurcated lobe-the classic cauliflower-but that was the least of it: the delicate ridges and planes of his left outer ear were mashed, giving the appearance, in early pictures, of an apricot run over by a steamroller. The only connection between the sonic world and the external auditory meatus-the ear hole-was a vertical slit. Later plastic surgery would correct the problem to some extent.

That wasn't all. In childhood, a mastoid operation would leave a thick ridge of scar tissue on his neck behind the ear's base. A severe case of cystic acne in adolescence compounded his sense of disfigurement: as an adult, he would apply Max Factor pancake makeup to his face and neck every morning and again after each of the several showers he took daily.

Sinatra later told his daughter Nancy that when he was eleven, after some playmates began to call him "Scarface," he went to the house of the physician who had delivered him, determined to give the good doctor a good beating. Fortunately, the doctor wasn't home. Even when he was in his early forties, on top of the world and in the midst of an artistic outpouring unparalleled in the history of popular music, the birth trauma-and his mother-were very much on Sinatra's mind. Once, in a moment of extraordinary emotional nakedness, the singer opened up very briefly to a lover. "They weren't thinking about me," he said bitterly. "They were just thinking about my mother. They just kind of ripped me out and tossed me aside."

He was talking to Peggy Connelly, a young singer whom he met in 1955 and who, for almost three years at the apex of his career, would be as close to him as it was possible for anyone to be. The scene was Madrid, in the spring of 1956: Sinatra was in Spain shooting a movie he had little taste for. One night in a small nightclub, as he and the twenty-four-year-old Connelly sat in the dark at the edge of the dance floor, she caressed his left cheek, but when her fingertips touched his ear, he flinched. She asked him what was wrong, and he admitted he was sensitive about his deformity.

"I really don't think I had ever noticed it, truly," Connelly said many years later. "This was early on in our relationship." Sinatra then went on to spill out the whole story of his birth: his great weight (thirteen and a half pounds), the ripping forceps, the way he'd essentially been left for dead. "There was no outburst of emotion," Connelly recalled. "There was [instead] an obvious lingering bitterness about what he felt had been a stupid neglect of his infant self to concentrate only on [his] mother, intimating that he was sort of 'ripped from her entrails' and tossed aside; otherwise his torn ear might have been tended to."

In the years immediately following the harrowing birth of her only child, Dolly Sinatra seems to have compensated in her own way: she became a midwife and sometime abortionist. For the latter activity she got a nickname ("Hatpin Dolly") and a criminal record. And while she sometimes refused to accept payment for terminating pregnancies, she could afford the generosity: her legitimate business of midwifery, at $50 per procedure, a substantial sum at the time, helped support her family in handsome fashion. Strikingly, two of her arrests, one in late 1937 and one in February 1939 (just three weeks after her son's wedding), neatly bracketed Frank Sinatra's own two arrests, in November and December 1938, for the then-criminal offenses of (in the first case) seduction and (in the second) adultery. Also remarkable is that all these Sinatra arrests were sex related-and that none of them would have occurred today.

What was happening in this family? To begin to answer the question, we have to cast ourselves back into the knockabout Italian streets of Hoboken in the 1920s and 1930s-and into the thoroughly unpsychological household of Dolly and Marty Sinatra. But while it's easy to wonder what effect growing up in such a household could have had on an exquisitely sensitive genius (which Frank Sinatra indisputably was), we must also remember that he was cut from the same cloth as his parents-especially his mother, a woman he seems to have hated and loved, avoided and sought out, in equal measures, throughout his life; a woman whose personality was uncomfortably similar to his own.

The first mystery is what brought two such disparate characters as Natalina Garaventa and Anthony Martin Sinatra together in the first place. Dolly (she acquired the nickname as a little girl, for being so pretty) was, even as a very young woman, loud, relentlessly foulmouthed, brilliant (she had a natural facility for languages), and toweringly ambitious. So-to what kind of star did she imagine she was hitching her wagon when she went after (for she must have been the aggressor in the relationship) Marty Sinatra?

