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Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey and the Last Great Showbiz Party [Paperback]

Shawn Levy
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

3 Jun 1999

The first biography of the Rat Pack – Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop et al – the original Swingers. Brilliant and beautifully written story of their rise and fall, and their connections with the Kennedys and the Mafia.

They alit in Las Vegas for a month to make a movie and play a historic nightclub gig they called the Summit; they hit Miami, the Utah desert, Palm Springs, Chicago, Atlantic City, Beverly Hills, Hollywood back lots, illegal gambling dens, saloons, yachts, private jets, the White House itself.

It was sauce and vinegar and eau de cologne and sour mash whiskey and gin and smoke and perfume and silk and neon and skinny lapels and tail fins and rockets to the sky.

It was swinging and sighing and being a sharpie, it was cutting a figure and digging a scene.

It was Frank and Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin and Peter Lawford for a while and Joey Bishop when they asked him and Jack Kennedy and Sam Giancana and tables full of cronies and who knew how many broads.

It was the ultimate spasm of traditional showbiz – both the last and the most of its kind.

It was the Rat Pack.

It was beautiful.

‘Rat Pack Confidential’ – you’re never far from a cocktail, a swingin’ affair and a fist-fight.


Frequently Bought Together

Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey and the Last Great Showbiz Party + Live and Swingin' - The Ultimate Rat Pack Collection [CD + DVD] + The Rat Pack Collection - 3 Disc Box Set [DVD] [2005]
Price For All Three: £37.61

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (3 Jun 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841150010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841150017
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 179,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

If you're not inclined to read individual biographies of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., Shawn Levy's Rat Pack Confidential is a perfect one-stop resource. Less a group biography than a series of impressionistic snapshots, the book is loaded with can't- miss material--the dirt on the making of Ocean's Eleven, information about Sinatra's wild stint as a casino owner, deep background on Peter Lawford's habit of introducing Jack Kennedy to glamorous starlets, wiretap transcripts of mobsters Sam Giancana and Johnny Formosa discussing Dean Martin's lack of respect. Levy, whose previous book, King of Comedy Is a serious consideration of Jerry Lewis's life and career, offers similarly well-considered insights into the members of the Rat Pack. He covers Davis's lifelong struggle against racism and the complicated intertwinings of the Kennedy political machine and "the Clan," as the performers preferred to be called (they often denied anything like the Rat Pack even existed and resisted collective references). The book's debts to its predecessors are often apparent; much of the material on Sinatra's friendship with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, for example, appears to have been gleaned from recent Bogart biographies. The writing style, which tries to capture the ring-a-ding-ding feel of the era, also owes serious debts to Nick Toches by way of James Ellroy, while only intermittently reaching their level of mastery. But these are minor quibbles. As a synthesis of 30 years worth of journalism and celebrity biography, Rat Pack Confidential succeeds in portraying the supernova blowout of old-school showbiz in all its dazzling glory.

From the Back Cover

They alit in Las Vegas for a month to make a movie and play a historic nightclub gig they called the Summit; they hit Miami, the Utah desert, Palm Springs, Chicago, Atlantic City, Beverly Hills, Hollywood back lots, illegal gambling dens, saloons, yachts, private jets, the White House itself.

It was sauce and vinegar and eau de cologne and sour mash whiskey and gin and smoke and perfume and silk and neon and skinny lapels and tail fins and rockets to the sky.

It was swinging and sighing and being a sharpie, it was cutting a figure and digging a scene.

It was Frank and Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin and Peter Lawford for a while and Joey Bishop when they asked him and Jack Kennedy and Sam Giancana and tables full of cronies and who knew how many broads.

It was the ultimate spasm of traditional showbiz – both the last and the most of its kind.

It was the Rat Pack.

It was beautiful.

