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Frank: The Voice

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  1,258 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
Bestselling 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 twentieth 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
Hardcover, 800 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 27, 2010 brian rated it really liked it
from 1955 to 1959 frank sinatra recorded four of the greatest and saddest albums of all time with four of the greatest album covers ever printed. check 'em out:

1955. In the Wee Small Hours:

1957. Where Are You?:

1958. Only the Lonely:

1959. No One Cares:

ranging from the lush & melancholy to the almost unbearably bleak, this is the finest collection of ballads, saloon songs, and torch songs sung by the greatest crooner of all time. (tied with morrissey who, incidentally, considers frank as on
Feb 09, 2011 Harold rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, bio-autobio
This is the first volume of a two parter. It ends just after Sinatra wins an oscar for “From Here to Eternity” and ressurects a stagnant career. Kaplan is still working on the second part. Kaplan apparently took his cue from Gary Giddens’s two parter on Bing Crosby. He alludes to Giddens’s work several times. Frank is well written and thoroughly researched. Probably the best of the four Sinatra bios (I’ve also read several books that pertain more to Sinatra’s music) I’ve read although I read Ear ...more
Brooklyn Tayla
James Kaplan has penned what is one of the most spectacular biographies I've ever read. A rabid Sinatra fan; it was thrilling for me to discover lots of things I hadn't learnt about Ol Blue Eyes :) definitely can't wait to read book 2 :)
Joy H.
Jun 02, 2015 Joy H. rated it liked it
Added 5/1/15. (This book was first published in 2010.)
5/2/15 - I listened to the unabridged audio of this book. It's disappointing to hear the downside of Sinatra's life. I'd rather remember him for all the enjoyment he gave us with his great talent. It seems it's always the first wives of celebrities who get the short end of the stick. Celebrities like Sinatra are subject to too much temptation.

At any rate, I'm reliving the days when the teenagers screamed and swooned when Sinatra sang. The bo
Jan 26, 2016 Kathryn rated it liked it
I read the second book of Kaplan's two-part Sinatra bio first. Having done this, I think if you haven't read either book you should read The Voice first if you want to better appreciate it. Reading Sinatra: The Chairman first, I found I enjoyed this book more because I found this era of Sinatra's life more interesting. In The Voice, there's so much to muddle through and it's not all happy. To me the book didn't really start rolling until he met Ava, and right when it gets to a pivotal moment in ...more
Brian Willis
Nov 07, 2015 Brian Willis rated it it was amazing
As with most other popular culture icons, biographers examine the National Enquirer tabloid style details about Frank, and what is not to like with that approach? Mafia ties, tons of women, excessive drinking, tragedy and triumph and more tragedy and triumph. None truly explore how his talent worked, his psychological motivations and needs, as well as what made the man tick.

This biography is the first to do that. The lurid details are here, especially in the section dealing with Ava Gardner (cra
Sep 29, 2014 Frederick rated it it was amazing
This is a pretty recent book. I think it came out in 2010. It covers Frank Sinatra's life up to the moment of the 1953 Oscar ceremony, when he awaited the verdict on his nomination as Best Supporting Actor for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. (I won't tell you if he won or not.)
Chances are you have an opinion about the man and an opinion about the music. James Kaplan's book goes into great detail about Sinatra's climb.
What I came away with was a sense of how dependent entertainers were on newspaper column
Carl Rollyson
Jul 29, 2012 Carl Rollyson rated it liked it

Frank Sinatra makes good copy. Just ask Kitty Kelley, Pete Hamill and a host of other biographers who have charted the transformation of the small-fry singing sensation from Hoboken, N.J., into an international star. Excuse the hackneyed phrasing, but the style of James Kaplan's ambitious yet pedestrian tome is infectious.

A fresh approach this is not. Although he does add some worthy research to the story, Kaplan relies heavily on the previous Sinatra biographies, while indulging in clichés suc
Nov 27, 2011 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always liked Sinatra's singing but didn't know much of his life beyond the Rat Pack image. I became interested to know more about him after seeing a couple of his films recently, and was intrigued by this book because it looks in detail at his early career, which I knew little about.

It's certainly a dramatic story, telling how the brilliant but troubled singer originally rose to fame as idol of the Bobbysoxers. He then saw his career plummet during his disastrous marriage to Ava Gardner,
Danusha Goska
Jan 10, 2016 Danusha Goska rated it it was amazing
James Kaplan's "Frank: The Voice" offers an intimate portrait of a truly weird human being, a portrait as deep as anything you might read in an Ancient Greek tragedy. Sinatra's life was intertwined with the lives of major entertainment figures like Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Louis B. Mayer, and of course Ava Gardner, as well as Mafiosi, and politicians. This book offers a panoply of life in mid-twentieth-century America.

