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From dealing blackjack in the small-time gangster  town of Steubenville, Ohio, to carousing with the  famous "Rat Pack" in a Hollywood he  called home, Dean Martin lived in a grandstand,  guttering life of booze, broads, and big money. He  rubbed shoulders with the mob, the Kennedys, and  Hollywood's biggest stars. He was one of America's  favorite entertainers. But no one From dealing blackjack in the small-time gangster  town of Steubenville, Ohio, to carousing with the  famous "Rat Pack" in a Hollywood he  called home, Dean Martin lived in a grandstand,  guttering life of booze, broads, and big money. He  rubbed shoulders with the mob, the Kennedys, and  Hollywood's biggest stars. He was one of America's  favorite entertainers. But no one really knew him.  Now Nick Tosches reveals the man behind the  image--the dark side of the American dream. It's a  wild, illuminating, sometimes shocking tale of sex,  ambition, heartaches--and a life lived hard, fast,  and without  apologies.


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From dealing blackjack in the small-time gangster  town of Steubenville, Ohio, to carousing with the  famous "Rat Pack" in a Hollywood he  called home, Dean Martin lived in a grandstand,  guttering life of booze, broads, and big money. He  rubbed shoulders with the mob, the Kennedys, and  Hollywood's biggest stars. He was one of America's  favorite entertainers. But no one From dealing blackjack in the small-time gangster  town of Steubenville, Ohio, to carousing with the  famous "Rat Pack" in a Hollywood he  called home, Dean Martin lived in a grandstand,  guttering life of booze, broads, and big money. He  rubbed shoulders with the mob, the Kennedys, and  Hollywood's biggest stars. He was one of America's  favorite entertainers. But no one really knew him.  Now Nick Tosches reveals the man behind the  image--the dark side of the American dream. It's a  wild, illuminating, sometimes shocking tale of sex,  ambition, heartaches--and a life lived hard, fast,  and without  apologies.

30 review for Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Nick Tosches, former writer for Rolling Stone magazine, brings the same in-house, smug disdain for any musician not named Jackson Browne or Bruce Springsteen or The Eagles, let alone a prehistoric nonentity like former cool cat, Rat Packer, Dean Martin. Contempt hangs over this book like the acrid smell of burning meat when your neighbor gets too drunk to turn his burgers over during a cookout. Mix that with a misguided leitmotif (something about a multi-metaphoric breeze that wafts over Dino at Nick Tosches, former writer for Rolling Stone magazine, brings the same in-house, smug disdain for any musician not named Jackson Browne or Bruce Springsteen or The Eagles, let alone a prehistoric nonentity like former cool cat, Rat Packer, Dean Martin. Contempt hangs over this book like the acrid smell of burning meat when your neighbor gets too drunk to turn his burgers over during a cookout. Mix that with a misguided leitmotif (something about a multi-metaphoric breeze that wafts over Dino at key points in his life) and a prose style that mixes hipster jargon, a smattering of Italian words and phrases and some of the more wince-inducing passages I’ve come across in a while and you have this seamy tale of debauched celebrity. Like most biographies I’ve read, this book takes some time to hit its stride. Except for Dean’s hatred of all things apple, his childhood was pretty much standard stuff. It’s not until he teams up with “the creepy-looking Jewish kid”, Jerry Lewis, does the book take off in a big way. For my Goodreads friends that aren’t taking advantage of their senior discount, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were the cat’s pajamas from 1946 to 1956 – they were a comedy team that started out as night club act and took their comedy act to radio, TV and the movies. Despite the dough and the broads, Dino got progressively tired of Jerry’s rampant ego-driven megalomania and the team acrimoniously split up. It was in all the papers. Kudos to Dean Martin for teaming up for ten years of his life with Jerry Lewis. For me, it’s almost impossible to spend 90 minutes with the guy. Dean Martin was a guy blessed with looks, a good singing voice and an easy, laid back manner. Nothing phased Dino and this is a concept Tosches runs with – Dean the Indifferent or Dino the Pod Person – someone who withholds his true feelings and nature from others – Dino the Obelisk – keeping the world at bay while reaping the riches by simultaneously embracing family values (It’s a Dino Yuletide!!) and undercutting those values with misogynistic asides and smutty double-entendres (Guess what Dino’s stocking is stuffed with? Try putting a Christmas bow around that?). There’s also Dean the Philandering Whore-Monger and Dean the Hepped Up, Percodan Popping Drunk too. Foster Brooks – at the feet of a master. The drunk routine (his vanity plates read “DRUNKY”) became less of an act and more of a way of life and combined with his general apathy, his Vegas act consisted of thirty minutes of him singing songs he had no interest in singing or finishing – with the ultimate act of scorn having Dino flicking lit cigarettes into an audience. That’s Amore, pally!!! Overarching takeaway: Celebrities are pretty much all a bunch of a$$holes. Why did I gave it four stars? Like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, contemptuous storytelling and tales about whoring drunken celebrities are right in my wheel house of “favorite things”. The Fifties – a time of great subtlety

