Alanna Nash's biography of Colonel Tom Parker, The Colonel
, uncovers a life story even more complicated, dark and entertaining than that of the promoter's greatest talent, Elvis Presley. Nash had unique access to the Colonel and many of those closely connected to him in assembling the facts that underlie her narrative, and the book reads like a mystery as it probes the origins of Parker's power.
Ultimately, Parker was protecting himself in his manipulation of Elvis, Nash argues. Though her evidence is not conclusive, she suggests that Parker (born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk) feared deportation his entire life, but, more importantly, he may have fled his native Holland in 1929 after committing murder. In America Andreas transformed himself into Tom Parker while immersing himself in the worlds of the carnival and circus. This work led him to the promotion of musical acts and, eventually, the creation of his greatest mass entertainment and merchandising bonanza, Elvis. Elvis would become a shield against the demons of Parker's past and fuel his insatiable appetites.
Parker's life remains shrouded to a large degree, despite Nash's efforts. The narrative is at times sensational in its attempts to dramatise the malign aspects of Parker's character, and those coming for a definitive answer as to the cause of Elvis's self-destruction will find new light, but no final answers. Yet Nash's biography will likely remain the best picture we will ever have of the mysterious Tom Parker, and fans of Elvis will appreciate this insider's view into their hero's rise and fall. --Patrick O'Kelley, Amazon.com
About the Author
Alanna Nash is also 'responsible for the best Elvis book to date (Uncut magazine): Elvis Presley: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia. A feature writer for the New York Times, she lives in Louisville, Kentucky.