title
BOOKS VI
I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII


NOTE: The vast amount of material published about the Chairman of the Board continued unabated in the new millennium, with books of all stripes dotting the landscape.  More essays, more harshly critical biographies, some excellent photographic albums, a tell-all by a former employee, and a stunning gift book put out by the Sinatra family containing rare reproductions of memorabilia are just a few of the items to be found here.  Six years after his death, there are still two or three major book releases each year devoted to Sinatra - and the trend only seems to be growing.


September In The Rain: The Life Of Nelson Riddle
By Peter J. Levinson;
Billboard Books, 320 p.
Released September 1, 2001

Levinson
 
"Nelson's first recording session with Sinatra took place on April 30, 1953.  ...When Sinatra walked into the studio, he saw a strange figure standing on the podium and asked the visiting Capitol record producer Alan Dell, "Who's that?"  "He's just conducting the band.  We've got the Billy May arrangements," Dell explained.  The first two tunes  they recorded were "South of the Border" and "I Love You," both arranged by Nelson but written in the "slurping saxes" style Billy May had designed for his new band.  ...Since he was so well versed as a ghostwriter, Nelson had no trouble handling the assignment.
...Billy May observed, "It wasn't difficult for Nelson because, ya know, there's only so many things you can do with eight brass and five saxes.  Nelson knew it, and I knew it.  Nelson and I had become good friends.  It was a quick thing for Nelson.  Anyway, he started working for Sinatra, and it turned into a hell of a deal for him."
 [pg. 112]

REVIEW:  Outside of Alex Stordahl, no other arranger can be so closely identified with the sound of Frank Sinatra than Nelson Riddle.  In fact, it can be argued that it was Nelson Riddle who saved Frank's musical career once he had been signed to Capitol Records in the early 1950s.  This illuminating biography traces the many public successes, and chronicles the many private demons which made Nelson Riddle such an enigma to his colleagues.  And while this isn't a Sinatra biography, Frank looms large within its pages, as his and Nelson's fortunes intertwined and their personalities clashed in the studio.  The book reveals Nelson's troubled upbringing, his stint in the Maritime Service Orchestra, his slow rise through the entertainment world, working with talents like Nat King Cole (and recounts how Nelson observed first-hand the racial violence which followed Cole from stage to stage), and describes in detail the somewhat bumpy road that Nelson had to traverse in the opening stages of his working relationship with Sinatra.  The author isn't terribly sympathetic to Frank - he paints a portrait of him that tints him as a martinet in the studio, certain of what he wanted his "new sound" to be, and unafraid of dictating new arrangements to Riddle - even canceling entire sessions if he felt that Riddle hadn't nailed a particular 'feel' in a song.  Levinson points out time and again that Riddle was expected to come up to Sinatra's level of output in each of his works, and that Frank was a determined, exacting artist.  There are lots of personal anecdotes, from session players, recording technicians, and other watchers, and the highs and lows of Nelson's life is laid out with clean, precise prose.  Fans of Frank will find a lot of good stories and information here, and if the persona Levinson lays out isn't all roses, it still lies close to the truth, at least from Nelson Riddle's side of the story.


A Storied Singer: Frank Sinatra As Literary Conceit
By Gilbert L. Gigliotti;
Greenwood Press, 170 p.
Released June 30, 2002

 

"The next closest approximation of Sinatra to the Clapton credo is the one in the introduction of Sinatra at the 1995 Grammy Awards ceremony by Paul "Bono" Hewson, the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, when he declared the singer was "living proof that God was a Catholic" (Vare 214).  While far from "Sinatra is God," the religio-political ramifications of this proof, especially when uttered by an Irishman, probably tend toward a battle cry of some kind, but that is another story.  Nevertheless, while rarely being equated with God, Sinatra's theological and philosophical implications have not been overlooked, and this chapter will discuss a quartet of works and the ways in which their conceptions of "Frank Sinatra" deal with such issues."  [pg. 108]