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Anyone thinking about writing a biography about Dean Martin, forget about it. "Dino" isn't hard to beat, it's downright impossible. The inexhaustible biography on Dino covers every facet of his career, from the Jerry Lewis sidekick days to his great TV show to his surprisingly successful movie career to the goofy Matt Helm spy films, "Dino" runs 652 pages and never gets boring, just like Mr. Martin himself. Anyone thinking about writing a biography about Dean Martin, forget about it. "Dino" isn't hard to beat, it's downright impossible. The inexhaustible biography on Dino covers every facet of his career, from the Jerry Lewis sidekick days to his great TV show to his surprisingly successful movie career to the goofy Matt Helm spy films, "Dino" runs 652 pages and never gets boring, just like Mr. Martin himself.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Orange

    It provided quite a lot of information, but I would have preferred a biography that didn't include parts written from Dean's perspective that attempted to convey Dean's thoughts to the reader - or at least what Tosches believed Dean thought. These sections tended to have an irritating abundance of death metaphors (like bad fanfic making a desperate attempt to be philosophical). The author also comes across as gratingly racist and sexist, freely using the n-word and never referring to women as an It provided quite a lot of information, but I would have preferred a biography that didn't include parts written from Dean's perspective that attempted to convey Dean's thoughts to the reader - or at least what Tosches believed Dean thought. These sections tended to have an irritating abundance of death metaphors (like bad fanfic making a desperate attempt to be philosophical). The author also comes across as gratingly racist and sexist, freely using the n-word and never referring to women as anything but "broads" - not to mention this delightful little piece of imagery (one of many similar examples): "If the world was now a tired wife, he could still sense in rare breaths now and then the luscious bitch he once had so delicious seduced." Dean's triumphs are constantly phrased in terms of the metaphor of a woman ("bitch", "broad") that he has dominated. Overall, it was rather thematically contradictory for Tosches to explore Dean's psyche in third-person omniscient when quotes from those who knew Dean emphasise how impossible it was to figure out what he was really thinking.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Spiros