For he was a lug: a sweet lug, maybe, but a lug nevertheless. Short, with an obstinate-looking underbite and an early-receding hairline. A fair bantamweight prizefighter (he billed himself as Marty O'Brien, because of the anti-Italian prejudice of the times), frequently unemployed, who sometimes moonlighted as a chauffeur to make ends meet. A little man who had his arms covered in tattoos to try to look tough. Asthmatic; illiterate all his life. And exceedingly stingy with words. In his sixties, Frank Sinatra recalled listening to his parents through the bedroom wall. "Sometimes I'd be lying awake in the dark and I'd hear them talking," he said. "Or rather, I'd hear her talking and him listening. Mostly it was politics or some worthless neighbor. I remember her ranting about how Sacco and Vanzetti were framed. Because they were Italians. Which was probably true. All I'd hear from my father was like a grunt_._._._He'd just say, Eh. Eh."

It's difficult to extract much personality from the few stories told about the elder Sinatra. He seems to have had a wry and quiet sense of humor, and photographs of him as a young man appear to bear this out-it's a sweet, though dim, face. Nancy Sinatra, in Frank Sinatra, My Father, tries to paint her grandfather as a lovable practical joker: There was the time Marty gave a pal a laxative and spread glue on the outhouse toilet seat. And then there was Marty's revenge on a deadbeat barkeep who tried to pay off a debt to him with a sick horse instead of cash: her grandfather, Nancy says, walked the horse to the saloon in the middle of the night and shot it dead in the doorway, leaving the carcass as a discouragement to business.

Rough humor! The joke has a Sicilian tinge to it, and Sicily is where Marty came from, in 1903, aged nine, when he landed at Ellis Island with his mother and two little sisters to join his father, Francesco Sinatra, who-in the common practice of the day-had arrived in America three years earlier to establish himself.

Dolly Garaventa's people were from the north of Italy, near Genoa. And the ancient, deeply held social prejudice on the part of northern Italians toward southerners makes it doubly difficult to imagine what was on her mind when, at sixteen, she set her cap for the eighteen- year-old Marty. Was it irresistible attraction? Or adolescent rebellion-the chance to stick it to her parents, the lure of the bad boy? It's said that little Dolly (she was under five feet, and just ninety pounds) used to disguise herself as a boy to sneak into Marty's prizefights, her strawberry blond hair stuffed into a newsboy cap, a cigar stuck in her mouth: a sweet story, with a ring of truth about it, bespeaking her willfulness, her force. And her originality.

Against her family's outcry (and probably at her urging), the two eloped, ages seventeen and nineteen, and were married at the Jersey City city hall on Valentine's Day (a holiday that would loom large at two junctures in Frank Sinatra's first marriage) 1913. On the marriage certificate, Marty gave his occupation as athlete. In truth, he only ate regularly because his parents owned a grocery store. Soon the couple made it up with her parents, got remarried in the church, and set up housekeeping in the cold-water flat at 415 Monroe Street.

Every family is a mystery, but some are more mysterious than others. After Dolly and Marty Sinatra's only child was born, theirs was a centrifugal household. Family lore says that the birth rendered Dolly unable to have more children, but it seems equally likely she simply decided-she was a decider-she didn't want to go through that again. Besides, she had many other fish to fry. Her skill with Italian dialects and her fluency in English led her to become a facilitator for new immigrants who had court business, such as trying to get citizenship papers. Her appearances in court brought her to the attention of local Democratic politicians-the Irish bosses of Hoboken- who, impressed by the force of her personality and her connection with the community, saw in her a natural ward leader. Soon she was getting out votes, petitioning city hall (as part of a demonstration for suffrage in 1919, she chained herself to the building's fence), campaigning for candidates, collecting favors. All the while roaming the streets of Hoboken with her black midwife's bag.

It all meant she simply wasn't at home very much. In any case, home wasn't the place for Dolly: she was out, not in; she had the politician's temperament-restless, energetic, unreflective. And she had unique ideas about child rearing. Of course, to present-day sensibilities filled with the art and science of what we now call parenting, child rearing in the early twentieth century has a distinctly primitive look to it. Poor and lower-middle-class families were large, and with the parents either working or simply exhausted, the older children-or the streets-frequently raised the young.

Neither was an option for Frank Sinatra. As an only child in Hoboken in the 1920s and 1930s, he was an anomaly. His mother paid him both too much attention and too little. Having wanted a girl, she dressed him in pink baby clothes. Once he was walking, there were Little Lord Fauntleroy outfits.

He was the apple of his parents' eye and their ball and chain. Dolly had babies or votes to deliver; Marty had things to do. Italian men left the house whether they were employed or not, if only to sit somewhere and sip a beverage with pals. Late in the second decade of the twentieth century, Dolly borrowed money from her family, and she and Marty bought a bar, on the corner of Jefferson and Fourth, which they called Marty O'Brien's. While they ran the place, little Frankie was looked after by his grandmother or a cousin or, most regularly, a nice Jewish neighbor named Mrs. Golden. She taught him Yiddish.