REVIEW: Essentially a collection of bloated scholarly essays, these heavily annotated papers dig deeply into Sinatra's influence into popular culture.  The author ascribes far too much importance to his own ideas, or at least in believing his writing about Sinatra to be of interest, or has literary merit.  In the left-leaning prologue to this collection, the author waxes verbose about Sinatra's appearance in pop culture fixtures such as syndicated cartoonist Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury" and conversely in Twyla Tharp's 'balletic incarnation' the Sinatra Suite.  Although the Doonsbury strip appeared for only a week, it has long been a battle cry for hacks who point to it as a defining moment in cultural history in regards to Sinatra.  The strip was reprinted in full in Kitty Kelly's biography, and here it's recounted again with delighted glee.  Conversely, the author exhumes Twyla Tharp's ballet as a counter-example of Sinatra's place in culture, which is so obvious that it defies further examination.  The entire book is filled with weighted-down papers such as these: "The Whitmanesque Sinatra Of Sammy Cahn," (for fans of Walt Whitman and Sinatra lyricists) "The Composition Of Celebrity: Sinatra As Text In The Liner Notes of Stan Cornyn," and "The Universal Tongue: Language and Image in Rual Nenez's Sinatra."  These lengthy intellectual pursuits leap through the usual 'compare and contrast' hoops which all of academia must seeming contort to, but for all its sound and fury, it too, ends up signifying nothing.  About as fun as wading through a sheaf of college essays, this book would have been sneered at by the kid from Hoboken, New Jersey, and won't be much fun for any regular Joes either.


Sinatra: An Intimate Collection
By Bob Willoughby;
Weatherhill, Inc., 208 p.
Released November 1, 2002

 

"When I came on the set of From Here To Eternity for Collier's magazine, Frank was hungry for good press.  All the stories I had heard about his hatred for photographers made me cautious when I first met him.  But he was so agreeable and charming, it was hard to believe this could be the same person.
We went outside on the studio lot and had a Coke together, and I felt it was my lucky day.  As it turned out, it was, for I never saw Frank quite as cooperative again.  He was professional always, but easy... well, that's another story.
Here was a Sinatra charming and funny, wearing his hat sideways on his head for the camera, ... giving me that romantic little-boy-lost look so beloved by a generation of fans.  I felt my photographic guardian angel was watching over me that day for sure."
  [pg. 6]


REVIEW:  From 1953 to 1965, Bob Willoughby was assigned to photograph Sinatra for different events.  They first met on the set of From Here To Eternity, but later met up during the filming of The Man With Golden Arm, the recording session for same; his daughter Nancy's high school, where he caught Frank trying to sooth Nancy's onslaught of stage fright; a petulant Sinatra on the recording stage for Can-Can, in Las Vegas for the Rat Pack and the filming of Ocean's 11; and strangely, Willougby was also on hand for Frank & Dean's 1962 appearance on The Judy Garland Show.  The final major photo shoot for Willoughby occurred in 1965, for the filming of Love On The Rocks.  The book itself is a handsome oversize paperback, with thick, glossy paper showing off the color and black and white shots to best effect.  Every photo is laid out chronologically, with small, inconspicuous text boxes accompanying each of the pictures.  Willougby also attends his impressions of the moment - relating memories he has of each shoot: the vague feeling that Sinatra and Kim Novak were becoming more than friends during the shoot of Golden Arm; how Nancy had her doting father wrapped around her finger during their moments together; Frank's change of mood when he sees the score that's been prepared for Can-Can; how Sinatra was tireless and endlessly working or preparing, or playing; and how Frank and Dean always seemed to be in a competition for laughs when they were together.  It's an outsider looking in, with the camera his roving eye.  In that sense, the reader is brought in as the phantom observer - seeing what's on the surface, but not able to penetrate underneath the skin.  Released only days before the similarly-themed book below, this is a fantastic bunch of pictures, and a great book for fans, just don't expect to be much enlightened.


