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Extended Audio Sample Deconstructing Sammy Audiobook, by Matt Birkbeck Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 53.7 out of 5 3.70 (10 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Matt Birkbeck Narrator: Peter Jay Fernandez Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2008 ISBN: 9780061702495
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Equal parts cultural history, celebrity biography, and brilliant investigative journalism, Deconstructing Sammy by Matt Birkbeck is a behind-the-scenes look at the disastrous fall of one of the brightest stars of Hollywood and Las Vegas: Sammy Davis, Jr. A member of the infamous Rat Pack, a compatriot of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and one of the most popular performers of his day, Sammy Davis, Jr. was an entertainment icon and a national treasure who earned more than $50 million over the course of his career yet ended up nearly destitute. Deconstructing Sammy tells the whole sad, sordid, fascinating true story.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Birkbeck has killer leads, gripping kickers and sensational descriptions. This cinematic book reads more like a detective story than a traditional ‘life of.’”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Tremendous…Birkbeck tells the epic of Sammy Davis Jr…from his Harlem boyhood to his wrenching deathbed (he died of cancer in 1990) in his Beverly Hills mansion, where various hangers-on, seeing the circling vultures, stripped his corpse even before it was a corpse.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Reveiw

  • “A piece of investigative journalism that unravels what happened to Davis’ estate, and reveals more about the man...Birkbeck spoke to people that have never spoken before—and the portrait of Sammy that emerges is difficult, demanding, and ultimately tragic.”

    Talk of the Nation

  • “Birkbeck’s background as an investigative journalist (he has written three true-crime books) allows him to cleanly lay out Davis’s failed investments in dubious real estate ventures and fraudulent tax shelters…worthy of a reading audience’s rooting interest.” 

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 12/31/2010

    " Sammy was the modern day Mozart, in my opinion. This story is heartreaking, but essential to understand Sammy and this period in history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steven | 12/14/2010

    " After the fact analysis of how Sammy Davis let his financial woes ruin his and his relatives lives. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 9/11/2010

    " This book focuses on the trials and tribulations that Sammy's family and his estate faced following his death. Although Birkbeck does not provide a thorough biography of Davis, he provides insightful Davis anecdotes and paints an intimate portrait of Altovise Davis, his wife. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 7/29/2010

    " Well told story of an interesting man. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 5/28/2010

    " Great book. Sad what fame can do to people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 5/16/2010

    " A cautionary tale to anyone in the arts. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter | 1/12/2010

    " The beginning is definitively very slow... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Malkan78 | 11/13/2009

    " Thought it was put together well and gave some insight into the dynamic of SDJ. I always wondered why you hear so much about Sinatra and Dean, but not so much of Sammy. With an estate in disrepair it all makes more sense. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tonya | 10/5/2009

    " I'm reading the ebook version of this book. The writing is informative and succinct enough to keep you interested in completing the book even though the story of Sammy and Altovise Davis is pretty sad and, yes, frustrating. It seems as if these people never learned from mistakes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scot | 8/16/2009

    " Fascinating account of a complex and talented entertainer. "

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About the Author

Matt Birkbeck is an award-winning investigative journalist who has written for the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Rolling Stone, People, Boston magazine, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Deconstructing Sammy: Music, Money, Madness, and the Mob and the international bestseller A Beautiful Child, among other books.

About the Narrator

Peter Jay Fernandez is an accomplished audiobook narrator who has won three AudioFile Earphones Awards and an Audie Award in 2009. He has also appeared on television, film, and stage. His appearances include roles in Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and the musical Thunder Knocking on the Door.