    I grew up in a time when Dean Martin, like Elvis, had ceased to have any relevance. I vaguely remember the Dean Martin show, and slightly more clearly remember the Roasts, but by and large the stream of time had pretty well carried Dino out of the zeitgeist, at least in San Francisco of the '70's. To this day, RIO BRAVO is the only one (out of the very few of his many movies that I have seen) of his films that I can ever imagine myself watching again. As for his music, I actually prefer Sinatra, I grew up in a time when Dean Martin, like Elvis, had ceased to have any relevance. I vaguely remember the Dean Martin show, and slightly more clearly remember the Roasts, but by and large the stream of time had pretty well carried Dino out of the zeitgeist, at least in San Francisco of the '70's. To this day, RIO BRAVO is the only one (out of the very few of his many movies that I have seen) of his films that I can ever imagine myself watching again. As for his music, I actually prefer Sinatra, and I don't even like Sinatra. So how is it that I can have given a voluminous biography of someone I don't care about, a man who was, in any event, a cipher, five stars? The answer, my friend, is Nick Tosches. One thing that is manifest from this book is, that however jejune and inane Martin's surviving output may seem to me (don't get me started on Martin and Lewis), the man was an avatar of cool, and Tosches cogently assesses this cool as built of a combination of "lontano", the distance Martin kept between his emotions and the world around him, and "menefreghista", which Tosches defines as "one who simply did not give a fuck". This was Martin's crowning achievement, and it accounts for his attractiveness as a character. Ironically, for a man who so thoroughly renounced his past, the deaths of his parents in the late '60's caused his wall of cool to crumble, and began a sordid descent into ill-advised marriages, and live performances in which he took a subsidiary role that finally allowed Sinatra to eclipse him. The final chapters of this epic are almost unbearably sad, not because Dino becomes a tragic figure, but more because he becomes a farcical one. "What more could one ask of life than a bottle of scotch, a blowjob, and a million bucks?" is the formulation Tosches frequently repeats to summarize Dino's creed, and surprisingly, the millions seemed to arrive commensurately with the scotch and the blowjobs. In purely financial terms, Martin had to have been one of the most successful performers who ever lived, and surely that is the only way he ever would have measured success. If posterity might feel let down by the dearth of quality in his recorded output, well then surely the joke is on posterity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Dean Martin is an elusive and fascinating character. From what I can tell, it would be impossible to write a biography that gets to the core of "who he was," so instead Tosches uses Martin's life as an intense and sprawling exercise to take apart all kinds of ideas about America. The son of Italian immigrants, Dino Crocetti lived The American Dream to the hilt. He followed every empty promise America had to make. He saw the whole sham for what it was, and was never ashamed to expose it. He hated Dean Martin is an elusive and fascinating character. From what I can tell, it would be impossible to write a biography that gets to the core of "who he was," so instead Tosches uses Martin's life as an intense and sprawling exercise to take apart all kinds of ideas about America. The son of Italian immigrants, Dino Crocetti lived The American Dream to the hilt. He followed every empty promise America had to make. He saw the whole sham for what it was, and was never ashamed to expose it. He hated when actors claimed that acting was hard work. During his live shows, he frequently stopped mid-song, not caring to continue. For someone so culturally involved in the huge lie that is American "culture," Martin seems to me to still be an honest personality. What you see is what you get. My favorite passage: "For [Henry:] Miller, as for the masses of sub-literate and post-literate slobs who comprised the vast heart of Dean's viewership, Dean was the American spirit at its truest: fuck Vietnam, fuck politics, fuck morality, fuck culture and fuck the counterculture, fuck it all. We were here but for a breath; twice around the fountain and into the grave: fuck it." This book rules.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Someone Youmayknow

