"Why Sinatra Matters," by Pete Hamill. Little,...


"Why Sinatra Matters," by Pete Hamill. Little, Brown. 185 pages. $18.

Pete Hamill explains "Why Sinatra Matters" (Little, Brown, $18) in a tight 185-page book about the entertainer who died last May.

It's clear that Hamill is a respectful biographer, a fan who apparently has followed Sinatra's career since childhood. He doesn't dwell on the rumors about Sinatra's mob ties, his romances or his disdain for the press but he doesn't ignore them, either.

What Hamill concentrates on is how the Hoboken, N.J., native and son of immigrants rose to become one of the most intriguing entertainers of the 20th century, and why his death made a nation pause and take notice.

Hamill notes up front that the book doesn't pretend to be the final word on Sinatra -- a turbulent man who lectured high school kids on the dangers of racism and read Hemingway, slugged reporters and slept around.

Hamill shows a bruised Sinatra who cared about what people thought and who struggled at times with fame and career. Sinatra's path wasn't easy.

If you didn't feel a sense of loss or sadness when Sinatra died, you might feel it after you read this book.

Pub Date: 01/10/99

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