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Rat Pack Confidential

Shawn Levy

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Fourth Estate

Published : 1998

Copyright : Shawn Levy 1998

ISBN-10 : PB 1-84115-001-0
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-84115-001-7

Publisher's Write-Up

Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey & the Last Great Showbiz Party

'Levy's enthralling analysis of the roots and bacchanalian rites of Frank Sinatra's showbiz pals' summit in early 60s Las Vegas… is, in Rat Pack parlance, "a gasser".' - Neon

'Shawn Levy's chronicle of this gimcrack sojourn in the desert is a delight. It is also a wonderful slice of popular cultural history, which brilliantly captures the tortured personalities of this quintet of popular entertainers… a uniquely American brand of growing up hip.' - The Times

'Rat Pack Confidential crams more juice into one story than one could rightly expect in five.' -Empire

'A dazzling account of the rise and fall of not only the three biggest, brightest stars of the age, but the very notion of genuine, ice-cold, Scotch-on-the-rocks cool.' - Loaded Fashion

'Impeccably cool... a great read.' - Melody Maker

'Lapel-grabbing entertainment.' - Independent 'Essential.' - GO

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (010302) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
I know that Frank Sinatra is rather popular at the moment, with the new release of Ocean's Eleven, but I have to say that I prefer Dean Martin, and have always done. Dean seems to smile when he sings, and sounds as though he had his tongue well and truly stuck in his cheek when he sang some of the rather more cheesy songs that we all love so much.

I knew that Frank Sinatra was not a very nice man, and that the rest of the Rat Pack were not exactly paragons of society, but they were of a different generation, when stars were larger than life and people accepted their behaviour as long as it was not overt or tarnished their images. I did not know, though, how the story ended, and how sad and tawdry it all was.

The book is about the relationships between them, it is not meant to be a biography of all of them as there have been books about them separately. It does not show them in a very flattering light.

Frank Sinatra seems to have been an insecure man, always wanting to be at the centre of things, as a major mover and shaker, it goes back through his childhood, as an only child, who tried to buy friendship with things that he had. It seems that he never grew out of this habit, and it shaped his relationships with other people, either wanting something that they had, or holding something that he had over them.

Frank is at the heart of this book, the linchpin on which all of the legends and stories are based. It tells of his relationship with Sammy Davis jr, how he treated him as a younger brother, and how he asked Sammy to move his wedding so that it would not embarrass JFK during his run for the presidency. (Sammy was marrying a white Swedish model, at a time when black people were not allowed to bet in the big casinos in Las Vegas).

It is also the story of Las Vegas, how it all changed, with the mob influence and what it meant when Frank was said to be involved. These stories are old hat now, and seem to have taken on a quaint folkloric aspect, but then it was all very serious. Frank is said to have arranged that Bobby Kennedy lay off the mob, in exchange for a load of money spent on his brothers behalf to buy votes towards the presidency, but he did not follow through with his part of the deal, and Frank, who had been the go between found that his stock with both was seriously damaged.

It starts with stories of men with talent who made the most of those gifts, but who were eventually destroyed by the life that they led. The saddest image is that of Peter Lawford, originally married to one of the Kennedy clan, and who was seen as Sinatra's way to the Kennedy's, but who ended his life in squalor, after being divorced for philandering, and dumped by the Rat Pack. I always felt sorry for Dean Martin, who seems to have been destroyed by the death of his son, and retreated into himself, becoming a drunk, mirroring the act on the stage.

I think that the thing that I found that I disliked about Sinatra was the way that he treated people, and bullied them. Ladies were available to them all, and they all partook freely, but he provided them for the Kennedy's. To paraphrase the song "That is why the man was a lowlife".
Chrissi (1st March 2002)

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