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January/February 2006

Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan
Sinatra: The Life

If you want in-depth analysis of Frank Sinatra's musical legacy, turn to Will Friedwald's meticulously detailed Sinatra! The Song Is You. If you want the sunshine version of Ol' Blue Eyes, choose either of eldest daughter Nancy's sugar-coated tomes--Frank Sinatra: My Father and Frank Sinatra: An American Legend--or younger daughter Tina's slightly less rose-colored My Father's Daughter. If it's strictly the salacious side of his turbulent life that interests you, there's always Kitty Kelley's trash compactor special, His Way. And if it's a brief but riveting analysis of Sinatra's importance as a cultural icon, turn to Pete Hamill's slim, immaculate Why Sinatra Matters. But if it's a well-balanced, well-written account of one of the 20th-century's most powerful, troubled and talented figures, you be hard-pressed to do better than this thorough, though by no means exhaustive, survey by the same husband-and-wife team that crafted the bestselling Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe.

The emphasis here leans much more heavily toward Sinatra's mob connections, his legendary moodiness and his indefatigable penchant for womanizing than on his films or recordings but, unlike many of the dozens of Sinatra books that now fill library shelves, everything is taken with a welcome grain of salt.

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