Sinatra: An Intimate Portrait Of A Very Good Year
Photographs by John Do minis, Text by Richard B. Stolley;
Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 144 p.
Released November 5, 2002

 

"Frank Sinatra was a party animal before the term was invented.  He works hard ("I'll do my job and you do yours" is his motto) and carouses hard, sleeping only four or five hours a night.  His off-duty "gasoline" intake (as he calls booze) is prodigious.  It never interferes with his singing but has led to some highly publicized scrapes.  After a fistfight with a Hearst newspaper columnist, he admitted, "I'm known as the Eichmann of song."  Always loyal to friends, usually courteous to strangers, he packs an explosive personality.  As Tommy Dorsey put it: "He's the most fascinating man in the world, but don't stick your hand in the cage."  [pg 34]


REVIEW:  In late 1964 and early 1965 LIFE magazine photographer John Dominis got an unprecedented opportunity to shadow Frank Sinatra around for three months to gather shots for a feature article.  Of the four thousand images which Dominis took, only a small fraction made their way into LIFE, and the rest have languished, most never-before-seen, until this book gathered the best of them here.  One hundred and fifty of them, all in stunning black and white, and printed on good gloss paper, show the behind the scenes Sinatra that most people never saw.  From nighttime parties with an obviously wired Frank having a great time; to a quick shot of him doing a morning shave in the mirror; to Sinatra conferring with Marriage On The Rocks director Jack Donahue while Dean Martin enjoys a cup of joe; to sharing an quick word with Count Basie, or spread out on a table receiving a massage while dressed in nothing but his briefs; to Nancy giving her dad a hug while having an after dinner drink with Yul Brenner - the shots are all revealing of the private Sinatra.  The text is minimal, mostly encapsulating what the photographs already tell, whether it be Sinatra joking around by falling off his chair, or showing devotion while giving his daughter Tina a kiss on the cheek, these are wonderful pictures that the authors wisely let speak for themselves.  A few of the shots have shown up elsewhere, as a stylized imprint on Trilogy, for example; but for the most part, these photographs are new for fans, and show a relaxed, concerned, professional and casual Frank which goes far further in humanizing him than any biography ever could hope to.  Highly recommended for fans.


Sinatra: The Untold Story
By Michael Munn;
Robson Books, 226 p.
Released January 1, 2003

 

"Frank was furious to find himself being interrogated by FBI agents.  They came to him in secrecy and promised him immunity from anything he might say that could incriminate him in any way as far as his associations with the Mafia were concerned.  At this time, Sinatra had nothing more to go on that a well-educated guess about Marilyn's death, but he was not going to start suggesting to federal agents that Sam Giancana might be behind the murder.  The agents left Sinatra with a friendly suggestion that if he should discover anything, the attorney general would welcome his cooperation.  He flew into a rage, furious at having been put in that position - and he suspected Lawford was behind it.  Lawford told me - and Davis confirmed it - that Sinatra confronted him, and he sheepishly admitted that he had suggested that Bobby send agents to question Frank.  ...That was when he told Lawford he would never speak to him again."  [pgs. 125-126]


REVIEW:  I know that there are several folks who don't consider themselves fan of Sinatra's music or films, but who really enjoy wallowing in the mire of his darker side.  I don't pretend to understand it, but I know they're out there.  This book, which is a sloppy, overheated entry in Sinatra's biographical canon, is for them, as it ignores completely his music and film roles, except as they surround the authors narrow-minded focus on Sinatra's mob ties.  Michael Munn puts together an unimaginative retelling of Sinatra's life through the lens of his associations with the mafia.  Recounting how Sinatra grew up in a heavily Italian neighborhood, and how his family often had brushes with the 'law' - his father running trucks for bootleggers during prohibition, and his mother performing abortions for neighborhood girls, Munn asserts that Sinatra's association with Mafia members (eventually leading to his rubbing shoulders with it's hierarchy) began early on, and although some biographers might claim that Sinatra got into show business to escape a life of crime, Munn runs with the theory that Sinatra took it with him.  Of course, he doesn't have much to back that up, especially in the thin content contained in Frank's early successes; Munn breezes through Sinatra's early fame with Dorsey, and his spectacular stardom during the 1940s, with Columbia Records, barely touching on these years.  But as soon as Ava Gardner comes upon the stage, Munn launches into a frenzy of gossip and innuendo, and oddly weaves in a particularly heavy thread involving Marilyn Monroe, with whom Sinatra apparently only had fleeting dalliances with, but here, she becomes a major player, along with the usual line-up of mafiosos, Kennedy's and Rat Packers.  The 'he said - she said' journalism on display here is very messy, and often contradictory, but for fans who love their Sinatra tabloid-style, this will satisfy that craving nicely. 


Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra
By George Jacobs with William Stadhiem;
HarperEntertainment, 288 p.
Released June 1, 2003
 

 
"Mr. S's philosophy was that bad things only happened to good people.  If someone was bad enough, he somehow had a natural immunity to disaster, at least in this lifetime, which is the only one Mr. S could count on.  There was no day of reckoning for the bad guys.  The meek would inherit nothing, and Sam Spiegel and Lew Wasserman would live forever.  Thus it was a terrible shock to Mr. S's system when the baddest guy of all, the guy who had taken all the marbles, his way, was felled by a massive stroke on the golf course in Palm Beach.  It was 1961.  Old Joe would live another eight years, but he would never speak again.  Mr. Ambassador had become a vegetable.  Mr. S found out from Peter Lawford by phone.  He was shocked, as I said, but he wasn't sad.  He was just amazed, for he thought Joe Kennedy was beyond the long arm of God.  [pg. 148]

REVIEW:  George Jacobs served as Frank Sinatra's personal valet for more than thirteen years, and who was fired in 1968, serves up his version of the facts in this foul-mouthed, R-rated book which seems to take more glee in giving graphic descriptions of Sinatra's more libidinous appetites than digging too far beneath the surface.  Sorely lacking in corroborative evidence, and leaning heavily on his own opinions, this book will carry little weight with discerning readers.  Obviously still stinging from being so unceremoniously dumped by 'Mr. S' (as the author chummily calls him repeatedly), but the book thankfully isn't an acid-drenched attack on Sinatra, but a first-person account of his former boss.  Unfortunately, Mr. Jacobs seems to recall only one facet of the years with Sinatra: the sex.  Whether recalling sordid details like a homosexual encounter between two starlets at a party, to recounting how Sinatra felt that sex made him sing better, to discussing private sexual details of various celebrities in graphic detail, Mr. Jacobs apparently never left the age of fourteen, as he recalls such moments in all-too-vivid detail.  On the flyleaf, the author's bio states that George is 'no sycophant', but rather just a 'clear-eyed observer.'  Well, it's pretty clear from this almost non-stop pornographic account, that this 'clear-eyed observer' made it a point to not avert his eyes from private matters.  If Frank had survived long enough to see this book in production, I have no doubt that another multi-million dollar lawsuit would have ensued.  As one-sided in its way as Kitty Kelly's smear job, this portrait of a sex-obsessed Sinatra is a poor portrait of the Chairman of the board and little more than a prostitution of Sinatra's name to sell books.  Not for the weak-stomached or sensitive.  Perfect for sycophants. 


The Cinema of Sinatra: The Actor, On Screen and In Song
by Scott Allen Nollen;
Luminary Press, 364 p.
Released December 2003

 
"The Pride and the Passion is most effective when Kramer uses the 1.66:1 Vista Vision ratio to create sweeping long shots depicting the struggling people against the awesome power of the environment.  As in the best silent cinema, they convey content and meaning without using dialogue.  In fact, Pride is often better when dialogue is kept to a minimum or avoided altogether: Loren is limited by her knowledge of English, Grant's drawing-room demeanor is out of place in dusty Spain and Frank is held back by his faux accent.  And there is very little humor in the script, another aspect that adds to the lagging pace.
...Frank's one truly dramatic moment occurs when Miguel speaks to a huge crowd of Spaniards who have joined their French occupiers at a bullfighting arena...
[pg. 152]

