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Deconstructing Sammy: Music, Money, Madness, and the Mob

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Deconstructing Sammy is a book by author Matt Birkbeck about the life and death of Sammy Davis, Jr. and the subsequent efforts to restore his legacy. The book focuses on the efforts of a Pennsylvania lawyer, Albert "Sonny" Murray Jr., who was hired in 1994 by Sammy's poverty-stricken wife Altovise to help resolve Sammy's debts. Upon his death from cancer in 1990, Sammy Davis Jr. owed over $15 million, of which $7 million was owed to the Internal Revenue Service. Murray spent seven years representing the Davis estate, from 1994 to 2001, during which time he resolved the debts, restored Sammy's legacy and earned Sammy a posthumous Grammy Award in 2001. It is Murray's investigation that carries the narrative thread, and exposes Sammy as a brilliant yet tragic figure in American culture. The New York Times said in a December 2008 review that the book was "Gripping" and "Sensational." The Los Angeles Times called Deconstructing Sammy "Epic" and "Tremendous" in a stirring November 2008 review. The Tennessee Tribune described the book as "stunning" in a November 2008 review. Deconstructing Sammy was published in hardcover in September 2008 by Amistad Harper Collins. The paperback version was published in September 2009.
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date of publication: 2008

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