From Publishers Weekly
Frank Sinatras death in 1998 spawned a series of books focusing on his remarkable career, which took him from the streets of Hoboken, N.J., to the pinnacle of fame. But Sinatras emergence also signaled an ethnic communitys arrival in mainstream society. To the sons and daughters of millions of Italian immigrants, Sinatras inimitable style epitomized what it meant to be Italian-American in the middle and late 20th century. This collection of essays, written by various historians and critics, takes an extended look at Sinatra through the lens of Italian-American culture, examining the role that Sinatras roots played in his artistic choices, his decision to embrace controversial political causes and the wide-ranging influence he had on American society. The book is something of a mixed bag; some of the essays crackle with detail and insight, while others get bogged down in academic-speak. Nevertheless, the collection as a whole offers a fascinating and complex look at this American icon. We learn about Sinatras early determination to retain his Italian surname and his canny use of his Italian roots to graft a tough image onto his skinny frame. We also see how organized crime associations dogged him for much of his life, and discover a bit about his complex relationship with his immigrant mother. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the way Sinatras own sense of himself as an outsider and his firm belief in loyalty led him to forge lasting friendships with black performers and become a genuine champion of civil rights. Historian Douglas Brinkley asks in the books opening chapter whether we should take Ol Blue Eyes seriously. By the end of this book, readers will agree that we should.
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"Stan Pugliese's Frank Sinatra is a terrific read: the essays offer a range of provocative viewpoints on the universal icon, the American music, and the Italian-American man that was Frank Sinatra. A smart, witty, disturbing, and beautifully choreographed collection."--Regina Barreca, Professor of English, University of Connecticut, and editor of Don't Tell Mama: The Penguin Book of Italian American Writing