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In 2010's Frank: The Voice, James Kaplan, in rich, distinctive, compulsively readable prose, told the story of Frank Sinatra's meteoric rise to fame, subsequent failures, and reinvention as a star of live performance and screen. The story of "Ol' Blue Eyes" continues with Sinatra: The Chairman, picking up the day after he claimed his Academy Award in 1954 and had reestablished himself as the top recording artist. Sinatra's life post-Oscar was astonishing in scope and achievement and, occasionally, scandal, including immortal recordings almost too numerous to count, affairs ditto, many memorable films (and more than a few stinkers), Rat Pack hijinks that mesmerized the world with their air of masculine privilege, and an intimate involvement at the intersection of politics and organized crime that continues to shock and astound with its hubris. James Kaplan has orchestrated the wildly disparate aspects of Frank Sinatra's life and character into an American epic--a towering achievement in biography of a stature befitting its subject.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-09-21
- Reviewer: Staff
The great singer-actor contains multitudes in this vast, engrossing biography of Frank Sinatras mature years. Completing his bestselling Frank: The Voice, Kaplan follows the 17-year span from Sinatras Oscar-winning role in 1954s From Here to Eternity to his (first) retirement in 1971, a period when he was a commanding Hollywood star and the acknowledged master of the American songbook. Kaplan delves with gusto into Sinatras seething contradictions: swagger and insecurity; sensitivity and callousness; deep loneliness amid a perpetual throng of cronies; an omnivorous sexual appetite that encompassed polar opposites Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow; lordly generosity combined with tyrannical control and a violent compulsion to push people around (most memorably when, while dressed as an Native American woman at a benefit event, he got in a shoving match with a cowboy-costumed John Wayne and then, to work off his anger, had a bodyguard beat up a parking attendant). Kaplans sympathetic but unflinching narrative revels in the entertainers scandalous private life while offering rapt, insightful appreciations of his sublime recording and stage performances. It situates him and his Rat Pack at the Vegas headquarters of a postwar American culture that yoked mobsters and prostitutes to Kennedys and other luminaries. His Sinatra is often appalling, sometimes inspiring, and always a fascinating icon of an energetic, resonant, yet doomed style of masculinity. Photos. (Oct.)