If you’re going to write a book about someone the world knows as intimately as Frank Sinatra, you need to be good at bringing all the stories to life, even the ones we’ve heard before, and James Kaplan excels in this regard with his newest tome, “Sinatra: The Chairman.”
The book is essentially part two, picking up where his 2010 offering, “Frank: The Voice,” left off. The two works, which approach 1800 pages together, are for the serious Sinatra fan and are garnering some nice reviews. It seems Kaplan wanted to present the go-to Encyclopedia on Sinatra’s life, giving his readership a sort of compendium of all the other works about Ol’ Blue Eyes out there, all wrapped in a pretty package.
What I like about this book is that it serves as a refresher from many stories already heard, but expands upon the particular subject. For instance, if you’re reading about a suicide attempt over Ava Gardner or his heartfelt caring for Marilyn Monroe, you’ll also learn about many, many other passionate loves and just how deeply he felt each emotional situation.
Passion seems to be a word that could sum up his life and it wasn’t all about his love life. It also describes his friendships, his politics, his activism, and, most importantly, his work. He was hardly all play; he worked diligently to become the man the world has come to idolize, having to rebirth himself on more than one occasion – from singer to actor then dancer, to Vegas icon. There didn’t seem to be anything he couldn’t do.
I like learning about Frank and what made him tick and while I certainly could never limit myself to one or two books on him, having this pair on your shelf could make you an instant expert.