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Frank: The Voice

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  704 ratings  ·  114 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, Ti...more
ebook, 688 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2010)
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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...more
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
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...more
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,...more
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...more
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...more
Carl Rollyson

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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Erik Simon
I am such a sucker for geniuses, and Frank certainly was that. Not to mention a first-rate ass hole, but since I was never invited to his house for dinner, that part doesn't bother me. It is difficult for me to imagine how a biography on him could be better than this one, though it does end just after he won his Oscar for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (not long after his career, amazingly enough, seemed to be dead), so there is more to tell, and word is Kaplan is working on that more to tell, though I w...more
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
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.
Alex Robinson
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.
Don't pay too much attention to my 3 stars. I really liked this book! In particular, the descriptions of the music - the sessions, the songs, the arrangements, the musicians, the Voice! - are fabulous (or as Frank would say, "marvelous"), written by and for a real music lover, full of insight and wonder. The portrait of Frank Sinatra as an artist is excellent.
But I have to agree with the reviewers who complain that the book has too much of the ups and downs with Ava Gardner (hundreds of painful...more
The problem with "celebrity" biographies is that one begins such books with curiosity over certain aspects of their life, but then has to wade through endless detail of things one has little or no interest in.

The opening section, detailing his youth in Hoboken, NJ, was fascinating, as were sections dealing with his work in one of my favorite films, "From Here to Eternity." I got more than a bit bogged down reading about his many short and long affairs, particularly the tempestuous romance/marria...more
Ernest Noel
Kaplan does a brilliant job in this book by suggesting how the way Sinatra sang the song, grew out of the life of an artist every bit as confounding and conflicted as his era — a man by turns generous, attentive decent, then ugly, violently abusive to the point of cruelty. His parents kept a saloon in Hoboken, N.J., called Marty O'Brien's, which was his father's nom de guerre in the ring during his bantamweight career. He appears to have exercised little influence over his son; not so his mothe...more
Surprise - the book ends, 700+ pages later... in 1954.
First of all, this is a great Bio of Sinatra, even handed, interesting and a page-turner. However, I can't help but think the book is mis-titled, as it takes the reader only up through Age 39.... Surely there's more to know of "The Voice" after that? After all, he died in 1998. It seems more like the title could have been "Sinatra and Ava - roots of an epic romance", as the author seems to build to Sinatra's relationship with Ava Gardner, th...more
I mostly enjoyed reading this book.
When I was a teenager Frank Sinatra was not someone I would listen to on a regular basis.
As I aged I began to notice what a terrific singer he could be on a number of his songs.
Of course I had heard some stories about his behavior, especially from friends who lived
in Los Angeles.

I said; "mostly enjoyed this book" because James Kaplan is one of those authors who repeats
dialogue in the book as if it were actually said. It makes for an interesting account of many...more
James Kaplan covers Frank Sinatra from his birth in 1915 to his Academy Award in 1954. Much of the research is from other published biographies (of which there are many) but, this is not meant to be a documentary biography. These 700+ riveting pages are meant to develop the complex personality and character of Frank Sinatra. The style of Kaplan's prose fits his subject. It wouldn't work for a bio of Lincoln or Pavarotti, but it suits Sinatra to a tee.

Besides an interpretive look at the familiar...more
Book: Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan.

Kaplan’s purpose in writing this book is to inform his audience on who Frank Sinatra really was. True, to many, he was nothing but an artist with an ego. To others, he was a man with a vision. Frank: The Voice describes Frank Sinatra’s life in great depth. It is not only a biography on the man himself, but also an 800-page portrait of how his experiences shaped him. It is surprising to find out how little the common man knows about Frank Sinatra. His voice...more
All I could think, as I got to the end of this great big doorstop of a book is, "Now I want to know what happened next!" This wonderful biography follows Frank Sinatra from birth up until his winning the Academy Award for From Here to Eternity in 1954. It was a very interesting read for me, a huge Sinatra fan, but I think it would hold interest for even a casual fan. Frank was like that. Provocative, complex, at times not the nicest man in the world. But fascinating.

From his over-bearing abusiv...more
Everton Patterson
Frank Sinatra's fascinating life story, very well-told. The author has a conversational, almost noir-ish, style that suits Sinatra's story to a t. The book covers Sinatra's life from birth to the day that he wins the Academy Award for his performance in From Here To Eternity in 1954, marking his comeback after several years of his career being in a slump subsequent to his first burst of stardom, as "The Voice", in the early 1940s. He is not yet 40 years old at the book's end, and it is pre-rat p...more
Let me warn you that this 700+ page tome stops at 1954. There is no volume 2. There is no printing error. In the life of Frank Sinatra, the book comes to an abrupt halt at 1954 when he won the Oscar for his performance in From Here to Eternity (1953). 1954 is a pinnacle year for Frank Sinatra. After having a tremendous singing career and some nice roles in a few key films, Sinatra's career was in a major slump. Rock 'n Roll was making waves and girls stopped swooning over Frank Sinatra and start...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Veteran writer James Kaplan knows what goes into a life on the page. He's a good and capable biographer, and critics generally give Frank: The Voice high marks for his ability to connect the chaotic, heartbreaking, and at times violent life of the artist with the unique singing style that made him famous. Some reviewers, however, wonder whether another biography -- despite Kaplan's gritty, point-of-view perspective and a photo insert that contains several rare snaps -- adds much to the already c...more
Very well written, and very interesting. The drawback, as others have pointed out, is that despite being 700 pages, it's not a comprehensive biography. It ends with his winning the oscar and the dissolution of his marriage to Ava Gardner.

Others mentioned this in reviews, but I was somehow expecting at least a fast summary of what happened afterwards. Not sure how a "biography" leaves out completely two marriages and almost 40 years of a persons life.

Frank Sinatra's childhood (unbeknownst to me) was one of extremes - pulled from the womb with forceps that scarred his left ear, jaw, and cheeks, he was brought up as an only child, both coddled and berated, teased and praised. Similarly, as he became famous singing among big bands, on his own, and being in movies, he became involved in love affairs, organized crime, bad critiques and editorials, and breach of promise with his bevy of assistants and yes-men (the telling of it was interesting som...more
Of all the bios I have read about Frank Sinatra, The Voice by James Kaplan is my favorite. I consider it the definitive biography even though it ends when Sinatra has his comeback with his role in From Here To Eternity. Not to worry. Book #2 is coming though no date has been announced.
This book is honest, revealing, objective and so readable. It is painstakingly researched with stories, facts, and interviews never published before. Sinatra is presented in all his enigmatic glory. His generosity...more
Greg Otto
Interesting...and exhausting. This is not a book that will fly by.

I could talk at length about this book, but I think Slate's six-part series on the book is a perfect compliment to the feelings I have on this book:

Being a journalist myself, this book taught me something while giving a look at what life was like for the famous in the early part of the 20th Century. Not a lot has changed in the way the press and public hound celebrities. For all the bluste...more
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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.” 0 likes
“You can’t explain what it is about the sound of Sinatra’s voice,” Feinstein says. “I mean, you can try, and you can get very poetic in describing it. But there is something there that is transcendent, that simply exists in his instrument. He developed it, he honed it, he understood it himself, he knew what he could do, and he used it to his best advantage. That was something that people responded to.” 0 likes
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