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The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley Hardcover – 19 May 2003

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Printing edition (19 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743213017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743213011
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.4 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 900,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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,

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.

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To a first-time visitor, the town of Breda, Holland, is a picture postcard of European charm and character. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 24 Nov 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In 1977 three of Elvis' former bodyguards released a book chronicling his demise. It's title was Elvis-What Happened?
All these years later, innumerable books have been published from countless sources, each of them in their way tell us about the tragedy that happened.
What makes Nash's book different for me is that it tells the story of why it happened. No other book has succeeded in breaking into the enigma which was Elvis, like this one. To understand Elvis, you need to know about the dark force that made all the decisions in his life and finally took it. This book is essential reading from a perspective that constructs three dimensions to the truth behind Elvis' destruction.
This is one of the most disturbing books I have ever read, unpalatable and dark. Towards the end of Elvis' life as told in the book, I was overwrought with sadness and dreaded turning the pages that would lead to his death. When it did come, It was a relief to get past , because I no longer had to read the horror that had become his life.
Even though the author doesn't write her own opinion on Colonel Parker the anecdotes and stories in the book condemn him for all eternity. From the offset he robbed Elvis Presley blind, forever setting up side deals which excluded Elvis and enriched him and his cohorts, cheating Elvis out of tens of millions of dollars over his career. The opinion I came away with after reading the book was that Parker made far more money out of Elvis than Elvis ever did.
But the most tragic part is that Parker worked his star relentlessly to finance his own gambling addiction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marcella on 8 Jun 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is, yet again, an amazingly researched book by Alanna Nash. She tells the story of man who made Elvis and who destroyed him. Alanna is an ultimate master of detail while at the same time lets readers to make their own conclusion. She forces readers to think, to argue, to agree or disagree.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nevik on 14 Dec 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great read. What a hateful man & his dealings with The King. Robbed him all the time. Only interested in what he could get for himself. An illegal Dutchman in America, who was terified he would be discovered
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By patricia d on 15 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback
Good book I am enjoying reading it .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 38 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The best rock management biography ever written 29 Jan 2005
By Siriam - Published on
The title including the word "Extraordinary" is fully justified. I thought this book would be a "dishing the dirt" epic on Parker but it turns out to be a very well researched lifetime biography of the Colonel's life and not just his involvement with Elvis.

The well told story is of a man who from poor beginnings in Holland was involved in a murder there and forced to flee to the USA at an early age. He then spent his life as an illegal immigrant with that dark secret.

His early struggles with poverty in the 1930s and 1940s including being discharged from the army with mental illness, sets the scene for a man who revitalised his childhood fascination with fairs and carnivals, which were a major circus in the Americas of that period. All the man's later business cunning and marketing skills were learnt in that "carny" environment of deceit, overstatement, advance promotion and getting the cash in any deal as soon as possible to survive. He clearly retained a soft spot for this teaching ground all his life.

His first major music involvement came with country star Eddy Arnold who he fell out with when Arnold found him doing personal side deals. With no real appreciation of music ever, he became aware of the early Elvis and the storm he was creating in the South and took control under an initial contract that fully reflected Parker's approach all his time in managing Elvis of keeping it simple and balanced in his favour.

The view established by the book is that while the Colonel (a title obtained by politial hucksterism and not from his army days) always looked after Number One and was continually doing side deals that personally benefitted him not his client, the usual Elvis fan's view of the Colonel being a parasite is certainly challenged-

- the fan mania developed across 1956 and subsequent years including manipulation of the RCA label and TV was unprecedented and owed a lot to the flair of Parker to do things differently in the face of others historic approach to how to promote pop stars;

- Elvis's enlisting into army service and his "protected" life in Germany plus a controlled keeping in the public eye across those years may owe more to the manipulation of Parker;

- the much derided series of Elvis movies in the 1960s together with their hit singles and dross LPs may in retrospect have actually protected Elvis from live performance and a decline in popularity esp. with the advent of the Beatles plus given his lifelong poor approach to financial matters kept him earning a steady stream of income in that period;

- the return to live performance while driven by Elvis was taken to a new level by Parkers' approach to concert promotion, both in Las Vegas and across the USA.

However, the book does not flinch from the downsides of the man's personality and approach to business, especially his endless paranioa, bullying and control by fear over all those who worked with him; his ensuring limited access and opportunities being shown to Elvis by others (notably his failing to allow his development as an actor in serious roles); his Las Vegas deals fuelled by his increasing addiction to gambling and not Elvis's best interests at the hands of the casinos, and due to his illegal immigrant status his unwillingness to ever allow foreign tours by Elvis which in the later years could have been major revenue earners for him.

The sad conclusion is that Parker given his personality always saw himself as the person in charge and Elvis his instrument and that Elvis's success and earnings were down to the Colonel's skills and negotiations not Elvis's talents. The reality demonstrated endlessly is that Elvis and his family (especially his father) were never going to challenge Parker, given their lack of financial acumen and extravangant spending laid them open to continual manipulation. Parker in turn given his personality was unable to help as Elvis's deline under drugs gathered pace and the inevitable happened.

