It was a bold move by the author, and one that certainly sets The Voice apart from the usual Sinatra biographies. Probably the most famous previous Sinatra book was Kitty Kelley’s His Way (1988). The two could not be more different, in fact to even compare them to each other is a bit of a joke. Kelley’s stock in trade is salacious gossip, and there is no question that Sinatra’s life provided plenty of fodder, even without juicing it up. Kaplan does not shy away from this aspect of “Frankie’s” life either, although it is presented in a far less hysterical manner.
The life of Frank Sinatra was many things, but dull was never one of them. The career arc alone is a fascinating story. Reading about the early days when nobody took him seriously, to the “bobby-soxer” era, then his fall from grace serves to humanize the icon. Then there is the dark side. His abandonment of his family for Ava Gardner, the friendships with various Mafiosi and other bits are not pleasant. Topping it off with fabulous wealth which was spent so recklessly that most of the time he was practically bankrupt, and we are presented with one hell of a tale.
Maybe the wildest aspect of all is the fact that Sinatra still had another 50 years to go after he won that Academy Award. Kaplan has done a marvelous job of making this biography a real page-turner. The man was incredibly complex, and The Voice reflects it all. Here’s hoping that Mr. Kaplan decides to write the rest of the story, because he did a hell of a job with part one.