Feature

Jake Tapper recommends 6 books about the Rat Pack era

The CNN anchor recommends works by James Kaplan, Judith Exner, and more

CNN anchor Jake Tapper is the author of two thrillers. His first, 2018's The Hellfire Club, is being adapted into an HBO series. His new sequel, The Devil May Dance, follows Charlie and Margaret Marder as the couple infiltrates Frank Sinatra's circle.

Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan (2010).

To best be able to submerge myself in the 1962 Rat Pack Hollywood to write my new thriller, I dove into some great books about that time. There are many fascinating biographies of Frank Sinatra, one of the main characters in my book, but James Kaplan's two volumes may be the best. Volume one takes Sinatra's life story to 1954. Buy it here.

Sinatra: The Chairman by James Kaplan (2015).

Now we reach the era of The Devil May Dance. I love writing about the 1950s and early 1960s because on its surface the time seems so glamorous but in reality was full of menace: McCarthyism, the rise of the military-industrial complex, conspiracies, Cold War tensions, racism, and misogyny. The inspiration for my book comes from a true story: Sinatra, who had worked his heart out to get John F. Kennedy elected, had his Rancho Mirage, Calif., compound built out in expectation of hosting the president in 1962. But Attorney General Robert Kennedy, investigating organized crime, became concerned about his brother staying in a home where mobsters had also slept. Buy it here.

The Manchurian Candidate by Greil Marcus (2002).

In my thriller, our heroes Charlie and Margaret befriend Sinatra on the set of The Manchurian Candidate. Greil Marcus' essays about the trippy 1962 film are a fascinating window into the era. Buy it here.

Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams by Nick Tosches (1992).

For art, don't miss Tosches' literary rumination on Dean Martin. Poetry. Buy it here.

Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra by George Jacobs (2003).

Jacobs was Sinatra's personal assistant, and he's another character in The Devil May Dance. His memoir provides an absorbing look at Sinatra and complicates the old saying, attributed to French wit Madame Cornuel, that no man is a hero to his valet. Buy it here.

My Story by Judith Exner (1977).

Exner, who knew Sinatra, Kennedy, and mobster Sam Giancana quite intimately, wrote a memoir that's now out of print but still a dishy read. Even if only half of it is true, you'll find yourself shaking your head in amazement. Buy it here.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

Recommended

6 book recommendations from Monica Byrne
Monica Byrne.
Feature

6 book recommendations from Monica Byrne

15 books to read this fall
A tree.
Feature

15 books to read this fall

Why is Canada burning books?
The Canadian flag.
Samuel Goldman

Why is Canada burning books?

6 book recommendations from Deborah Feldman
Deborah Feldman.
Feature

6 book recommendations from Deborah Feldman

Most Popular

Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman almost make it through interview without awkwardness
Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman
Last Night on Late Night

Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman almost make it through interview without awkwardness

Democrats are governing like Republicans
A donkey.
Picture of W. James Antle IIIW. James Antle III

Democrats are governing like Republicans

After Biden huddles, Democrats moderately optimistic about passing progressive agenda
Joe Biden
Dems in Disarray

After Biden huddles, Democrats moderately optimistic about passing progressive agenda