    I love Dean Martin, I always will and I won't let this crappy author and his inability to string a simple sentence together ruin my adoration. Possibly, he had a terrible editor. More likely Mr. Tosches simply has no idea what he is doing. The book itself could have been 200 pages shorter if he decided that he wanted it to be about Dean Martin and not a lengthy history of organized crime. Yes, Dean Martin was supposed to be involved with organized crime but this author did not need to delve quit I love Dean Martin, I always will and I won't let this crappy author and his inability to string a simple sentence together ruin my adoration. Possibly, he had a terrible editor. More likely Mr. Tosches simply has no idea what he is doing. The book itself could have been 200 pages shorter if he decided that he wanted it to be about Dean Martin and not a lengthy history of organized crime. Yes, Dean Martin was supposed to be involved with organized crime but this author did not need to delve quite do deeply, page after page, to convince us. Fortunately, the well written parts of the book, the sections that keep me reading were written by others and quoted here. Possibly there is a lack of material written about Dino and that is why Mr. Tosches had to pad the book so much.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    This has got to be, stylistically, the worst written biography I've ever read... I've read a lot of biographies about both Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis now, plus I've easily watched and read close to a hundred hours of source material, so I'm pretty positive I can definitively say that Tosches' writing style is literally the opposite of who Dean Martin was as a person: meandering, desperately 'edgy' and straight up pretentious. It's obvious he doesn't have enough material to fill out the book he This has got to be, stylistically, the worst written biography I've ever read... I've read a lot of biographies about both Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis now, plus I've easily watched and read close to a hundred hours of source material, so I'm pretty positive I can definitively say that Tosches' writing style is literally the opposite of who Dean Martin was as a person: meandering, desperately 'edgy' and straight up pretentious. It's obvious he doesn't have enough material to fill out the book he thought he was writing, so the first 100 pages are filled up with tangential information about the history of Italian American immigration, the Italian mob and every woman and minority-based slur known to man for no other reason than it's 'rock-n-roll' edgy to do. I get that he was trying to drum up some excitement for a guy who'd been long dismissed as a self parody by the early '90s, but boy does he do it in the worst possible way. That this book was praised so highly is absolutely wild to me, it reads almost like a parody comedy sketch of mobsters. When Tosches stops with his 'n****r whoredom of slutitude' word wankfests (always with some italian thrown in despite the fact that he even quotes Dean Martin saying he only spoke a dialect and he wasn't even that great at it), I will admit there is some good information here about Dean Martin. Tosches obviously did a lot of research and put a lot of time into compiling what he could get his hands on, even if it doesn't amount to a whole lot of detail outside of the Martin and Lewis years. I do think he made a mistake by focusing more on mob ties than on Dean's family and friends. There's barely any information about his brother here, for instance, or about his marriage or home life. You can learn more through Google and YouTube at this point, through interviews from people Tosches easily could have tapped. Then the book ends as it starts, devoid of any meaningful information. After Martin and Lewis dissolve, he positively gallops through Dean's movie years, unfortunately. It morphs into this increasingly looser sketch that just sort of peters out, like a senile Dean Martin forgetting his lines. But Dean Martin never seemed at all like that extremely 1990s middle-finger-and-Penthouse attitude that Tosches uses as a crutch for all things "uncaring" throughout. Sure, he womanized like hell and did what he wanted when he wanted, but that was out of convenience, not malice. Tosches gets so focused on this menefreghismo stuff that he sort of misses the forest for the trees–what is all of this manly posturing than insecurity disguised as power? Tosches quotes Jerry Lewis as calling Dean Martin out as more insecure than he realized, but Tosches doesn't seem to ever acknowledge it further. I get the sense that Dean Martin was the type of guy who never wanted to truly put his all into anything for fear of failure and embarrassment. It explains why he never was comfortable with change and never wanted to do several takes in music or tv/film despite always being on time and knowing every word. It also explains why he gravitated towards comedy and especially drunk comedy (it's never a mistake, it's part of the joke!). Then when his projected easy-going attitude was mistaken for pure masculine confidence, he rode that wave straight to the bank. Of course that all backfired on Dean when he realized all that was expected of him was to show up, drink a glass of bourbon and pretend to sing. The bar was set too low and the acceptance came too readily in spite of it; he lost respect for himself and, in turn, he lost respect for his own audience. Eventually Dean did embody the carelessness everybody presumed he started with–his later years were definitely defined by a 'if that is all there is to it then fine, fuck off, that'll be all you get' attitude.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Totally enjoyable book. Part straight show-biz bio, part impressionistic reverie, part filthy gutter gossip. It's an unlikely mix that works perfectly in this case. Dean Martin has always puzzled me -- he sang with such undeniably genuine warmth and yet he also made sure we all knew he never actually gave a f*ck. Turns out this duality colored all his personal relationships, as well. How sad. Tosches book is by turns overblown, blunt, purely speculative and meticulously researched. And darkly fu Totally enjoyable book. Part straight show-biz bio, part impressionistic reverie, part filthy gutter gossip. It's an unlikely mix that works perfectly in this case. Dean Martin has always puzzled me -- he sang with such undeniably genuine warmth and yet he also made sure we all knew he never actually gave a f*ck. Turns out this duality colored all his personal relationships, as well. How sad. Tosches book is by turns overblown, blunt, purely speculative and meticulously researched. And darkly funny: That fall of 1958, [Dean Martin:] also sold his name and likeness to Liebmann Breweries in New York: " 'You may need good luck on the links,' says the famous crooner, 'but not at the nineteenth hole. You always score with Rheingold Extra Dry.' " He was now in the company of Ernest Hemingway, who, six years before, had put his name to the immortal advertising prose: "I would rather have a bottle of Ballantine Ale than any other drink after fighting a really big fish." A few months later, a "Playhouse 90" production of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls shared a television evening with "The Dean Martin Show." One New York reviewer found the former "hopelessely confused, pretentious, dated"; the latter, with "no pretenses at art or esthetics," on the other hand, "was thoroughly pleasant." Beaten now by Dean in both the literary and television arenas, Hemingway spent his final two years on earth in a slow, sad march to the grave.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Harry

    I've been meaning to read this book since it came out 25 years ago. A must-read for anybody who is interested in the Rat Pack and old Hollywood. I've been meaning to read this book since it came out 25 years ago. A must-read for anybody who is interested in the Rat Pack and old Hollywood.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve Shilstone

    Well researched. The enigma of Dean Martin remains unsolved.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Don Gorman