When Dolly was with her son, she alternately coddled him-beautiful clothes continued to be a theme-and abused him. In those days it was known as discipline. The child was spirited, and so was the mother. It's a miracle the child kept his spirit. Dolly once pushed her son down a flight of stairs, knocking him unconscious. She playfully ducked his head under the ocean waves, terrifying him (remarkably, he became an expert swimmer). And most regularly, she hit him with a stick. It was a small bat, actually, something like a policeman's nightstick: it was kept behind the bar at Marty O'Brien's.

"When I would get out of hand," Sinatra told Pete Hamill, "she would give me a rap with that little club; then she'd hug me to her breast."

"She was a pisser," he recollected to Shirley MacLaine. "She scared the shit outta me. Never knew what she'd hate that I'd do."

If the primary intimacy was up for grabs, so was every subsequent relationship: Sinatra would feel ambivalent about women until the end of his days. He would show every lover something of what Dolly had shown him.

It seems straight out of a textbook: an only child, both spoiled and neglected, praised to the skies and viciously cut down when he fails to please, grows up suffering an infinite neediness, an inability to be alone, and cycles of grandiosity and bottomless depression.

"I think my dad desperately wanted to do the best he could for the people he loved," Tina Sinatra writes, "but ultimately he would do what he needed to do for himself. (In that, he was his mother's son.)"

Yet that doesn't quite tell the whole story. Yes, Frank Sinatra was born with a character (inevitably) similar to Dolly's, but nature is only half the equation. Frank Sinatra did what he needed to do for himself because he had learned from earliest childhood to trust no one-even the one in whom he should have been able to place ultimate trust.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 75 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 75 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Extraordinary and Highly Recommended

    This is not just one more biography to join the innumerable list of one of the world's greatest entertainers, Frank Sinatra. Kaplan's exhaustive research and straightforward style reveal new and never before written details of Sinatra's extraordinary, tumultuous, and complicated life. It is written with almost the same aggressive, in your face, larger than life way, in which Frank Sinatra lived his life. Kaplan tells it bluntly, yet exhaustively, always probing into one of the eras great and powerful entertainers and showing the reader what a gifted, troubled, and multi-layerd man he was. The cliche and over used claim of a book being a "page turner" actually is right on target here. it just never let's go. An important, meaningful addition to the legendary Frank Sinatra. Read it whether you are a life long fan or critic and you will come away with even more insight into one of America's singular talents.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book

    I feel like I was living with Sinatra through this book and can't wait for the next one. What a fascinating man and of course, I am a fan of his singing. Kaplan was so exacting and I wish I could have heard every song he discussed....and now I discovered how to on this machine. Great read ... I couldn't put it down. Whether you know who he is, read it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I am excited to read about my old freind.

    I was on Franks arm for 12 years back in the 60's in Las Vegas .
    we had a blast together. No one knows about me yet my book Breaking My Silence: Will tell it all for everyone to read. I must tell my story to help other gals in the life style I lived in Vegas.


    best Jane McCormick

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Where's the rest of the story?

    If you're looking for a comprehensive biography of Frank Sinatra, you won't find it here. Too much time spent on Ava Gardner and no time addressing the 1960's Sinatra and the classic Reprise recording era. I learned more than I cared to know about the young Frank and his hijinks.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    fascinating psychology of Frank

    great author (I am now reading one he co-authored with Jerry Lewis).
    emphasizes how great Sinatra becomes at his art, and also how flawed in his personal life. How he hates to be alone at night, how he behaved as a high roller, the promiscuity, alcohol and cigarettes. How he was spoiled and had tantrums if he didn't get his way or cut off a friend who he perceived offended him. How he always had muscle nearby in case of real or imagined enemies. All the while reaching the peak of his singing career. Theory about how the emotion came through his voice, making him an idol of teens. A wonderful study of greatness mixed with insecurity. It only goes past his comeback in From Here to Eternity in 1953. Covers the Ava Gardner years and some of the Vegas years. I loved the ride.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    A great lesson in Hollywood history

    I thoroughly enjoyed this biography, not only because of the in-depth portrayal of Frank, but also because of the behind-the-scenes look at Frank's world. From recording studios to the big screen, as well as the people who made him great, I was intrigued and engaged in the life Frank led. I felt myself sitting on the sidelines rooting him on and praising the likes of Nelson Riddle and Jimmy VanHeusen for their efforts to protect Frank for the genius he was, thus helping him to be successful despite his personal issues. The only criticism I had is that the story ended way too soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    I couldnt put this one down

    I was so sorry to see this one end... i was totally absorbed into the life of Frank Sinatra while reading this book... rumor has it that its the 1st in a trilogy and man i hope so... i will keep my eye out for 2 & 3... Great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

    Sinatra is very, very self-serving!!!