The post Elvis years show a man who was still driven by the self benefitting deal and his manipulation of the Elvis estate, with the sad endgame as he gambled ceaslessly of a man who earned an estimated $100 million plus from his relationship with Elvis but at death had less than a million dollars in assets.

This is by far the best rock management biography that I have ever read.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding! 2 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Being neither a Col. Parker fan nor an Elvis fan, I was apprehensive about tackling this book...Much to my amazement, I found this biography to be a riveting and compelling psychological profile/investigation of the "puppetmaster" behind the scenes. The meticulous research into the Colonel's mysterious past, in conjunction with the complex dynamics of the relationship between the two men, creates a portrait of interest to anyone fascinated by an intensive exploration of human relationships. A "must read!" for anyone intrigued by exploring in depth insights into the multifaceted interactions of the world behind the show biz scene. To dismiss this book as yet another Elvis/Parker volume would be a grave mistake. There are so many dimensions of this story that will appeal to a broader audience on a variety of levels. Any reader will be simply be awed by this groundbreaking work that can appeal to fans as well as those readers who simply appreciate a fascinating story and psychological investigation! Much like a detective novel, this book instantly hooks the reader and evolves into a true page turner! Don't miss [it!!!]
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Tony Brice - Published on
Verified Purchase
If you're interested in Colonel Thomas Andrew Parker, this is THE book for you. This story took years and many man-hours of exhaustive research to bring to fruition. By now, most Elvis fans are well aware that Parker was an illegal Dutch immigrant by the name of Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk. But until now, relatively little was known of his life in the 'old country.' We learn that a woman was brutally murdered in Parker's hometown in Holland on the very day of his disappearance. Did he commit the dastardly deed and abscond to America? Of course, we'll never know, but it's an interesting theory, nonetheless. It appears that the old boy may have been asexual. If so, this might explain his aversion to being touched. Though Parker earned mega-millions during his lifetime, he left behind a relatively modest estate. Of course, the same can be said of Elvis. Parker's addiction was gambling, while Elvis simply overspent on virtually everything.They were both masters at profligate spending. The Colonel seemed to possess a "Jekyll/Hyde" personality, displaying acts of kindness and generosity to loyalists and cruelty to others. The Eddy Arnold years are very interesting indeed. Parker and Eddy were opposites, and Parker's taste for ostentation sometimes clashed with Eddy's more conservative tastes. The story of Parker moving in with the Arnolds is hilarious. Alanna Nash is a very gifted writer and unless I'm mistaken, this is her third Elvis-related book. "Revelations" is still the best Elvis book I've ever read. I've never had the pleasure of reading the Alan Fortas book, which I believe she ghost-authored, though I hear it's excellent. Her latest book is an intriguing read which I finished in one day. I simply couldn't put it down. The phrasing, the meticulous research and the fascinating enigma that was Tom Parker all come together quite nicely. Buy this book. I promise you'll like it.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Bravo, Alanna! 31 July 2003
By Larry Geller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have a different perspective on this book than most people, as I was part of the history Alanna Nash so eloquently recounts. I was for many years Elvis Presley's close friend and personal hairstylist, and of course I had numerous encounters with "The Colonel." I had been anxiously awaiting what was being touted as the "definitive" book on this larger-than-life man. There have been so many inaccurate and speculative books about Elvis and the people around him, especially Col. Parker, that I was concerned this might be just another disappointment.
Wow! Was I pleasantly surprised. Finally a three-dimensional portrait of an elusive man who spent his life controlling not only the lives of people around him, but his own history. Alanna Nash hit the mother-lode. Her journalistic background, her meticulous research and novelist's skill with words have enabled her to create a fascinating and realistic picture of this man who was behind the scenes of the greatest entertainer of all time. The Colonel, with his personal demons and his professional genius, comes to life in the pages of this hard-to-put-down book. This is indeeed the definitive book about "Colonel Tom Parker." Bravo, Alanna!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A True Depiction of Andreas' Heart 1 Dec 2003
By Katiuska Hanohano - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In all of my Elvis journeys I have been waiting for a long time for a book that depicts the true hidden world of Colonel Parker (aka Andreas) and his relationship with Elvis. The research and conclusions of Alanna regarding his inner secrets are extraordinarily accurate. As a professional singer myself I must admit I would give anything to have had such a dedicated and talented manager like Col. Parker; but, without having to pay the price that Elvis did. I'm certain that if Elvis had read this book he would have agreed with its conclusions. And in my opinion, Col. Parker would probably have never made a name for himself without Elvis Presley.
This book would also be a great read for those in power in the music industry, and the wannabees that litter the entertainment landscape.
Outstanding research and scholarship. Thank you Alanna!
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