by Charles Pignone
Thames & Hudson
2015, 288 pages, 11.2 x 13.9 x 1.3 inches
Sinatra 100 encapsulates the legendary performer's life through text and previously unseen photographs from the family archives as well as classic images from various photo shoots. After forewords by two friends who knew him best, Tony Bennet and Steve Wyn, as well as an introduction by book author Charles Pignone, the book is broken into three long sections: The Voice 1915-1952, Chairman Of The Board 1953-1972, and Ol' Blue Eyes 1973-1998. That leads readers into afterward sections by various family members and other items of interest.
Frank Sinatra, the man who would be known as "The Voice," was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on December 12, 1915. Singing in his Dad's bar led to a lifetime in music. The pages of that first section detail in photographs and text how difficult his early career was as well as his personal circumstances. After having some very early success, by the early 1950s Sinatra could have easily been relegated to a brief footnote in history. It was those early days that taught him what loyalty meant to both himself and others.
While the early fifties were ugly, things changed fairly rapidly. Winning the Oscar on March 25, 1954 was a pivotal point in that turnaround and a small taste of what was to come. In Chairman Of The Board 1953-1972, that turnaround is thoroughly detailed. Sinatra quickly became a box office superstar while his deal with Capital Records made him a major business success. His personal life was another matter as marriages came and went. All of this is detailed in both text and pictures though it is the pictures that really tell Sinatra's story by way of Hollywood movie sets, recording studios, award events, and more.
The final section, Ol Blue Eyes 1973-1998, covers the later years of Frank Sinatra's incredible life. He had found peace and had gradually returned to singing by way of touring. Along the way the awards and accolades came to him from a worldwide audience as he continued to entertain people everywhere. While the text is important, the pictures truly tell the tale and are the real story of the book. Often the photographs capture other well-known figures such as Orson Wells, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, etc. As such the photographs not only give readers a glimpse back in time of Sinatra, they also serve to showcase other legendary talents and others who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be immortalized. They serve as a window into history, not only of Frank Sinatra, but of our history and culture over decades of American life.
It is worth noting that the coffee table-sized book is very heavy. Beyond the sheer weight of approximately six pounds is the fact that the text in captions and elsewhere in the book is very small. The caption text is even smaller than the main text with the result being a very well done book that could be difficult to read for those who have eyesight issues. Published by Thomas and Hudson this tome is meant as an all-encompassing historical visual record to commemorate the singer's 100th birthday.
– Kevin Tipple