REVIEW:  I can't tell you how pleased I was with this independently published title, one of only a handful of books which tackles the subject of Sinatra as a film actor, and the only one that examines the subject with reverence, knowledge, and technical skill.  Author Scott Nollen draws on formidable resources, from interviews, reviews, press releases, and various articles, tied with his own clear-eyed, fluid writing, to fill this paperback book with loads of information and insight that other, similar books lack.  In the tight preface and introduction with leads off the book, Nollen deftly lays out the reasons for his appreciation of Sinatra the actor, and makes a strong case for a critical re-evaluation of Sinatra's filmography.  Then diving into the films chronologically, Nollen ties together several different aspects of Frank's life, bringing in both personal, musical, professional, and peripheral events that surrounded the making of each film - meshed with insightful criticisms of each film that neatly dissects both the strengths and weaknesses that the film's story, direction, and acting involve.  Behind the scenes squabbles, on-set tensions, high points and low are all put under the microscope, and it's a relief to say that although Nollen is an unabashed fan of Sinatra's films and other work, the writing is neither gushy, nor one-sided, but unremittingly clear-eyed, balanced, and fair.  The sheer amount of detail which the author has gathered is staggering, giving truly comprehensive looks at all the events which make the films what they are: contract negotiations, personality clashes, box-office, reviews, script changes, musical interpolations, and much, much more fill the pages.  And with the print being quite small, there is much more here than the outer heft of the book would warrant.  To my mind, this is the best book on Frank's films out there, and one well worth investigating for a deeper appreciation of Frank's deep and varied film roles. 


Sinatra
by Richard Havers;
Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc., 360 p.
Released September 13, 2004

 

"Frank Sinatra was (unnegotiably, as I see it) the greatest interpretive musician of the 20th century.  By interpretive I mean that he took what others had written or composed, and swept across the country, allowing his vivid personality, his musical genius, his untrained actorial impulse, to spread universal emotions into the longing souls of millions of people. . .

Sinatra's warm decency is there on the records, his very humanness is alive, sparkling with candor. . . all these amazing graces collaborated on well over a thousand recordings, leaving a vital American presence on the waters, the cities, the ashes of mankind.  If you read me as hyperbolic, so be it.  There are few who warrant such outpouring.  Sinatra is two of them. [from the introduction by Jonathan Schwartz, pg. 7]


REVIEW:  The best book on Sinatra ever released - I don't think that's overstating it.  In presentation, in completeness, in even-handedness, in appeal, this book by Richard Havers is monumental not only in what it gives the reader, but how the information is presented.  Dorling Kindersley Publishers, long known to me as a quality publisher of children's titles, has put together with Mr. Havers a mind-bogglingly panoramic overview of the life, career, and works of Frank Sinatra with such loving attention to detail and style that it equals anything that has come before.  Chronologically laid out, the author weaves the genealogy of the Sinatra in its historical context, giving a brief, but thorough history of American immigration at the turn of the century, he follows Sinatra's birth, his youth, his early successes and meteoric rise to fame and eventual legendary status with clear, detailed analysis - not buttering over Sinatra's failures, and not waxing overly rapsodical with his triumphs, but with an even-handedness that belies the difficulty in achieving such a goal.  Woven throughout the text are countless side-bars which help the reader place Sinatra in time: full-pages devoted to the depression, side-bars on popular band singers during Sinatra's early struggles; listings of Sinatra's studio recordings with Harry James, and Tommy Dorsey; notes on artistic rivals and co-workers such as Bing Crosby and Connie Haynes, film reviews, album reviews with full track listings, year-by-year music charts showing Frank's placings, concerts he headlined, tours he made, details about the record companies he signed with, and much, much more.  All of this is accompanied by hundreds of black and white/color scans of sheet music, film posters, record albums, promotional fliers, photographs of all the players, historical photographs of places he worked and stayed, his wives and lovers, the Rat Pack, and again, much more.  There are some omissions, such as Frank's album where he conducted the music Alec Wilder - I can't find a mention of the December 1945 sessions, and only a cursory mention of the All Alone album is given; but in putting together a behemoth edition like this, trying to get it all in is staggering.  What's here is puh-lenty.  I imagine that this book will be daunting to many readers, with its oversize heft making it clumsy to browse through and the busy layout often drawing the eye away from the main text, but it's still a winner - a first-rate job on collecting the many disparate threads of a life into a single, attractive tome.