    (1 1/2). Lots of information but not enough insight into one of the most famous entertainers of the 1950's-80's. Singer, actor, ladies man, night club star extraordinaire, his ability to deal with mobsters and not his own life or finances is unbelievable. The Jerry Lewis thing is equally nuts, but it sure made them famous, and lots of money that they sure had a hard time keeping. Dino turned out to be a very lonely soul, even though it seemed that any woman around was always available. A hard bo (1 1/2). Lots of information but not enough insight into one of the most famous entertainers of the 1950's-80's. Singer, actor, ladies man, night club star extraordinaire, his ability to deal with mobsters and not his own life or finances is unbelievable. The Jerry Lewis thing is equally nuts, but it sure made them famous, and lots of money that they sure had a hard time keeping. Dino turned out to be a very lonely soul, even though it seemed that any woman around was always available. A hard book to plow through, but there is some fun in the details when you get through the never ending stream of chaff.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Will Nett

    Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams Follow the lineage of the so-called Cult of Celebrity- whatever that is- and you won’t get much further back than Dino Crocetti. Martin was the original famous-for-being-famous face, be it sloshing around in nightclubs, fart-arseing across the putting green or squiring some brainless gold-digging chorus-liner, pursuing all of these well in to his dotage. Never afraid to let light in on magic, Tosches burns a hole through the talent myth that prece Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams Follow the lineage of the so-called Cult of Celebrity- whatever that is- and you won’t get much further back than Dino Crocetti. Martin was the original famous-for-being-famous face, be it sloshing around in nightclubs, fart-arseing across the putting green or squiring some brainless gold-digging chorus-liner, pursuing all of these well in to his dotage. Never afraid to let light in on magic, Tosches burns a hole through the talent myth that preceded, and indeed proceeded, the ‘Rat Pack’- a tag they collectively hated- and introduces us to the real ‘talent’ behind Martin’s success: the Mafia, in the fedora’d guise of the likes of Sam Giancana, Skinny D’amato, and Jonny Rosselli. Tosches’ research, even by his own exhaustive standards, is about as comprehensive as it was possible to be at the time of writing. The bibliography and source list runs to well over 50 pages and also includes Martin’s 40 year-spanning musical career and filmography. The author gets as close to Dean as any other of the book’s subjects, the constant theme being that Dean never really allowed himself to get close to anyone- not least his early comedy partner Jerry Lewis, who’s exploits take up a considerable chunk of the book, as you’d expect. Tosches’ slight tendency to overwrite- most often in using seemingly unrelated events as framing devices- pushes the book up to a bumper 450 pages, but contains gems such as his description of Martin at the height of his fame as ‘a mob-culture Zeus’ and chapter headings like ‘Aristeia in Sharkskin.’ Amidst the deluge of recording sessions, hokey film scripts, and the tragedy of a lost son, we’re reminded that there’s no fool like an old fool as Martin lurches, like so many ‘legends’ into the realms of self-parody and mental torment, but as the man himself once sang ‘I don’t care if the sun don’t shine.’

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Jonas

    This ranks as one of the least satisfying of the many biographies I've read, and Tosches is one of the most pretentious writers I've ever encountered. He's so busy being impressed with himself, and carrying out his apparent mission to dazzle the reader with his prose, that in the end he gives very little insight into Dean Martin as a human being. My impression is that he's one of those writers who actually envy their subjects and their success in life, and who, possibly without really realizing This ranks as one of the least satisfying of the many biographies I've read, and Tosches is one of the most pretentious writers I've ever encountered. He's so busy being impressed with himself, and carrying out his apparent mission to dazzle the reader with his prose, that in the end he gives very little insight into Dean Martin as a human being. My impression is that he's one of those writers who actually envy their subjects and their success in life, and who, possibly without really realizing it, have an agenda to cut down and tar-brush the celebrity in question rather than give an honest and objective appraisal of his admirable characteristics along with his flaws. I'm not the least bit impressed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dave Hofer

    Vactaion 2008/2009 reading, part 3: This book was pretty cool, even though the author was a bit long-winded. Also the second book I've read about a Rat Pack member. Crazy to see how different showbiz was back then, but how similar it was in many regards: movies were mostly just remakes, the press sucked, and everyone was fucking everyone else. Worth checking out, though. Vactaion 2008/2009 reading, part 3: This book was pretty cool, even though the author was a bit long-winded. Also the second book I've read about a Rat Pack member. Crazy to see how different showbiz was back then, but how similar it was in many regards: movies were mostly just remakes, the press sucked, and everyone was fucking everyone else. Worth checking out, though.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara Patterson

