I love FS and his music, but I am not a blind teenage hero worshipper. Part of the reason I'm a big, big, big FS fan is because he was REAL and even if he made a slew of the best recordings ever (period!) you can learn a lot about someone by getting the whole picture which includes some troublesome aspects of Sinatra's personality. If you consider the truly creative giants in all arts, many of them were not exactly what you would call well-adapted. Many of them are drug users or suicides at some point. Sinatra lived his art and his life like a man possessed, as I think Clarke mentions, and it may have been the man's sometimes "foolish fury" that made him the unequivocal entertainer of the century (to use the recordmakers' term.) A lot of the people FS ran into trouble with weren't all that righteous (the journalists, for example), and I think Clarke tells it like it was. If FS picked some bad fights, so be it; I have picked some bad fights in my life because I have one thing in common with Sinatra (definitely not my lousy voice!): I'm human and I'm flawed.
I don't buy inane music biographies that paint useless, glowing pictures of musicians. Such books are a complete waste of money.
This book is fascinating precisely because it frames Sinatra's music and life in terms of his era and his background -- the Dorsey era isn't just a nice bit of trivia, it really shaped FS' career for decades and it is astounding to look at how many Dorsey tunes were remade during the Columbia and Capitol years (and later!) It is immensely rewarding to listen to songs evolve from boyish ballads to swinging numbers over the years; American popular music came of age through Sinatra's microphone, and I think a careful reading of Clark brings this home -- be sure to have the recordings handy to play in the background while you read. His movies? I tend to like them more than I should because FS is in them, but seriously how many times can you watch the Rat Pack movies and enjoy them (once is pushing it...).
For what it's worth, I have found most of Mr. Clarke's comments regarding albums to be spot on. I own nearly 50 FS albums, and when I think about the ones I play most often they tend to coincide with albums Clarke portrays favorably.
Donald C.Clarke points out the contradicitons (which need not be outlined here; everybody knows what they were) in Frank Sinatra's life. wHILW esp.after Nancy Sinatra and Kitty kelley's respective books, in 1986 and WIll Friedwald's amusign and infomrative book a few years back it may seem redundant for ANOTEHR 'Old Blue eyes book, this is unqiue.