Frank Sinatra: History, Identity, and Italian American Culture
Edited by Stanislao G. Pugliese;
Palgrave Macmillan, 256 p.
Released October 1, 2004

 
"But to return to the problem of putting his name on a song, the way in which he appropriates these songs, makes them his own by personalizing and eroticizing them, especially those involving the amorous catastrophe, infusing them with the Sinatran tenebroso, an urban and mass-media version of that dark sound that comes from what the poet Garcia Lorca calls the duende.  Although he constantly described himself as a saloon singer, an omnibus category for a singer who can turn a booze ballad as well as bounce a song or even belt an anthem like "New York, New York," he is unique as a torch singer, as a voice that articulates the drama of erotic crisis and the solitude of amorous loss. ...Indeed, the trajectory of his oeuvre provides a complete anatomy of romantic love as it passes from spring to winter."  ["Sinatra, The Name Ending In A Vowel", pg. 161] 

REVIEW:  I find myself shrinking a bit whenever I come across another collection of scholarly essays concerning Frank Sinatra; a genre which is becoming more and more prevalent in the years following his death.  The fear is, that the writers will over-intellectualize what for me has always been a gut reaction - to love Sinatra's talents without knowing exactly why.  And while this book occasionally falls into that trap of reading like a college English assignment, there are also several enlightening papers here, covering an entire gamut of subjects, some of which are guaranteed to interest most fans.    From the introduction, written by Stanislao G. Publiese, which sets for the Sicillian-flavored theme which runs through several pieces (this is about Italian-American culture, after all), to the first section, "History and Politics" which contains four essays which examine Sinatra's interests in Civil, Political, and Social causes, and feature well-known authors such as Leonard Mustazza and Douglas Brinkley; the second section "Identity and Representation" which focuses its sights on Sinatra's acceptance into American culture and society as pop icon, romantic fantasy, and public superstar; and the final section, "A Riff On Italian American Culture," with all-Italian authors waxing prosaic on Sinatra's impact on Italians in America, and how there are perceived, with Rocco Marinaccio, Pellegrino A. D'Acierno, Thomas J. Ferraro, John Gennari, and Joe and Sal Scognamillo covering subjects as diverse as Dolly Sinatra, assimilation, and Sinatra as the 'Urbane Villager.'  Edmund N. Santurri is given the task of providing a coda to this compilation, with the tongue-twisting essay, "Prophet, Padrone, Postmodern Prometheus: Moral Images of Sinatra in Contemporary Culture," which describes Sinatra as an ubermensch (you'll have to look that one up) as it traces Frank's stamp on society.  Better than some collections, this is still somewhat of a chore to wade through, but if you're of a mind to wax intellectual about Mr. S, this is a fine place to begin.


The Sinatra Treasures: Intimate Photos, Mementos, and Music from the Sinatra Family Collection
By Charles Pignone;
Bulfinch Press, 192 p.
Released October 15, 2004

 

"With a fame as magnificent and persuasive as Sinatra's was, it wasn't long before he started to put that charisma on screen.  And for Sinatra, it was a match made in heaven.  When asked if he preferred singing to acting, Sinatra once commented, "I started out as a singer; the acting was in between.  But I'd prefer not to classify or pigeonhole things because there's a lot of acting in my singing, and my singing has helped my acting."  [pg 82]

"When I was nine or ten years old I would sing with the piano roll at my father's bar.  One day I got a nickel for singing, and that's where it all began.  I thought: 'This is the racket to be in.'" [pg. 15]


