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Why Sinatra Matters

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  380 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In this unique homage to an American icon, journalist and award-winning author Pete Hamill evokes the essence of Sinatra--examining his art and his legend from the inside, as only a friend of many years could do. Shaped by Prohibition, the Depression, and war, Francis Albert Sinatra became the troubadour of urban loneliness. With his songs, he enabled millions of others to ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 14th 2003 by Back Bay Books (first published October 1st 1998)
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Christopher Rodriguez
Let me first say that I love Sinatra and I don't know much about history.

With that said, I loved reading about his life through the perspective of Pete Hamill. He writes in a way that focuses on the romance of FS's life. The challenge of an Italian singer coming out of the depression and as an American that was not able to serve but wished he could, even if only to prove to the other men in his generation that he was one of them. Or as FS might say, dem. The struggle of a man in love with the n
...more
Lucero Arebalos
I'll first write out what I liked about the book. I liked the history. It was a bit of a more in-depth history lesson told by people who were there. Mr. Hamill tries to explain through historical reasons why Frank Sinatra was the way he was. Why he was angry, why he was connected to the mob at one point, and so on and so on.

Now, what I did not like about the book (and what ruined it for me really) was that Mr. Hamill placed Frank Sinatra on such a high pedestal. He wrote about him in such a way
...more
Michael Barcas
This book should be in the library of any Sinatraphile. Not gossipy; in the sense, not a white coat's assessment of Sinatra's psyche. A portrait of a man alone-had it all, lose it, and gaining it with massive success + revenge. Pure class. Good with Tennessee Whiskey and LPs (Columbia, Capitol, Reprise, or bootlegs.)

I read this when I was college ('08) FEB. 14, 2014. [There's a heartbreak) Instead of shotgun (kill) or jumping off Sta. Cruz Bridge (Manila), I chose insomniac reading and listened
...more
Carla
This was a wonderful book, for a die-hard Sinatra fan like me. Anyone who has an interest in either music or history of the Prohibition/Depression/Jazz eras, or insight into immigration to the United States from Europe in the late 1800s/early 1900s would also enjoy it. It's not a "biography" in the classic sense, but rather the personal recollections of someone who knew and liked him. I especially enjoyed the section toward the end of the book where the author analyzes Sinatra's music; as a sing ...more
Rich
Not only a history of one of the great singers of our time, but also some fascinating heritage information about Italian immigrants in NYC and NJ. All around fascinating...
Royal Dun
This was the second time i read Pete Hamill's tribute to Sinatra. In the decade since my first reading, age has enhanced my appreciation for the people and events of my life. I grew up in the 50's and 60's and Sinatra was in his comeback. I fondly remember the Sinatra's music, acting, and comedy buts with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Joey Bishop during the Rat-Pack era. Hamill's book gave me a great insight into the early life and career of Old Blue Eyes.

Hamill writes from his personal asso
...more
Richard Wheeler
In many ways this is a fine remembrance. But it focuses so heavily on the milieu in which Sinatra grew up, and the impact of all these prejudices and traditions, that one might assume that Frank Sinatra himself played only a minimal role in what he eventually became, the finest male vocalist the nation has ever had. What is almost absent here is the way Sinatra consciously shaped his life, employing his own independent will and genius, making choices that led to greatness. This trendy environmen ...more
Garrett Cash
I read this a long time ago, I remember thinking it was interesting but not being crazy about Hamill's tone.
Pmacke
any day is a little better with a sinatra song or anecdote ... this is a breezy review of why sinatra will always be cool, and the main reason? the music, over 1300 recordings according to hamill ... another interesting note hamill makes is that sinatra is one of the very rare examples of an entertainer/icon, that first appealed almost exclusively to women, but then became super relevant and iconic to men ... you need to spend a lonely night with frank
Kay
A sweet little book about Sinatra's impact on both music and the italian American experience in the early and middle parts of the 20th century. Since I have always been a huge fan of the Chairman of the board and have seen many of his movies, I knew most of the songs and movies tha Hamill described. I finished this by flashlight since we have no power so I could not get out my collection of Sinatra CDs but I will listen to some soon.
Richard Stueber
A slender volume telling the story of Frank Sinatra and why he was important not only to music but also to the flow of American culture and life. There are lots of other books about Frank, but this would be a good place to start. The songs from "In the Wee Small Hours" said that in spite of loss, abandonment, defeat - you could get through the night. And Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week.
Carter
A beautiful little elegy written shortly after Sinatra's death. Hamill is a great writer, a great New Yorker, and the book is especially sharp in explaining the social context from which Frank emerged -- how he was shaped, and how he shaped the lives and times of the first generation American-born urban youth, and the impact of world wars, the Red Scare on his career and personal life.
Cathy
This was an interesting book about how Sinatra's Italian ancestory, timing (the big band era), his musicianship, and his personal life made such a contribution to the era in which he lived and performed. This book about his life is written in a social and political context which creates good reading material!
Jill
The opening, exquisitely written chapter makes it worth it, as Hamill recalls an evening at Frank's table in an after-midnight gathering at a bar, when Frank raised the question: Fitzgerald or Hemingway? And offered his answer. I also appreciated the carefully chosen epigraphs for each section.
Kelly
I've read this several times - I am such a huge fan of Sinatra, and this little book summed up what makes the man so fascinating to me so well that I often refer it to people who want to know why I like him so much.
Simon Sweetman
A sweet-enough summary, given it was written just after Sinatra's passing but the author's a bit pleased with himself for knowinng Frank.
Annie
Read it for the book club at the library.... not sure I
"liked it" but it made me want to listen to his music and watch his movies to see what the guy is talking about.
James
Well, we all know why Sinatra matters, but Pete Hamill presents an eloquent explanation of all the reasons along with some fascinating anecdotes.
Sean Pfile
Really good, fast, easy read on Sinatra. Anyone who is interested in his music, or curious about it, should consider this a "must read".
Emily Dieken
I thought this book was excellent in explaining more about Sinatra. Where he came from, his background growing up and why he was himself.
Julianabadescu
such a great little book...and yes my infatuation with Pete Hamill continues....learned so much and have new impression of Frankie...
Jake
Nice, quick read from the incomparable Pete Hamill about the King of the Hill, A-No. 1, Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra.
Cory
Fun - interesting - I learned alot about Sinatra. If you care about music and/or american history read this book.
Ellie
I can’t read enough by Pete Hamill. After I read this I gave it to Mom, and she loved it just as much.
Audra
a tiny little one sitting read - so well written, of course - Pete Hamill is such a pleasurable read!
TonJe'
A fun easy read for any Sinatra fan!! Some good stories I didn't know about "ol blue eye's".
Tenderine


The book is like a history lesson with Frank Sinatra in the center of it all.
Cindy
I love Pete Hamill's writing style - clear as a bell . From a different era .
Theresa
Love to read anything on Frank Sinatra.
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Pete Hamill is a novelist, essayist and journalist whose career has endured for more than forty years. He was born in Brooklyn, N. Y. in 1935, the oldest of seven children of immigrants from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He attended Catholic schools as a child. He left school at 16 to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheetmetal worker, and then went on to the United States Navy. While serving in t ...more
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