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on 7 April 2015
I was initially reluctant to read about the Colonel because how can I want to be open minded about a man I hate so much for essentially killing the soul of the greatest modern icon we've known, suffocating all of Elvis's dreams and wanting to do everything just for the dollar? Money, money, money. Everything was about money.To be a good manager of an artist, (actor or singer or both), a person needs to have a bit of artistic knowhow aswell as business acumen. Now, to give the Colonel his due and I tried to be as objective as possible whilst reading this book, he was great for young Elvis in the 1950's (although he even intruded on his private life by telling his early girlfriends like June Juanico and Anita Wood that they remain in the background and Elvis should be seen with 'lots of girls' instead) and he was good up until Elvis came out of the army keeping his fame alive during his tour of duty, (although did Elvis really need to do the two years, we ask ourselves, what's wrong with special services?) but it was the silly bikini movies he made Elvis do in the 60's that dashed Elvis's dreams, knowing full well that the young man wanted to develop as a great dramatic actor like Brando and Dean. A good agent LISTENS to his client's dreams and does his best to make them happen. In the early days when he was naive and green, young Elvis looked on the Colonel as a father figure, grateful for his hard work and for making him richer than he ever dreamed, but a creative person needs to feel creative, inspired and fulfilled, not just rich and Elvis's resentment and despondency soon surfaced. It became like a bad marriage in the end with Parker putting Elvis out on the road like a carthorse, just to pay his exhorbitant gambling debts, like the Samual Becket play End Game where two people are stuck together for survival like a prison sentence, or a couple that live together but can't afford to get divorced. Nash has done her research to the nth degree as she always does and is amazingly objective in her writing, which can't always have been easy for her being an Elvis fan herself and we all do have our own opinions of Parker. She paints an atmospheric picture of Holland at the turn of the century and explains how Parker or Andreas van Kujik as he was, escaped an overbearing strict father and a frugal childhood to have a fantasy life in his head which give birth to dreams that fuelled his ferocious ambition, the same ambition that the teenage Presley had years later. One can understand, whether one agrees with it or not, the need for Parker to shun his family ties and reinvent himself in the U S (if he indeed DID murder that woman in Holland) . The author even tells us of the generous and kind little things Parker occasionally did, like giving to charity and his devotion to his wife Marie, to give us an overall view of the man but I'm afraid, the bullying of his staff, the compulsive gambling that pretty much ruined Elvis, because then all Parker's decisions about Elvis's career were based on how much money he could make off him to pay off his gambling debts, and his interference in Elvis's personal life and so on, outweigh them . Even the feigned sentimentality at the end of his life 'Ofcourse I loved the boy' and 'If Elvis wanted to got to Europe or elsewhere, I didn't stop him, we just couldnt find a big enough indoor venue', ( and yet to Byron Rapahel in the 50's whilst travelling, he said 'You know Byron, we're never going to be able to take Elvis abroad to do personal appearances') and 'if Elvis had wanted to do more dramatic films if he'd asked, we 'd have done them' and yet as we all know, Elvis expressed his desire for a serious acting career on numerous occasions like for instance when Robert Mitchum told him to ask Parker about a part in 'Thunder Road' at his suggestion. (It was quashed, surprise surprise.) Evidently directors could see Elvis had potential because the film roles he was offered over the years eventually went to the likes of Brando, Paul Newman and Jon Voight and none of those actors pick rubbish films to do. Alanna Nash has done a great job and I read it in three days, she is unsentimental and I felt she was 'fair' in giving Parker a 'fair hearing' if you will, as if we maybe knew a bit more about him we could understand his behaviour a bit better. So yes, maybe that has been achieved now but for me, this man is still accountable for Elvis's needless early demise and he still has blood on his hands in my view (in the literal sense too if he did indeed murder that woman, hence his whole identity reinvention). He was charismatic and interesting in many ways but not a good soul.He was a dreadful, horrible man and a killer in every sense.. That said, this is a damn good read and a fascinating account of probably the biggest (and most immoral) rock manager in modern history.