I'd read two previous Sinatra books: Kitty Kelley's "His Way: The Unauthorize
Barry Hammond
Jul 26, 2016 Barry Hammond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part 1 of a massive two-volume set this compulsively readable Sinatra biography, which has been compared favorably to Peter Guralnick's equally massive tome on Elvis, this volume covers Frank's rise to stardom in the big band swing era, his downward trajectory after the war years when he could barely get a job, and the beginning of his mid-fifties rebirth, when he won an Oscar for the film "From Here To Eternity." James Kaplan presents the full picture: the musical and lyrical genius, the arroga ...more
Jun 30, 2016 Pamela rated it really liked it
Frank: The Voice deals with the first forty years of Frank Sinatra's life, his rise to fame, descent and rise again. This is not the Sinatra of Vegas, although he is in on Vegas from the beginning. It is not the Sinatra of the rat pack. Those people are just postscripts in this book; they are only beginning the spectacular careers that will later make them Frank's running buddies. This is the Frank Sinatra that belongs to the bobbysoxers, the singer of some of the most beautiful American ballads ...more
Greg Kerestan
Jun 10, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it it was amazing
Absolutely one of the best biographies I have ever read, I nonetheless made my way slowly through Kaplan's novelistic, almost voyeuristic portrayal of the complicated song interpreter. Being in possession of the complete works of Sinatra, I decided to listen as I read, pausing in my book to listen to each session, each album, as it came to be. This proved somewhat problematic- Sinatra the legend was born in the 1940s and early 1950s, but the first volume (the book is followed by a sequel, "Sinat ...more
Dec 24, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
This is the best biography, or should I say partial biography of Sinatra that I have read. This account only takes us up to 1953/54 and his Oscar win for From Here to Eternity, and you can be certain that Volume 2 which will likely cover the second half of his extraordinary career is in the works.

I love the work and artistry of Sinatra, the entertainer that I consider the finest singer and lyric interpreter of the American Song book.

I am not so in love with Sinatra, the man.

Kaplan appears to
Jun 26, 2012 GoldGato rated it really liked it
This is really the story of how Frankie became Frank. Whereas other Sinatra tomes go through his entire life or just focus on the music, James Kaplan has pulled the reader into Francis Albert's beginnings up until Ava's goodbye. We get a deepened look at the man who changed song, along with some sweet asides about the songwriters, the conductors, and the loves of The Voice's rise-fall-rise before he took off into the stratosphere.

It all started with Mama Dolly. Abortionist, midwife, neighborhood
JoAnne Pulcino
Finally a powerful and stirring biography about one of the most chronicled men in modern history. Never has Frank Sinatra’s complicated genius been taken as seriously and with such sensitivity.
This is an enthralling account of a true American icon that was the first show business phenomenon of the 20th century. He was, unquestionably, the greatest singer of the American Songbook.
Frank: The Voice chronicles the first four decades of his stunning ride to the pinnacle of success, and his equally st
Jun 12, 2010 Tosh rated it really liked it
Along with Buster Keaton, Marcel Duchamp, Howard Hughes, Duke Ellington, Louise Brooks and Fritz Lang, I think Frank Sinatra is an icon of the 20th Century - or in many ways he is the 20th Century. Famous, but still a mystery, and a man who saw things differently then everyone else. James Kaplan, the biographer, sees him as a genius, and if that is true, then he is a man pretty much made up by his inner personality - which is insecurity, doubt, and pure instinct.

The plus side of the book is that
Aug 17, 2013 J.souza rated it it was ok
One of the biggest problems of this biography, it's -as it says on the front cover- "reads like a romance".

The fact is, that- for me at least- I want facts when I read a biography. That's the whole purpose for me! And the facts in this one are few between all the gossip, reference to other Sinatra's biographies and a lot of romanticized information that NO ONE could ever know, like: "And then, Sinatra thought...", or "Sinatra was alone at home, looked through the window while smoking a cigarette
Michael Barcas
Jul 26, 2015 Michael Barcas rated it really liked it
Should have bought it at a local NBS if not that too much price tag (The hell with it.) This 2015 will be the centennial year (birth) of the crooner. This James Kaplan bio is essential as Alex Gibney's 2-part docu on HBO; "Sinatra is a genuine and tortured artist."
Nov 19, 2010 Knud rated it really liked it
I've read my fair share of Sinatra books. This is one of the better reads, and of course Sinatra is great material to work on. His path from Hoboken to stardom to having everything collapse around him and back to the top is an amazing one no matter who tells it. We are long since past the point where facts and myths merged anyway, so I'm fine with Kaplan now and then telling us how Sinatra feels. He has done a lot of good research and has good endnotes for most of his stories.

"Dean & Me", Ka
Kuriztee Rainbow
Jun 05, 2015 Kuriztee Rainbow rated it liked it
It took me six months to read. Not because of the book, just because of my surroundings.