    Would not recommend this read at all. There is a lot of repetition through the narrative and a sense of disorganization of points in time, his life events, etc. Truly, I was looking for some redeeming qualities in the man, but unfortunately, other than a notable voice, he was a very selfish, uncaring individual unless it suited his fame. WOW! What an unfortunate eye opener.

    Also, no mention of the Rat Pack for which he was part of and a group that did have some familiar highlights in the 50s 60s 70s decades.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2011

    recommended

    I would recommend this book if you like to read about Sinatra's ties to mafioso! And, if you want to get disillusioned by the goings on of
    Lana Turner, Marilyn Maxwell, Ava Gardner and so on and so on. All these people seemed to do in their lives was to drink and have sex......once in a while Frank would sing or sometimes not even show up because he was busy with one of those women. I read those 700 pages in a few days....did not bother with the mafia stories. I used to have these people on a pedestal, but not anymore. How sad for all of them....money makes strange bedfellows!! I do still like 'ole blue eyes, but just cannot believe all the drinking and sex that went on with these women who I used to think had some class. The book is written very well and is interesting if you like to read about what I stated. I would highly recommend The Help instead.....something which most people in The Voice could use !

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  • Posted July 4, 2011

    Wont buy to pricey......

    Wont read till price drops

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyable Reading of an Entertainer

    This was my first eBook and a good way for me to begin using this medium as a reading tool. Before discussing "Frank" I must offer that this style of reading is quite handy. This reading occured while simultaneously reading a hard copy of "Washington" by Ron Chernow. The ease of carrying my Nookcolor at distances away from home or work really will make you aware that your reading should not be deterred by any restricted location you may find yourself in. The reading of eBook technology is not a matter of a format replacing another, hardcopy. It actually expands your accessablility to reading and even greater. I was able to read in times and places where I never before would have considered. For example, two weeks ago in a concert auditorium before seeing Franc D'Ambrosio (remember The Phantom of the Opera?) What makes and how does an individual become such an outstanding vocalist? And what do they really go through to reach the top? How about their sideline interest, perks, achievements and failings, handicapps and etc? Frank was a pistol but unmistakably he could sing. It seemed he lived life in an upheaval of stress, his work, his women and family. The author, James Kaplan, does great here. He kept me entertained to the end. The photo entries are excellent and the story of Eva Gardner has led me to begin now a book on her, a fellow Tarheel. Kaplan uses colorful language that I feel is not misapplied considering his subject's experience. I liked this book alot and I understand that a followup is in the works, if I am not mistaken. I'm ready for it. Try this book out, you'll like it.

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A must read for any Frank Sinatra fan

    This is a very unique biography. I have been a Sinatra fan for many years and I thought I knew everything there is to know, but this book went into such depth and detail I walked away with even more respect for this man and feeling that I had been there with him through all his bad times and good. The writing and research is amazing. Good job!!

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    Highly + recommended!!!

    As one of the "bobby sock" group, I especially appreciated reading more detailed info of Frank Sinatra. This book is well written with info I'd not read before. Will look forward to the next in the trilogy. Thanks to James Kaplan.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    A slow read in spots...

    ...but overall this is a fabulous book. I can't wait for Part 2. James Kaplan is a GREAT writer. I read this as a library e-book, and was a little sorry about that because you cannot look up words in the dictionary. And Mr. Kaplan does use some $50 words. Again, I highly recommend this and since I liked it so much I will probably by the Nook-book version as soon as it comes out.

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  • Posted November 9, 2010

    outrageous price

    can't imagine any reason for such an unreasonable price.

    0 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2010

    Price

    Why is the price of this NOOKbook over $7.00 more than the hardcover edition?

    0 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 5, 2011

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    Posted December 21, 2010

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    Posted December 12, 2010

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    Posted December 29, 2010

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