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on 6 May 2010
This is a thorough description of a complex man. Alanna Nash writes well. She describes the colonel's outward persona, as experienced by many who met him and had to deal with him, and reveals a man who had to be in control and who controlled others, often by humiliating them. And if like me, you are interested in how such a man came to be, Nash sheds valuable insight on his early life and actions. His relationship with Elvis is well documented and their interactions very telling. This is a well researched scholarly book and the author leaves it to the reader to judge the man and decide how much he was responsible for the 'making' or the 'destruction' of Elvis Presley. In my view, he made a significant contribution to both. Nash names and describes the talents, foibles and flaws of each man and the tale she tells of their intertwined lives is both fascination and tragic. It's fact but it reads like fiction.
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on 9 August 2017
Very good enjoyable read
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on 11 January 2004
Alanna Nash has written a marvellous account of the man who was the driving force behind Elvis Presley. Colonel Tom Parker was the man who took Elvis to the heights - and then stood by as the King destroyed himself by the age of 42.
It's been a mystery to many how Elvis allowed his talents to waste in a string of hopeless Hollywood movies and Las Vegas concerts that ended in embarrassment.
Nash's meticulous research explains how it all began in Holland when a young Dutchman, Dries van Kuijk, fled the country for America, assumed the name of Tom Parker, and joined the carnival trail through his new country.
That trade taught Parker the tricks that would prove invaluable in promoting the young singing sensation he met in Nashville in 1954.
Alanna Nash's story is littered with familiar names from Hank Williams to Natalie Wood; from Marlon Brando to Michael Jackson.
But it's the relevations about Parker's dark past in Holland, his gambling addiction and the deals which allowed him to take up to 50 per cent of Presley's earnings which take the breath away.
While Elvis was singing on the stages of Las Vegas, Parker was downstairs spending his earnings in the casinos. And, as Nash points out again and again, part of Presley's tragedy was that he was never strong enough to rid himself of the colonel.
There's no doubt that Parker made Presley popular music's first world superstar - but, in the end, was Parker good for Presley ? There's no comfortable summary from Alanna Nash. Like a good reporter, she allows the facts to speak for themselves. It's up to the reader to decide - I know whose side I'm on.
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VINE VOICEon 8 March 2007
We all believe we know Colonel Tom Parker.He was a horrible man who mistreated Elvis, took his money,used and abused him.Alanna Nash shows the Colonel from a different perspective.He was shrewd with a great business brain that saw every opportunity to make money but he should also take credit for opening up the access to Elvis that we all enjoy to this day.He brought Elvis to us all,in film,books and of course his music.Without the Colonel,there might never have been Elvis but,without doubt, without the Colonel we wouldn't have felt we knew Elvis personally.The Colonel showed kindness,able to hold a grudge but at the same time would remember kindness and would repay it in kind.You just have to read this book.Quite simply,the best book ever written about Elvis.Buy it and enjoy!
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on 16 July 2011
Book arrived in good time and good condition. Content is world-shattering in parts but over-written in others. Well researched and important in its content...taking the lid off the life of the biggest svengali music manager ever - amazingly the main fact...clearly stated within the covers...that Colonel Parker had committed murder in Holland and therefore could neither become a naturalised American - for fear of extradition - or leave the country (or let his charge leave America) is not flagged loud from the cover!
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on 30 July 2007
The story starts with our `hero' growing up in Holland and eventually moving over the America, going through various jobs and small-time management roles until meeting Elvis. This is of course where things get interesting...

The book is nicely placed giving about ¾ of its length to the story of `Elvis and the Colonel' and really does offer some interesting insights into the relationship. You will never come through the book liking the guy and you will feel the pain of the huge talent that Elvis left untapped but this is certainly a journey and Elvis fan will find enlightening.
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on 10 July 2011
An absolute MUST read for every Elvis fan or rock 'n' roll interested person on the planet.
The story of Colonel Thomas Parker is in every way as amazing as the one of his protegé Elvis Presley.
Left with a much fuller picture of not only Tom Parker, but also understanding the fate of Elvis himself.
Buy it - read it - love it. *****
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on 6 September 2013
interesting view of a strange man. the book could have been better proof-read, some sentences, spellings need attention! if only elvis and his dad had had the sense to privately investigate parkers status, elvis would have had no fear of any alleged "hold" Parker had over him.
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on 16 February 2013
good book written from yet another perspective. interesting, easy to read. some good elvis stories, but nothing really new. an interesting insight into the life and times of a difficult man.
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