During the opening parts of this audio book, I was amazed at how much private information the author (Summers) seemed to have accumulated on the Sinatra Family. As I got further into the book, I began to feel a little “suspect” of the growing amount of intelligence he had gathered. By the time I was halfway through, I had begun to suspect just about anything Summers was saying.
Although the publicity statement on the book labels it as “unfailingly fair-minded,” after finishing the book, I think it’s safe to say that such accolades are seriously off-target. This biography is anything but “fair-minded.”
Summers’ bias trickles through in the first third of the book (he obviously didn’t like Sinatra, the man), then runs more steadily in the book’s middle before it grows to a torrent by the last third.
For instance, Summers obviously approves of Sinatra’s political dalliances with the Roosevelts and the Kennedys, but repels at his alignment with Nixon later in his life. He makes light of Sinatra’s failure to condemn the burglary of Nixon’s doctor’s office by Kennedy henchmen during the 1960 presidential campaign (Frank’s mob connections may have even helped), but is offended by Frank’s cavalier opinion about the Watergate burglary by Nixon henchmen during the 1972 campaign.
And some of Summers’ assertions are just too improbable, such as the allegation that Sinatra turned to forcible rape when he was a mega-star in his 50s.
The book is entertaining, and well written (and narrated), but I would take about 80 percent of it with a grain of salt—maybe even a whole saltshaker. In fact, if just 20 percent of the contents can be called factual, then Sinatra has to be discussed in the same vein as Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, and Jack the Ripper. If I thought the information was more accurate, I would have graded it a star higher.
The subject is interesting enough, albeit delivered with some pretention, but the reader--ugh! He mispronounces many simple words, and sounds like a 12 year old reading to a group of 6 year olds in a terribly condescending tone. He actually made this sound like a children's book instead of the somewhat scholarly work it was intended to be. I couldn't finish it.
This book is mistitled. It should be "Scott and Zelda," with Scott's name first, since the novel is weighted toward his life more than hers. It is informative, but could have been 150 pages shorter and still not suffered, if the author would have omitted the large portions she includes from Zelda's novels. I would like to have seen more documentation and interviews from first person witnesses to their lives, many of whom were still available when the book was written.
The story being told by the author is fairly obvious (especially to those of us who were adults during much of that time and realized the truth), but it's one that must be told.
It's hard to believe that this book was published over 10 years ago, and still the media and the entertainment industry insist on portraying Hoover as a cross-dresser and one who spied capriciously on "law-abiding US citizens."
The violence inherent in the policies of the protestors of the 60s and 70s warranted keeping an eye on them ("burn down the cities; kill members of the establishment, etc." As I said, we who remember those things which were being advocated by these groups, saw no reason why such violence-prone organizations should have went unwatched.)
And the fact that the Attorney General has to approve of wiretaps is something that Hoover's detractors always overlook. Especially since the Attorney General that approved many of the wire taps--even on Martin Luther King's phone--was none other than Bobby Kennedy.
Nor is DeLoach afraid to show Hoover's warts and faults along with his dedication. He points out Hoover's egocentric nature, his petty grudges and his biases.
Sometimes the truth hurts, and the many truths contained in this book, though painful to some cultural icons, needed to see the light of day.
This is truly the first audio book for which I anxiously waited for the end. It was that annoying! The author's "insight" consisted of little else other than having his audience "listen to yourself breathe." This is not a book, per-se, but a live recording of several talks the author gave to audiences. Consequently, he actually has them meditate five or six times throughout the eight-hour recording. Each meditation lasts 10-15 minutes. That means there is anywhere from 50 to 90 minutes of dead air on the recording! What a waste of time! (for an audio book) The author's voice only added to the discomfort. It is high-pitched, whiney, and he has an infuriating habit of sometimes pronoucing one syllable words as two (e.g. learn is ocassionally pronounced as: 'lear-ern' or see is pronounced 'see-ee') This man is certainly no public speaker. Opt instead for Eckard Tolle's "The Power of Now." It is far more insightful, far more interesting and far more meaningful. And Tolle's smooth voice--unlike that of Kornfield's--will not sound like fingernails being drawn across a chalkboard.
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