38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
This is a marvelously entertaining full throated biography,
This review is from: Frank: The Voice (Hardcover)
This is a wonderfully written, marvelously entertaining full throated biography of Frank Sinatra. If for a moment you think reading 700 pages is more than you want to take on with such a flawed and hedonistic personality as Sinatra I can state categorically that you will turn the pages fast and find every one filled with entertaining insights. Kaplan's writing is conversationalist offering a style that is effortless, breezy, and always fun. (I had previously read Kaplan's fun book DEAN AND ME which he co-wrote with Jerry Lewis.) To my surprise this book only covers Sinatra through his wining of the Academy Award in 1954. There is no mention of a future volume 2 but it's hard to believe it's not in the works. Kaplan has a unique ability to explain both the business side and creative side of Sinatra's music (and of many other artist of the era). But its Sinatra's personal life, value judgments, relationships and self doubt and huge personal drive of ambition that takes center stage. He almost dies at birth and he is born to a strong willed Mother which are events that seem to overwhelm his self worth. Insecure, he trusts no one and maintains relationship so long as they enhance his ambition. The story of Sinatra's meeting and dysfunctional marriage to Ava Gardner is incredible. Gardner appears to have been a woman of extremely good looks, with insatiable sexual appetites, and like Sinatra himself so insecure that she could not control her self destructive impulses. Sinatra is her match in dysfunction as he pines and chases her across the globe. You begin to wonder how they had the energy to live such lives. Kaplan lays out the moves that Sinatra made that earned him is professional success, insights into his relationships with the mob, his huge career tailspin and ultimate career turnaround. Sinatra's story is one of career redemption coupled with the high personal cost of pure ambition (not to mention unchecked hedonist empowerment). Kaplan's narrative lays it all out, the man's flaws, his personality, and his talent born of genius. At the end you may not like Sinatra but you will be pulled in by the charisma of his energy, his genius and how success is a brother of ambition. I think this is perhaps the best entertainment biography I have ever read although I really enjoyed DAVID LEAN, a biography by Kevin Brownlow and SHOWMAN, The life of David O. Selznick by David Thomson. If you have the slightest interest in Sinatra, Big Bands, the 1940 and 1950s, and/or dysfunctional hedonist behavior I'm sure you will enjoy Kaplan's splendid book.