REVIEW:  A potpourri of reproduced personal mementos, Sinatra Treasures is indeed a treasure-chest for hard-core fans - although in construction it's far too fragile and fragmented for casual purchasers.  Filled with personal photographs from all eras of  Frank's life, from birthday parties to concert appearances, tied together with Charles Pignone's literate (if overly gushy) text, there are scores of reproduced material enclosed.  Included in pull-out pockets are lead sheets for "My Way," memos, personal correspondence from Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, invitations, concert tickets, an official score card for the New York Giants, presidential inauguration invitations (for Kennedy and Reagan), a 1944 radio program script with banter between "The Voice" and comedian Bert Wheeler, autographed fan photos from the 1940s and much, much more.  Also included is an exclusive CD, much like the one included in Nancy Sinatra's An American Legend book, filled with rare interviews, radio shows, reminiscences, and music, most notably a 1945 radio show.  This shotgun blast of odds and ends is all tied together with text written by Sinatra expert and President of the Sinatra Society of America, Pignone, who does a fine job of annotating all the odds and ends included, and summarizing Frank's impact on music, as well as his personal charm.  Two forewords are also included by famous someones: Quincy Jones (who claims that Frank is the one who started the nickname "Q") and his son, Frank Jr.  You won't find any dirt shoveled around here, this is strictly for fans who love Sinatra.  Everything is meticulously reproduced down to the smallest detail, and it's an ideal gift item for the Sinatra lover in your life.


Frank Sinatra
By  John Frayn Turner;
Taylor Trade Publishing, 256 p.
Released October 25, 2004

 
"Sinatra loved John F. Kennedy.  And he had helped him win the U.S. presidency.  On 22 November, the fateful day when Kennedy was assassinated, Sinatra and the others had nearly completed Robin and the Seven Hoods.  He was back in Burbank, California, on one of the very last scenes of the film.  They finished it that day and Sinatra hurried away to Palm Springs.  He saw no one for several days.  Kennedy had been one of his heroes.
But life went on, as it has a habit of doing after even unbearable events like the death of Kennedy.  But America felt diminished in an indefinable way.  There would never be another Kennedy.  Even subsequent revelations about his private life did not change people's feelings much.
Then out of the blue came a Sinatra family crisis as sudden as it was unimaginable..."
  [pg 143]
 

REVIEW:  The author touts this book as not being 'obsessed' with mafia allegations, and that's the honest truth.  Unfortunately, what it is about is nothing short of a complete whitewash of Sinatra's life.  Stripping away any sense of humanity about Frank, and leaving only the bleached shell, this second biography by author John Frayn Turner is just as myopic in its focus as his previous book, serving up a hyper-conservative portrait of Sinatra that is just as skewed in its way as its polar opposite, Kitty Kelly's hatchet-job.  This might have been forgivable if the author had any style or inspiration to offer the reader, but the writing is so trite and cliché'-ridden that's the prose quickly becomes pedantic.  Such sheer, unabashed adulation quickly becomes tiresome, and although I cringe at the thought of reading another mafia/sex-obsessed Sinatra bio, after reading this one-dimensional portrait, I almost want to dive into Bill Adler's book, just for some balance.  Again taking the tack of a straightforward chronology, the author slathers on the superlatives like cake frosting, giving an unrelentingly sweet, gushy history that doesn't simply shy away from the more seedy elements of Frank's life, but adopts a 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil' approach that leaves the narrative so threadbare the author is left to spout homilies like, "New York.  What magic words, even then," and "How about these numbers for sheer songwriting quality? ...it soon becomes clear that the list is endless."  Can't anyone write a balanced biography anymore?  Is this all that's left - the black and white cartoon caricature that Sinatra becomes in this book and countless others?  Mr. Turner may believe he's striking a blow for Sinatra fans everywhere with this anti-biography, but to this reader, it feels more like he's writing after receiving a sharp blow to the head.  Not recommended, even for those readers who like their Sinatra sanitized.

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