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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author James Kaplan redefines Frank Sinatra in a triumphant new biography that includes many rarely seen photographs.

Frank Sinatra was the best-known entertainer of the 20th century - infinitely charismatic, lionized, and notori­ous in equal measure. But despite his mammoth fame, Sinatra the man has remained an enigma. As Bob Spitz did with the Beatles, Tina Brown for Diana, and Peter Guralnick for Elvis, James Kaplan goes behind the legend and hype to bring alive a force that changed popular culture in fundamental ways.

Sinatra endowed the songs he sang with the explosive conflict of his own personality. He also made the very act of listening to pop music a more personal experience than it had ever been. In Frank: The Voice, Kaplan reveals how he did it, bringing deeper insight than ever before to the complex psyche and tur­bulent life behind that incomparable vocal instrument.

We relive the years 1915 to 1954 in glistening detail, experiencing as if for the first time Sinatra’s journey from the streets of Hoboken, his fall from the apex of celebrity, and his Oscar-winning return in From Here to Eternity. Here at last is the biographer who makes the reader feel what it was really like to be Frank Sinatra - as man, as musician, as tortured genius.

©2010 James Kaplan (P)2010 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Fascinating.... For anyone who wants to know what popular culture and celebrity felt like around the middle of the twentieth century, this book is the new bible." (Booklist)
“The answer to 'what is there left to say about Sinatra' is staggeringly answered in James Kaplan's new book. This story has never been told with such incisiveness, care, research and respect. With so many new revelations, you might never really know who Frank Sinatra is until you read this book.” (Michael Feinstein)
“Jim Kaplan’s great gift is his own voice, in peak form—stylish, seductive, and richly resonant—that stands up to Sinatra’s powerful baritone. This is a perceptive, passionate biography of an immense and immensely flawed musical figure whose life and legend continue to fascinate.” (Bob Spitz, author of The Beatles)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Brad
  • APO, AE, United States
  • 12-12-10

Both fascinating and tedious

Rob Shapiro is perfect for this book, capturing Kaplan's informal narrative voice exceptionally well, and carrying the listener forward through what at times can be a mind-numbing level of detail about the first 20-some years of Sinatra's career. It's a tribute to Shapiro and Kaplan that one sticks with the book for 20+ hours, as there are passages that follow Sinatra's trail on almost a minute-by-minute detail.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Story of a legend.

I have always enjoyed Sinatra since being introduced to his music by my parents who were raised listening to the crooner but learning about his rise and troubles made me appreciate the man even more. Throughout the story I would break away to listen to some of the songs mentioned, Google a particular photo or watch a movie he was in to embrace the full effect. Great job by Mr Kaplan on "The Voice" and I am now jumping into the second Kaplan book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The authoritative book on Sinatra, Part One...

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Great research and details, great storytelling and structure.

What about Rob Shapiro’s performance did you like?

Shapiro seems interested in making sure the listener understands the book. He DOESN'T sound like he's just trying to get through the recording session to get his check.

Any additional comments?

Top notch, all around.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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good listen

I loved it, it was good information and kept me interested. I recommend the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Ol' Blue Eyes, Part 1

There’s something transcendent in Frank Sinatra’s voice. You can describe it as poetically as you like, but it’s something undefinable that he knew he had, understood what it was, and honed for maximum benefit. With that skill, combined with an intimate understanding of the songs he sang, he would move anyone to joy or to tears. He could make you feel loneliness or desperation or longing. In the days of the Big Bands, Sinatra was the vocalist who caused the ladies to abandon their guys on the dance floor and gather around the microphone. He would go on to record over 1300 tracks and leave a legacy as one of the greatest vocalists of the 20th century, if not (arguably) of all time.

This book looks into the life of the man behind the voice, a peek behind the curtain at where all of that emotion comes from, how he learned to harness it, and what happened when it was unleashed without direction. Straight from Sinatra's own words, we learn that he was only ever afraid of two people: his mother and Tommy Dorsey. From humble beginnings in a world of toughs, Sinatra's rise, fall, and roller coaster ride through to 1959 is chronicled here in a voice reminiscent of Frank's own speech patterns. Between Kaplan's writing and Shapiro's narration, this is about as close to perfection as a biography can get in terms of style and tone.

The downside is that, as I mentioned, this book does stop abruptly in 1959. The good news is that in a couple of months, the sequel will arrive, Sinatra: The Chairman. It will most definitely be on my reading list as soon as it drops.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jack
  • Gwynedd Valley, PA, United States
  • 03-18-12

Very thorough but incomplete

What did you love best about Frank: The Voice?

Narrator did an excellent job

What about Rob Shapiro’s performance did you like?

Great

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Frank Sinatra, Part 1

Any additional comments?

Dissapointed that the book did not cover his full life story

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Ol'Blue Eyes

I love learning new things about Frankie! I wish I lived in his time! Thanks

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An exhaustive bio.

Kaplan has done a superb job. Far too gossipy. Far too much about Ava Gardner. But overall fine writing. Great read.

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Fantastic!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! It is the best and most entertaining biography I've ever read.

What other book might you compare Frank: The Voice to and why?

None.

Which character – as performed by Rob Shapiro – was your favorite?

Sinatra.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Interesting, entertaining, and well narrated. It made me laugh in places. It made me feel for Sinatra. Made me sympathetic to Nancy, and angry with Ava.

Any additional comments?

The book left no stone unturned in terms of presenting the early life, struggles, and love of Sinatra.

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  • John
  • Lowell, MA, United States
  • 10-05-16

Great read.

Any additional comments?

This is an exhaustive and thorough examination of Sinatra's early life, with great detail and written with an awareness of the singer's art. Only the mispronunciation of the songwriter Jule Styne's name was bothersome. This was corrected in the second volume.