Sinatra: The Chairman by James Kaplan

This is the rodent-killer 2nd volume in this series, clocking in just shy of 1000 pages in print.  In audio, it’s around 40 hours.  It’s worth every bit of it.

This book is one part biography, one part social commentary, and one part analysis and insightful critique of Sinatra’s works in music, TV, and film.

The repeated meme for Sinatra’s love life goes all the way back to his mother, discussed in the previous volume of this biography.  As a result of his domineering mother, Sinatra is attracted to women who know what they want and know how to get it.  He actively pursues those classic beauties who prove to be more than his match in brains and ambition.  And then things fall apart when it turns out that they won’t submit his demand that their careers stop so that they might worship at the altar of Frank.  They get fed up, he gets bored, and things disintegrate.  And most of those encounters are fueled by the memory of the one he wants most: Ava Gardner.  It’s a destructive cycle that fuels many of his famous torch songs.

Beyond the love life, this book goes into his family, friends, associates, politics, recording and studio careers, overblown connections with the mafia, the Rat Pack, and so much more.  Together with the previous volume, Frank: The Voice, it’s a fantastically complete look inside the complex world of drama and turmoil that is Frank Sinatra.

When dealing with the cast of characters herein, it’s inevitable that certain things will be quoted.  Some of these are racially-charged, some of these are simply foul-mouthed.  I mention it for those to whom such things are important.

5 stars


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