    I had SO looked forward to this book, and it is awful. It is way too wordy and poetic for my taste. I love biographies, and I read a lot of them. This one is one of the worst. I couldn't even learn anything about Dean Martin because I was too busy deciphering this guy's poetic nonsense. Not good. I had SO looked forward to this book, and it is awful. It is way too wordy and poetic for my taste. I love biographies, and I read a lot of them. This one is one of the worst. I couldn't even learn anything about Dean Martin because I was too busy deciphering this guy's poetic nonsense. Not good.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve Leach

    Fifties and sixties chicanery--from Steubenville to Vegas. Great subtitle. With Nick Tosches, you always get more than a straight bio, and especially when the subject is Dean Martin.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Duke Cullinan

    Pretty amazing. Tosches blows the doors out with research, and he seems to use all of it. Every gig, paycheck, movie, TV show, radio show, guest shot, recording session, court appearance, and bowel movement (there actually are references to this) . . . it's in there. Which you'd think would be boring. Until you start reading. Tosches puts a framework around Dean Martin and his life, mainly two things: 1. his preference to maintain great distance between himself and others, and 2. the attitude of Pretty amazing. Tosches blows the doors out with research, and he seems to use all of it. Every gig, paycheck, movie, TV show, radio show, guest shot, recording session, court appearance, and bowel movement (there actually are references to this) . . . it's in there. Which you'd think would be boring. Until you start reading. Tosches puts a framework around Dean Martin and his life, mainly two things: 1. his preference to maintain great distance between himself and others, and 2. the attitude of 'I don't give a fuck' (and that he really didn't). This is Tosches take on Dino. Through this lens he portrays pretty much all of show business as the lowest of tawdry shams, bordering on actual fraud. And he's not talking just the business end, though that is the cause, he's talking about the "art" itself. And Tosches would use the quotes. Somehow, Dino, himself, comes off a little bit sympathetic, while everything and everyone else is basically a shit show. Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Dean's directors and co-stars, his producers and agents, his wives and lovers, his children - no one makes it out unscathed. And it might seem harsh, but really, how many saints are there in the world? Dig long enough - and it usually doesn't take long - and you'll eventually hit a dead body. All of which should make for a grim and bitter read. But this is a great page-turner. Tosches has a lust for his topic and premise, and the prodigious chops and attitude to make a masterpiece out of it. I believe the premise, but I also believe Tosches has exaggerated for effect, much as all of show business and art does in service of communicating and entertainment. Dino was probably only 75% as artistically corrupt, morally bankrupt, and emotionally empty as Tosches would have you believe.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    This was exceptional. I've always been a fan of Dean Martin and read about this biography in a Greil Marcus book. It was nowhere to be found locally. I finally found it at the U of W - Laramie library, which was bizarre. At any rate, this was one of the best biographies I've ever read. There was no sugar here, just a lot of darkness. The prevailing theme - over and over - was that no one really knew Dean Martin because he shut himself off from everyone, including numerous wives, girlfriends, his This was exceptional. I've always been a fan of Dean Martin and read about this biography in a Greil Marcus book. It was nowhere to be found locally. I finally found it at the U of W - Laramie library, which was bizarre. At any rate, this was one of the best biographies I've ever read. There was no sugar here, just a lot of darkness. The prevailing theme - over and over - was that no one really knew Dean Martin because he shut himself off from everyone, including numerous wives, girlfriends, his children, and all of his "pallies". On one hand, he worked ALL of the time, never stopping, never slowing down, even until the very end. On the other hand, he was incredibly bitter and detached from everything and everyone. His relationship with Jerry Lewis was beyond volatile and all of the Rat Pack mystique was mostly just living to excess to the point of being self-destructive (beyond even what I imagined already) and emotionless. I think what makes this biography different from virtually any other was the fact that there was no happy ending, just the story of a depressed, aging icon who saw fame and fortune (experiencing it to the absolute hedonistic fullest) and then embraced his decline with bitter laughter and acceptance - pure, unquestioned honesty, truth, and darkness.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jay Johnston

