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Following on from Last Train To Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley, this is the second volume in this definitive Elvis biography, taking his life from his time in the army until his death in 1977. Subtitled, "the unmaking of Elvis Presley" this is not the story of his rise, but rather his fall. It takes us through his dissatisfaction with his career in endless teen films, his desire to go back on tour, his short lived marriage and many girlfriends. Towards the end of his life both his personal relationships and his career seemed to be in freefall and there was much to read that saddened me. However, the author always treats his subject with respect and understanding. If you want to understand the man that Elvis was, you could do little better than read this two volume biography, which is written with enormous depth and also immense affection.
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VINE VOICEon 7 January 2007
This book follows on from Last Train to Memphis and gives an amazing insight into Elvis and how he was used and abused by family and friends.Colonel Tom Parker is shown in a positive light,warts and all.The book is incredibly well written,full of interesting detail and written sympathetically.It details the life of Elvis from his army days and is a book difficult to put down.You will believe,after reading this book,there is nothing you don't know and won't have the need to read anything more about Elvis,such is the detailed info contained in this great read.Highly recommended to all serious fans but possibly a little to heavy for others with only a little interest in the King.Fantastic value for money.
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on 14 June 2015
What a brilliant book.
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on 20 May 2000
This book documents Elvis' life from the time he left the army until the time he passed away, covering in depth his years with the so-called Memphis Mafia. It has to be one of the most compelling and interesting musician biographies I've read. It draws on a huge archive of interview material and is sympathetic to its subject, a poor Southern boy who gets the whole world, but sadly can't live a normal life because of it. You come away with respect for Elvis as a person, rather than the tacky icon he became. Highly recommended!
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on 6 February 2002
Mr Guralnick second part of Elvis' biography rehabilitates much of Elvis fat and decadent image without denying it.The book is well written, well researched and never loses its objective grip. It clearly describes the slow, but defintite slide downwards of a desperate Elvis. Elvis, it seems, feels trapped, lonely and often bored. It is really revealing how Elvis is ruined artistically in the 60's by the Colonol and his own entourage. No one seems to believe or understand the true greatness of Elvis as a singer - he remains the lucky Kid to most of them.
Apart from a brief (and often ignored) artistic renaissance in 1968 - 1973, Elvis never rises to his olde highs - though he himself seems despearte to do so. Often he hates his own movies and crappy songs - but remains loyal to the Colonel's deals. "The Colonel always has done him well" being the reason.
In the end Elvis is heading for selfdestruction, often wrestling with his own selfesteem, but caring less and less. What remains to end though is his love of singing. Sad, but classical reading into the pressures of stardom even if you're not an Elvis fan. It is all about the rise and fall of a superstar with Elvis being a great template for many examples.
If you think Elvis was crap ever since the 60's & never bothered to be interested - this book explains why and why not you'd be right without getting gossippy or taking sides. I'll bet you go out and try some of his 70's records, probably a live one.
A great book to read on a great subject.
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on 14 August 2010
Having read volume 1 of Mr Guralnick's biography of Elvis and visiting Graceland etc earlier this year , I was keen to read the second half of the Elvis Story. His research sources , detail and writing style make this without doubt one of the best biographies I have read. It is not told from any angle of either "rose coloured spectacles" or "dishing the dirt" but provides the fairest balance of a troubled yet compelling lifestory. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in true talent and human nature.
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on 16 February 1999
Peter Guralnick paints a picture of Elvis unlike any other literature I've read on the entertainer. For the first time when reading of Presley I don't feel as if the subject is 'The King'. Instead, I am turning pages which describe Elvis Presley: citizen; tax payer; friend; husband; father; lover; and most importantly, singer.
Guralnick is able to scrape away the seemingly endless layers of myth surrounding his subject. He doesn't take the easy route by dwelling on events which are now 'folklore', such as the meeting with the Beatles. There is no dramatic telling of how the drug habit began. Rather, information on it is presented as any vice presents itself. Something which is part of the day-to-day life of the person and over time grows to control them. There is no judgement made here by the author, simply an account of events. When presented as a myth Elvis comes across as kitsch, a joke. Yet when presented as a homosapien by Guralnick he is absolutely fascinating. Pages float by regardless of the fact that we know the tragic ending. We are reading of a life like any other, filled with joy, sorrow, betrayal, dissappointment, triumph and death.
It is the passages recalling recording sessions and performances, however, where Guralnick's book truly comes to life. It is obvious the author not only loves, but believes in the music he is describing. Here we discover the true professional at peace with the artist. No 'good' song was complete unless Elvis was happy with the performance he gave. Recording sessions would go into the wee small hours with no guarantee of a successful result. The mood of the studio was of utmost importance and we learn of various producer's attempts to create an atmosphere where the singer could 'get into' a session and then hopefully 'lose himself' in the song. A common theme coming from these sections is that this is the only time the subject truly offered himself up for public consumption/scrutiny. Otherwise he kept a closed circle.
The detail, though necessary, can be overwhelming and one must have a determined thirst for Elvis and/or his music to see their way through. Guralnick delves into detail on subjects that, for people who play Presely's Greatest Hits while doing the housework, may seem like a waste of paper. People such as Colonel Parker, who has long appeared as nothing more than a greedy and manipulative manager, is given a fair hearing courtesy of the author's remarkably extensive research. The 'Memphis Mafia'(Presley's entourage), its members and their relationships with each other are examined and give another demension to a group which has previously been written off as simply a bunch of 'Yes Men' scavengers. These tangents however are the key to the book as by learning more about the people Preseley surrounded himself with we learn a tremendous amount about the man himself. Insecure, lonely, temperamental, dangerous, egotistical, unreasonable, hypocritical, immature, gifted, respectful, quiet, generous, loyal, loving, professional, inspirational - human.
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on 10 October 2000
I bought this book in the States for something to read on the plane. I did not put it down until I had finished it, including during my bouts of jetlag.
I was 15 when Elvis died. On that day the Guardian newspaper ran a brief obituary on the front page. It basically tore into the man describing him as a drug bloated porpoise who used to blow up TV's for fun. This is still the widely held view of Presley.
After reading the book I reflected with great sadness how a man so talented had been steered so far off course by his well meaning entourage. Elvis was detoured by the Col Parker whose avarice was only outweighed by the size of his girth. His so called buddies kept him so dumbed down he just accepted his lot as a true gentleman.
Many famous people have said that when you get to the top there is no-one around you. You have no peers. In Elvis's case he was totally alone. Who had done what he had created? Sinatra perhaps, but did he create the hysteria like Elvis.
The financial dealings are very interesting. Again, here we have Elvis and Parker breaking new ground in what we take for granted in the entertainment business of today.
A fascinating account of a truly talented star.
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on 9 November 2011
This is an incredible book. I have been an Elvis fan for most of my life and I have never really understood what went wrong, and have often asked myself exactly why did Elvis go into such a decline. This book enabled me to fully understand what happened.

