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Frank: The Voice Paperback – November 1, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 216 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Peter Bogdanovich Reviews Frank: The Voice

Peter Bogdanovich is an acclaimed director, producer, writer, actor, film critic, and author. He has directed over 25 feature films, including international award winners The Last Picture Show, What’s Up, Doc?, and Paper Moon. Read his review of Frank: The Voice:

There has never been a book of this kind or quality about Frank Sinatra. Like the formidable novelist he is, James Kaplan has somehow managed to get inside the man and the legend, to such a degree that you feel you are living Sinatra’s life with him, almost day by day. Yet it is the fastest read.

From his violent, deforming, traumatic birth, through his Hoboken childhood with a super-dominating mother and a weak father, through the heady, unprecedented bobby-sox years, his young marriage to the virtually saint-like Nancy, their three kids, his numerous--almost serial--infidelities, through the tumultuous affair with Ava Gardner--detailed as never before--through the much-frowned-on divorce, the suicide attempts, rivetingly onward through the near total collapse of his career, and right up through the miraculous comeback with the Oscar for From Here to Eternity,this book tells it all with the freshness of the first time, in the most engrossing and evocative prose. There is compassion and candor, and a profound sense of real lives being lived.

Sinatra the musician has never been taken as seriously or chronicled with such sensitivity and depth; it has never been as clear how very much the singer had to do with all aspects of his recordings and performances. This is a warts-and-all work, with a staggering amount of research to back everything up, revealing Nancy Sr. in all her grace, and Frank in all his moods, but it is never salacious or malicious, only honest, forthright and civilized. Nobody can be prepared for the life of a phenomenon--which Sinatra was--the first show business phenomenon of the 20th century, long before Elvis or the Beatles, and far more complicated and multi-layered. Being very human, Frank did the best he could with it all, and James Kaplan has done a magnificently resonant chronicle of the first half of an incredible journey. It leaves you hungering for the second volume!

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767924231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767924238
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This is a unique study of Frank Sinatra. The author, James Kaplan, begins with Frank's upbringing in New Jersey and tells of the lifelong influence of his dominating mother, Dolly. Frank was loved and abused at the same time. Dolly would treat him as a little prince and because of her political connections and powerful personality would open doors for him. At the same time, she would physically and psychologically bully him and leave him vulnerable.

The biography unfolds and talks about Frank's young years of becoming a singer. It is filled with figures of the era - musicians, talent agents, gang members, struggling singers, song writers, and other figures fill the pages. The book teems with these figures as the 1930's and 1940's national politics made them popular. Frank would gravitate towards one figure, for example, Harry James, and then after he felt that he had nothing more to learn, he would choose another person, such as Benny Goodman. All around the talented performers were the temptations of beautiful women, drugs, and alcohol.

Frank vacillated between two types of women represented by his first wife, Nancy, and his second wife, Ava Gardner. While his first wife represented security and steadiness; Ava filled him with passion and obsession. These two women, along with his mother, allow the reader see why Frank was the sensitive, angry, rebellious, and haughty person that he came to be.

The author is also very good at describing how the music was made and how Frank made his unique songs. He describes Frank's watching and imitating other musicians to make his music better. Many times, the author will select a certain song and show how Frank and his orchestra got to its heart and made the song unforgettable.
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Format: 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.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Stayed up until 1 a.m. to finish "Frank: The Voice," James Kaplan's swinging, zinging new biography of Frank Sinatra.

If you've read anything else on the Chairman of the Board -- and there's plenty out there -- forget it. This is it, king of the hill, A-No. 1, top of the heap.

Kaplan writes in a fluid, fun style, irreverent, sweet, sometimes vulgar -- much like its subject. Yes, you get all those naughty details about dalliances and "dames" (as Sinatra would have called them), but Kaplan doesn't forget that Sinatra was a singer, an artist, and the music is why he matters.

It stops in 1954, right after the "From Here to Eternity" triumph and Frankie's split with the stunning Ava Gardner. Here's hoping that means that part two isn't far behind.

Peter Guralnick gave Elvis his due in "Last Train to Memphis" and "Careless Love." Kaplan has done so here for Ol' Blue Eyes. This is the biography he deserves, a ring-a-ding-ding kind of gasser, as alive and kickin' as one of Sinatra's best singles.

If you love The Voice, don't miss this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan is an outstanding biogaphy of Frank Sinatra (1915-98) the Hoboken Italian lad who became a national icon and is, arguably, the greatest singer of the American Songbook!
Frank Sinatra was born to poor first generation Italian parents in December, 1915. His father Mannie was illiterate and worked as a city fireman. His mother Dolly was a brilliant woman who spoke several languages. Dolly was also a midwife, abortionist and dabbled in local politics. She was a tough mother of whom her only child Francis Albert was frightened.
Frank began singing in local clubs in New Jersey and New York marrying the lovely Nancy Barbato. Nancy would have one abortion. The family were Roman Catholic. Nancy was a charming, intelligent woman who was a faithful wife and mother to the children: Nancy, Frank and Tina.
Sinatra hit the jackpot when he moved from being a band singer with Harry James to the prestigious Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Dorsey was tough on Sinatra who soared to fame with several hits in the late 30s and early 40s. Sinatra was 4-F during the
war as the result of a perforated eardrum and emotional instability. Sinatra was called a draft dodger by G.I's and others but was loved by the female bobby soxers who attended his concerts in great numbers.
Kaplan has done his research and is quite adept at analyzing Sinatra's style and song choices. The book is detailed in its account of Sinatra's business dealings with his record companies most notably Columbia and Capitol. Sinatra was a genius as a singer hiring great arrangers such as Nelson Riddle to get the sound the singer most desired. Sinatra's early idol was Bing Crosby.
Sinatra was a complex man who was moody and mecurial. Among the traits evident in this over 700 pages tome:
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