    This book had been overhyped for me (ahem...Mike Maron's WTF podcast). It's also taken me a while to find a used copy in paperback as I believe this is still out of print and without a e-version. Because of that long delay from really WANTING to read it, to actually reading it, that I think I was a little disappointed. Regardless of all that, Tosche's writing is incredible with some amazing passages scattered throughout (Rest in Peace, Nick). Also....I think I was a little bit daunted by the siz This book had been overhyped for me (ahem...Mike Maron's WTF podcast). It's also taken me a while to find a used copy in paperback as I believe this is still out of print and without a e-version. Because of that long delay from really WANTING to read it, to actually reading it, that I think I was a little disappointed. Regardless of all that, Tosche's writing is incredible with some amazing passages scattered throughout (Rest in Peace, Nick). Also....I think I was a little bit daunted by the size of book, as I was running out of gas/interest once I got about half-way through the physical book. Once I realized that the last 20-25% of the pages research notes and appendix, I breezed through the rest of it at a much faster pace. As a side-note, this is the first book I've read that was NOT a Kindle version in probably 4-5 years. It helped me realize just how bad my eyes had gotten, so I've since picked up a pair of OTC readers and have my first prescription lens coming in the mail soon. So thanks for THAT old school book format....fitting that it would be a book about the king of "Old School" himself, Dean Martin. Recommended for those with a deep interest about the music & movie industry during this time period......it's probably too much detail and too slow of a pace for those looking a "tell all" type book or a summer page-turner. Given a more granular rating scale, I would have assigned this a 3.9.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ThereWillBeBooks

    Fascinating. Dean Martin was always my favorite member of the Rat Pack and Tosches does nothing to dissuade me of this opinion. In fact, if anything, his nuanced depiction of Martin has deepened my fascination with Dino’s inscrutable persona. He moved like a whiff of smoke through the seedy Hollywood of the 20th century, taking advantage of all the perks and seemingly unfazed by the crime and sycophancy. Disdainful of gangsters and his former partner Jerry Lewis and all the other trappings of st Fascinating. Dean Martin was always my favorite member of the Rat Pack and Tosches does nothing to dissuade me of this opinion. In fact, if anything, his nuanced depiction of Martin has deepened my fascination with Dino’s inscrutable persona. He moved like a whiff of smoke through the seedy Hollywood of the 20th century, taking advantage of all the perks and seemingly unfazed by the crime and sycophancy. Disdainful of gangsters and his former partner Jerry Lewis and all the other trappings of stardom, all Tosches’ Martin wants to do is show up, hit his mark, sing his songs and then go golf. Dean Martin was a fascinating if elusive figure and Nick Tosches is able to get as close to the essence of the man as possible. How talent and charm can make one a leading man in a mirage. Dino is what happens when celebrity biographies are written by talented and insightful writers. It’s something I’d like to see more of.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zach Church

    I loved Nick Tosches' Jerry Lee Lewis book. On some counts, this is better, in that it is more research, less conjecture, more complete, and more of a true biography. But the subject himself drags the whole book down. Dean Martin is not very much fun to read about, possibly not much fun to have been around, and overall something of a bore. Tosches draws a picture of a loner and seems to mistake that for some sort of uncaring cool. I found myself caring less and less, especially after the Jerry L I loved Nick Tosches' Jerry Lee Lewis book. On some counts, this is better, in that it is more research, less conjecture, more complete, and more of a true biography. But the subject himself drags the whole book down. Dean Martin is not very much fun to read about, possibly not much fun to have been around, and overall something of a bore. Tosches draws a picture of a loner and seems to mistake that for some sort of uncaring cool. I found myself caring less and less, especially after the Jerry Lee Lewis split. Jabs are thrown throughout, plenty at Sinatra and a few at Elvis. I understand those are essentially jabs on behalf of Dean and Tosches does have a way with briefly fusing the narrator's voice to Dean's that makes for an interesting read at least. But for a true classic look at the how mid-20th century culture unfolded around a single person, read Peter Guralnick's two volume Elvis biography. At least Elvis appears to have cared about the music.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Edward Champion

    Alright, Tosches. You're on point here. There are some bold takeaways about Dean Martin's life here -- perhaps not entirely on point, but plausible because Tosches has the research to back this up. He also relies on some surprisingly honest interviews with the likes of Jerry Lewis to reveal what a sad and ego-driven figure Dino was. How much you are willing to go along for the ride involves how much you are willing to buy into a figure who was, as presented here, not particularly nice and not as Alright, Tosches. You're on point here. There are some bold takeaways about Dean Martin's life here -- perhaps not entirely on point, but plausible because Tosches has the research to back this up. He also relies on some surprisingly honest interviews with the likes of Jerry Lewis to reveal what a sad and ego-driven figure Dino was. How much you are willing to go along for the ride involves how much you are willing to buy into a figure who was, as presented here, not particularly nice and not as remarkable as his press. One cannot gainsay Tosches's punk rock approach here. It's the kind of liberating voice that we need to see more of these days.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Malcolm