Having learned the basics of what happened in various books, documentaries and interviews, this helped fill in the missing pieces, it goes into such depth that I could almost feel how Elvis and those surrounding him felt at crucial points in his decline.

In summary the problems that accumulated would have broken a majority of people much earlier.

Almost certainly the major problems that plagued Elvis in the final few years of his life included the damage to his ego due to Mike Stones' relationship with Pricilla, the raquetball ball court fiasco, the bodyguard book, low record sales, bad concert reviews, the Colonels' gambling habit, the weight problem, the drug addiction, the CBS TV Special, financial expenditure greater than income and Gingers' lack of commitment to their relationship, the list goes on.

Perhaps the live concerts although sometimes difficult to execute with his declining health were probably a little light relief from all of the above and they paid some of the bills.

After reading the book I really can't see how Elvis could have dug himself out of this dark hole. I still can't decide whether it was suicide or an accidental overdose, I suppose we shall never know.
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on 20 May 2011
After the exhilaration of the read that is "Last train to Memphis" - detailing the rise of Elvis, Peter Guralnicks charting of Elvis' slide into self-destruction - "Careless Love" - is both compelling and heartbreakingly sad. I was eight years of age when Elvis died and I can still remember my mother crying and sobbing upon hearing the news. The telling of a tragic story where everybody knows what is coming at the end is handled very well by the author and is at times rivetting. Guralnick manages to transfer the futility of Elvis' death expertly onto the page.

Whether you are a serious Elvis fan looking for more information about the life and death of Elvis or a casual reader just looking for a good read I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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