Sinatra's Century (Hardcover)
One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World
Harper, 9780061780066, 288pp.
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
In celebration of his one-hundredth birthday, a charming, irresistibly readable, and handsomely packaged look back at the life and times of the greatest entertainer in American history, Frank Sinatra.
Sinatra’s Century is an irresistible collection of one-hundred short reflections on the man, his music, and his larger-than-life story, by a lifetime fan who also happens to be one of the poetry world’s most prominent voices. David Lehman uses each of these short pieces to look back on a single facet of the entertainer’s story—from his childhood in Hoboken, to his emergence as “The Voice” in the 1940s, to the wild professional (and romantic) fluctuations that followed. Lehman offers new insights and revisits familiar stories—Sinatra’s dramatic love affairs with some of the most beautiful stars in Hollywood, including Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Ava Gardner; his fall from grace in the late 1940s and resurrection during the “Capitol Years” of the 1950s; his bonds with the rest of the Rat Pack; and his long tenure as the Chairman of the Board, viewed as the eminence grise of popular music inspiring generations of artists, from Bobby Darin to Bono to Bob Dylan.
Brimming with Lehman’s own lifelong affection for Sinatra, the book includes lists of unforgettable performances; engaging insight on what made Sinatra the model of American machismo—and the epitome of romance; and clear-eyed assessments of the foibles that impacted his life and work. Warm and enlightening, Sinatra’s Century is full-throated appreciation of Sinatra for every fan.
About the Author
David Lehman is the founder and longtime editor of the Best American Poetry series and the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. He is the author of several volumes of poetry and cultural criticism, including A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, which won ASCAP'S Deems Taylor Award; The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets; and Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul De Man. A core faculty member of the graduate writing program at the New School, he lives in New York City and Ithaca, New York.
Praise For Sinatra's Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World…
— Ted Gioia, BookForum
“Selective, idiosyncratic and short. Some of the observations are familiar, but the best make fresh comparisons and connections. And Lehman is strong on the way Sinatra’s music continues to wend its way through the culture.”
— Ben Yagoda, New York Times Book Review
“David Lehman gives us a more nuanced study —Sinatra’s Century. The book hits all the highlights –and dim days– of Sinatra’s career, starting with his days as a big-band singer who blossomed into an idol for teenage girls. Let this book cast its spell.”
— Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Lehman, an established poet, widens the frame of reference, thereby expanding the emotional resonance of the songs…Lehman tells us what those facts mean.”
— Sibbie O'Sullivan, Washington Post
“Like Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” Sinatra’s Century offers multiple views of a subject that fascinates its author. His accomplishment is in not just telling Sinatra’s story, but in describing the man’s effect on all of us, then and now.”
— Tom Toce, Los Angeles Review of Books
“I would particularly recommend Sinatra’s Century, a wonderful new book by the poet, editor, and essayist David Lehman. The book is at once short, fun to dip in and out of, full of quirky yet thoughtful lists of best albums and songs, with a poet’s appreciation of Sinatra’s craft.”
— Ken Tucker, Yahoo TV
“Mr. Lehman holds the reader by ferreting out of the voluminous files lots of choice quotes and anecdotes that reanimate Sinatra’s gamy lost world.”
— Wall Street Journal
“Threaded through David Lehman’s 100 notes are captivating observations, histories, insights and reflections likely to serve as interesting dinner party conversations.”
— Beverly Hills Courrier
“A poet and critic by trade, Lehman has composed a paean that devotes as much space to Sinatra’s personality as to his singing…Well-written and unfailingly pleasing to read.”