Rat Pack Confidential – you’re never far from a cocktail, a swingin’ affair and a fist-fight.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ice cool 10 Oct 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a highly readable account of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford) and their entourage (various Mafia characters, Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, et al.). It captures what made the period cool, evokes the atmosphere of Las Vegas at its peak, and goes a long way towards explaining the popularity of these entertainers and their work. It's the kind of book you wolf down in a few sittings, written in a lively, colloquial, funny style. Recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stars, Hoodlums and Dishonest Politicians 24 Oct 2000
Format:Paperback
A riveting expose of the life and times of the Rat Pack and it's interaction with organised crime and crooked politicians. A very stimulating read for all ages, but in particular, for those born between 1940 and 1970 who wish to understand how Las Vegas has become the tourist attraction it is today. Stars, hoodlums and politicians walk into and out of the limelight from time to time. Underlying the book's showbiz nature there are the true signs of the racial tensions amongst the nation's most popular entertainers and politicians, and the desire to use any means to win election to high political office. Despite John Kennedy's subsequent support of human rights and racial equality, this book shows him, and his family for what they... in many peoples eyes remain; gangsters! A book of great research value for any student of the Rat Pack and it's times
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all Sinatra fans 10 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is bad for your health. I read it in one sitting with only one toilet break and one food break! THe first 100 or so pages are fantastic and the last 100 or so are almost as good. The book does dip somewhat in the centre pages but what the heck, the best read I've had in years. A worth purchase.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and very readable 14 Sep 2005
Format:Paperback
A great insight into the personalities and era of the rat pack. Many parts of the book provide shocks, especially those on Sinatra who comes across a paranoid bully. Martin was a bit of a lazy sod who didnt break his back to impress anyone. Sammy comes across as a fighter who desperately tried to please everyone but was often ridiculed or hated by many without seemingly doing much wrong. Mr Lawford it seems came into the fold as an entree for Sinatra into the Kennedy fold (he loved people in power) before dumping Lawford when he thought Lawford had double crossed him. And Joey Bishop, who was suprised as anyone else when he joined the fold and was one of the few people who could rib Sinatra without risk of violence!
All in all a fascinating read into an era that seems a long long time ago, but it brings to life and unviels the flawed personalities of these superstars and legends
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BOURBON-SMOOTH ACCOUNT OF WILD TIMES. 4 Dec 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is essential reading for anyone who has even the remotest interest in the main protagonists of that all too short rule of the Rat Pack. Moreover, it succeeds as a document of Las Vegas, Mob ,and political histories of the era. This is no mean feat in a book as easy and entertaining to read as any of Dino's or Frank's songs were to listen to.
For all those of us who wish we could be like Frank,the effortless way Levy drops the bombshells showing Frank's weaknesses and frailties might just persuade us to change our minds.
A delight to read and revisit,I recommend this book to all. As a bonus,you'll get some feel for Las Vegas when it was a truly glamorous and dangerous town,and not the popcorn-heavy family fun dump it is now.
As a personal recommendation to the likes of Robbie Williams et al: read this book to discover what it really takes to be a real showbiz star and a truly great singer.
Keep Swinging! Thanks, Owen Salisbury
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleazy and gripping 14 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I loved this book. It covered a fascinating era and confirmed many of the rumours circulating about the influence of the mob. Well written and combining showbiz, politics and crime, a wonderful holiday read. One down side - I can't enjoy Sinatra the way I used to!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of the pack from the other side 7 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is a fascinating, if occasionally slow moving account, of a rivetting part of American history. I came to the book with little actual knowledge of the main characters but came away feeling that I'd got an understanding of the characters - Frank: an egotistical guy who was lonely at heart and just seemed to want a gang around him, Sammy: eager to please everybody, especially Frank and understandably hurt by the years of racial abuse, Dean: his own guy, Peter: slimey creepy Brit with little moral fibre.... This book is a perfect companion to "American Tabloid" by James Elroy in that you start to feel as you read it that you are back in Sixties America. Well worth a read and you can whizz through it in a week or 2.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it 30 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a great fan of Sinatra and his 'pals'. It was my era. I even saw Sinatra (perhaps his last concert in England) at the London Arena. I also saw his house in Palm Springs when I visited America a few years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the 'Rat Pack's' antics in my youth. This book brought all of that very much back to life. It was written in a brilliant style that very much captured the Las Vegas cum Sinatra cum Rat Pack atmosphere. It also is quite a serious book in so much as it describes not only the fun side of their lives, but also the darker side of all of them, and eventually the break-up of the Rat Pack. If you are a follower and reader of Sinatra, this will make a great addition to your collection.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it seen the movie bought the tee shirt.
Published 22 days ago by Jeff Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The Rat Pack, as always great
Published 1 month ago by Deb
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Got this for my husband he loved it good reading.
Published 3 months ago by sharon sarah white
4.0 out of 5 stars rat pack
book is ok. but there is nothing new in it. know i don,t recommend this book for a good read
Published 12 months ago by margaret corbett
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! Apparently.
Bought this for my auntie and she absolutely loved it. Book also spoke of the packs back story as well as the pack themselves.
Published 13 months ago by Adam
4.0 out of 5 stars The Beautiful and the Damned
This book, written in an appropriately `hip' style, certainly pulls no punches with regards to its subjects' personality, and consequent, behavioural defects and certainly few of... Read more
Published 13 months ago by still searching
2.0 out of 5 stars Badly written
I really wanted to like this book but it was so badly written,far too much slang and it wandered all over the place.The author also has no idea of British history. Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2010 by L. Tannette
3.0 out of 5 stars confusing
I really wanted to love this book but only ended up liking parts of it. That's not the fault of the author, there is a real pace to his words. Read more
Published on 19 Sep 2007 by The Haywards
2.0 out of 5 stars Tread carefully and enjoy
This book is, as other reviewers have said, a page turner and a riveting read. Easy prose, that simplifies things to a level glossing over the more complicated aspects of this... Read more
Published on 4 April 2007 by Dave Calvert
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Stuff!
If you don't fancy a mammoth biography on the life of these stars then this is the perfect substitute and makes for riveting reading. Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2006 by THE Music Enthusiast
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