Review: Sinatra: The Chairman By James Kaplan

Friday, September 25, 2015
Hardcover: 992 pages
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385535392
Sinatra: The Chairman
Just in time for the Chairman's centennial, the endlessly absorbing sequel to James Kaplan's bestselling Frank: The Voice—finally the definitive biography that Frank Sinatra, justly termed "The Entertainer of the Century," deserves and requires. Like Peter Guralnick on Elvis, Kaplan goes behind the legend to give us the man in full, in his many guises and aspects: peerless singer, (sometimes) powerful actor, business mogul, tireless lover, and associate of the powerful and infamous.

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 Frank claimed his Academy Award in 1954 and had reestablished himself as the top recording artist in music. Frank's life post-Oscar was incredibly dense: in between recording albums and singles, he often shot four or five movies a year; did TV show and nightclub appearances; started his own label, Reprise; and juggled his considerable commercial ventures (movie production, the restaurant business, even prizefighter management) alongside his famous and sometimes notorious social activities and commitments.

My Thoughts:

With Frank Sinatra: The Chairman author James Kaplan has proven himself an expert biographer as he presents an in-depth look into not only Frank Sinatra, the singer and actor, but also Frank Sinatra, the man behind the multifaceted talents.  Focusing a great deal on the mid- to late- 1950's, Kaplan reveals a side of Sinatra that many may not be familiar with (at least for this reader anyway).  Behind the talent and fame, Frank Sinatra always felt like the insecure little boy from Hoboken, New Jersey trying to compete with "Big Boys".  It's this insecurity and desire to rise above the rest that ultimately became the driving force behind Sinatra in all aspects of business and life.  During the 1950's, Sinatra often worked on more than one movie at a time while still spending the wee hours of the mornings in a recording studio.  Kaplan's thorough research and knowledge, reveals Sinatra's sense of tenacity where his music was concerned and how he would meticulously work on one arrangement until he achieved that perfect sound.  It was also during this same period that Sinatra struggled with his failing marriage to Ava Gardner which became a source of immense grief.  From the recording studios to Hollywood movie sets, Kaplan opens the door to allow the reader to travel back in time and to rub elbows with some of the biggest names of the period.   Kaplan's writing is not only thorough and well-researched, but one that is also interwoven with an immense amount of integrity unlike previous Sinatra biographers over the years. Although I was rather intimated by this massive 992-page look into the life of Frank Sinatra, this was one of the best biographies I have read in quite some time and one that I would HIGHLY recommend to Sinatra fans, both young and old alike.  FIVE stars!

And, I can't very well talk about Ol' Blue Eyes without sharing one of my all time favorites:

Frank Sinatra: The Chairman is scheduled for release on October 27th in both Hardcover and Kindle.  Both formats are availabe to pre-order now.  And for Sinatra fans on your Christmas list, this is a must!

Dislosure: In accordance with current FTC Guidelines, please let it be known this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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