    Had to skim as I overdosed on contract details, track listings on albums and quotes from movie reviews. Did not gain any great insight into Martin's famously aloof demeanor. The origin story in Stuebenville and background on Italian immigrants and the mob was all interesting. Not sure if all the Italian language flourishes helped or the strange rants Tosches would go on. Possibly an enjoyable read if you keep your expectations low and plow through the repetitive bits. Had to skim as I overdosed on contract details, track listings on albums and quotes from movie reviews. Did not gain any great insight into Martin's famously aloof demeanor. The origin story in Stuebenville and background on Italian immigrants and the mob was all interesting. Not sure if all the Italian language flourishes helped or the strange rants Tosches would go on. Possibly an enjoyable read if you keep your expectations low and plow through the repetitive bits.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    While the information was very interesting, this author writes like a 1950s gangster. Really odd. Rather than discussing Dean Martin's death in the final chapter (we are never told when and how he died) he writes nonsense - as if he is writing Martin's thoughts - sort of a dream sequence that serves no purpose. If you can make it through paragraphs of this sort of thing, this book does provide a detailed look at Martin's life. While the information was very interesting, this author writes like a 1950s gangster. Really odd. Rather than discussing Dean Martin's death in the final chapter (we are never told when and how he died) he writes nonsense - as if he is writing Martin's thoughts - sort of a dream sequence that serves no purpose. If you can make it through paragraphs of this sort of thing, this book does provide a detailed look at Martin's life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Frank Molyneux

    This is an extremely well researched book, its notes and sources run to 69 pages. Dean Martin had talent and looks and used these attributes to his advantage ending up as a very wealthy man. His talent meant he had success initially in a comedy duo with Jerry Lewis, followed by even more success as a singer and movie star. He may have fallen out with people along the way but so what, his talent would out.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ben Chinn

    A kick in the head of a biography. Dean Martin takes center stage as he rarely did in life, as a hugely successful show business operator, an idol of his peers (including Sinatra), and a talent undone by his own shallowness and lack of emotional commitment to anyone or anything. He wasn't an innovator like Bing, or a prodigy like Sammy, so the questions remains: how did he do it? A kick in the head of a biography. Dean Martin takes center stage as he rarely did in life, as a hugely successful show business operator, an idol of his peers (including Sinatra), and a talent undone by his own shallowness and lack of emotional commitment to anyone or anything. He wasn't an innovator like Bing, or a prodigy like Sammy, so the questions remains: how did he do it?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jim Siteman

    Interesting Bio of an entertainer who was more successful than most people remember. Played 2nd fiddle to Jerry Lewis for many years but this book shows how he carved out his own career for decades after they broke up. Aloof at being a "star" or a friend as well as being a deeply flawed man Toshes presents him as he was. Interesting Bio of an entertainer who was more successful than most people remember. Played 2nd fiddle to Jerry Lewis for many years but this book shows how he carved out his own career for decades after they broke up. Aloof at being a "star" or a friend as well as being a deeply flawed man Toshes presents him as he was.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I had no interest in the biography of Dean Martin. But I'm running out of books by Tosches I haven't read. Tosches language and phrasing is as rich as always. I found out things about Dean Martin, the Rat Pack, the mob and its link to the Kennedy brothers. I had no interest in the biography of Dean Martin. But I'm running out of books by Tosches I haven't read. Tosches language and phrasing is as rich as always. I found out things about Dean Martin, the Rat Pack, the mob and its link to the Kennedy brothers.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Earl Bayer

    The research was exhaustive and the life and times of Dean Martin are certainly interesting. That said, the author must have stock in Websters. Reading the book was a chore with the $100 words and complex sentences. I am glad I read it but was it ever tedious at times.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Flusche

    Everything you ever wanted to know about Dino and a lot of things you did NOT want to know. A few to many "F" word and "N" word. But always with quotes. "Whiter than white" shows up quiet a bit too, not to mention "wop". All and all it is a well written biography. Everything you ever wanted to know about Dino and a lot of things you did NOT want to know. A few to many "F" word and "N" word. But always with quotes. "Whiter than white" shows up quiet a bit too, not to mention "wop". All and all it is a well written biography.

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