Good book, reads very easy and "like a romance"

What I liked about this book is that the author not only goes beneath the surface of the life of Frank Sinatra but stays there and sort of stays WITH Frank so that even when it's the bad side of Frank that's being discussed you have patience and understanding. Most bio's on FS give you the story and that's all but the author lets you get to know him before the st
Luke Boyce
Dec 22, 2015 Luke Boyce rated it really liked it
4.5/5 stars, honestly. Totally fascinating biography on Sinatra from his birth to 1954, the night he won his Oscar for "From Here To Eternity." The book is a really easy and captivating read. Kaplan weaves Sinatra's life like a cinematic narrative, many times putting us into a conversation or a moment. I've been a fan of Sinatra's since I was a kid, but never took the time to dig into his life. I was pretty shocked to find out a great many things. His relationship with his mother, the nature of ...more
Oct 14, 2014 thewestchestarian rated it liked it
As usual the mother gets blamed. James Kaplan researches the life of "The Chairman of the Board" with slightly more diligence than the quantum researchers looking for the Higgs Boson. Letters, telegrams, books, interviews, playbills, unpublished reminiscences, police reports, and on and on Kaplan all get quoted as Kaplan delves into the singer/actor's life to a heretofore unfathomable depth. We know what Frank ate (not much apparently), when he slept (most importantly who he was sleeping with) a ...more
Richard Stueber
Jan 12, 2016 Richard Stueber rated it it was amazing
This is Frank Sinatra's story, up to and including his Oscar winning performance in from "Here to Eternity". Because he was the greatest pop singer of the 20th Century (among other things) he deserves a book like this.
Some of the people who had to spend a lot of time with Frank often referred to him as The Monster. I'm not too sure if that was 100% affectionate or not. Frank was a difficult character to be sure. He certainly was difficult to be in love with. And a lot of women were in that categ
D.R. Haney
Despite its considerable length, this compulsively readable biography covers only Frank Sinatra's rise and fall and rise again, concluding as he's on the cusp of his unparalleled ten-year run of cutting one masterful album after another, from In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning to Songs for Swinging Lovers! to No One Cares to September of My Years. It's the story, in other words, of how Sinatra became Sinatra after his early success as a teen idol was wiped out by changing tastes and the bad p ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Herzog rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
If you have an interest in this topic, this book is remarkably well written, researched and mesmerizing. It does not dawdle over his earliest years, but heads straight into his singing career. It quotes extensively from news reports of the times and goes into great detail regarding his romantic life including his wife, Nancy, Marilyn Mitchell, Lana Turner and, of course, Ava Gardner. Like so many musicians, he is an alcoholic and egomaniac, though fascinating. My only quibble with the book, as w ...more
Sep 27, 2014 Chamberlon rated it really liked it
Like most biographies written by an outside author, the text could have benefited with a shorter final draft and it tends to get a bit littered with unnecessary puff and wordiness. But the engaging stories (both hilarious and tragic) are very much worth it for die hard fans and history buffs.
Jul 27, 2014 James rated it did not like it
The worst biography I have ever read and perhaps the worst book I have read. Buried under clichés, blatant stereotypes, crude language, and riddled with inane comments, what was Doubleday thinking. Less than zero, Goodreads needs to establish negative star ratings for books like this.
Nov 24, 2015 Bob rated it it was amazing
A Very Comprehensive, Yet Fast-Paced Biography Of Sinatra From His Childhood Through Winning An Oscar In 1954!

I've read several books about Sinatra over the years but none have been as comprehensive, nor as interesting, nor as fast-paced as Kaplan's Frank: The Voice.

Throughout the book's 800-page length, Kaplan chronicles Sinatra -- the man and his music -- in such a style that I felt that I was right alongside Frank as he experienced all the "ups and downs" in his life (of which there were man
Alex Robinson
Aug 18, 2011 Alex Robinson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, bio
It's very easy to reduce Sinatra to a Piscopo-esque caricature but Kaplan does a great job showing his subtler sides. I was disappointed that this one only covered up to 1953. Hopefully the author is hard at work on volume 2.
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James Kaplan is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose essays, reviews, and profiles have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and New York. He coauthored John McEnroes autobiography, You Cannot Be Serious, a number-one New York Times bestseller, and coauthored the bestselling Dean and Me with Jerry Lewis. He lives in Westchester, New York, with his wife a ...more
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“One cool morning—a rainstorm had swept through the night before; now the City of Angels sparkled like Eden itself—he was walking between soundstages in Culver City, carrying a cardboard cup of coffee, nodding to this glorious creature (dressed as a harem girl), then that glorious creature (a cowgirl), then that glorious creature (a secretary?)—they all smiled at him—when he ran into, of all people, an old pal of his from the Major Bowes days, a red-haired pianist who’d bounced around the Midwest in the 1930s, Lyle Henderson (Crosby would soon nickname him Skitch). Henderson was strolling with a creature much more glorious, if possible, than the three Sinatra had just encountered. She was tall, dark haired, with sleepy green eyes, killer cheekbones, and absurdly lush lips, lips he couldn’t stop staring at. Frankie! Henderson said, as they shook hands. His old chum was doing all right these days. Sinatra smiled, not at Henderson. The glorious creature smiled back bashfully, but with a teasing hint of directness in her dark eyes. The pianist—he was doing rehearsal duty at the studio—then got to say the six words that someone had to say, sometime, but that he and he alone got to say for the first time in history on this sparkling morning: Frank Sinatra, this is Ava Gardner.” 2 likes
“I’m a Fool” may not be a great song, but Sinatra’s shattering performance of it transcends the material. His emotion is so naked that we’re at once embarrassed and compelled: we literally feel for him.” 2 likes
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