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Careless Love is the full, true, and mesmerizing story of Elvis Presley's last two decades, in the long-awaited second volume of Peter Guralnick's masterful two-part biography. Last Train to Memphis, the first part of Guralnick's two-volume life of Elvis Presley, was acclaimed by the New York Times as "a triumph of biographical art." This concluding volume recounts the seco Careless Love is the full, true, and mesmerizing story of Elvis Presley's last two decades, in the long-awaited second volume of Peter Guralnick's masterful two-part biography. Last Train to Memphis, the first part of Guralnick's two-volume life of Elvis Presley, was acclaimed by the New York Times as "a triumph of biographical art." This concluding volume recounts the second half of Elvis' life in rich and previously unimagined detail, and confirms Guralnick's status as one of the great biographers of our time. Beginning with Presley's army service in Germany in 1958 and ending with his death in Memphis in 1977, Careless Love chronicles the unravelling of the dream that once shone so brightly, homing in on the complex playing-out of Elvis' relationship with his Machiavellian manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It's a breathtaking revelatory drama that for the first time places the events of a too-often mistold tale in a fresh, believable, and understandable context. Elvis' changes during these years form a tragic mystery that Careless Love unlocks for the first time. This is the quintessential American story, encompassing elements of race, class, wealth, sex, music, religion, and personal transformation. Written with grace, sensitivity, and passion, Careless Love is a unique contribution to our understanding of American popular culture and the nature of success, giving us true insight at last into one of the most misunderstood public figures of our times.


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Careless Love is the full, true, and mesmerizing story of Elvis Presley's last two decades, in the long-awaited second volume of Peter Guralnick's masterful two-part biography. Last Train to Memphis, the first part of Guralnick's two-volume life of Elvis Presley, was acclaimed by the New York Times as "a triumph of biographical art." This concluding volume recounts the seco Careless Love is the full, true, and mesmerizing story of Elvis Presley's last two decades, in the long-awaited second volume of Peter Guralnick's masterful two-part biography. Last Train to Memphis, the first part of Guralnick's two-volume life of Elvis Presley, was acclaimed by the New York Times as "a triumph of biographical art." This concluding volume recounts the second half of Elvis' life in rich and previously unimagined detail, and confirms Guralnick's status as one of the great biographers of our time. Beginning with Presley's army service in Germany in 1958 and ending with his death in Memphis in 1977, Careless Love chronicles the unravelling of the dream that once shone so brightly, homing in on the complex playing-out of Elvis' relationship with his Machiavellian manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It's a breathtaking revelatory drama that for the first time places the events of a too-often mistold tale in a fresh, believable, and understandable context. Elvis' changes during these years form a tragic mystery that Careless Love unlocks for the first time. This is the quintessential American story, encompassing elements of race, class, wealth, sex, music, religion, and personal transformation. Written with grace, sensitivity, and passion, Careless Love is a unique contribution to our understanding of American popular culture and the nature of success, giving us true insight at last into one of the most misunderstood public figures of our times.

30 review for Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley

  1. 4 out of 5

    Msmeemee

    this book is sad as fuck. i started out being a fan of the image elvis portrayed, the music that he brought into the world. then i made the mistake of wanting to get to know him as a person. after being thoroughly inspired by guralnick's first book, "last train to memphis," i delved almost immediately into this one, the second volume of the "definitive biography" on the king himself. i'd read countless reviews of this volume in preparation for the tragic ending. and tragic it is indeed. as a matt this book is sad as fuck. i started out being a fan of the image elvis portrayed, the music that he brought into the world. then i made the mistake of wanting to get to know him as a person. after being thoroughly inspired by guralnick's first book, "last train to memphis," i delved almost immediately into this one, the second volume of the "definitive biography" on the king himself. i'd read countless reviews of this volume in preparation for the tragic ending. and tragic it is indeed. as a matter of fact, his death wasn't so sad as it was the years preceding it. it was obvious to everyone, even elvis himself though he always denied it, that the guy was miserable. his complete dependence on pharmaceuticals and narcotics was actually his way of committing a very slow and painful suicide. there are many ways to interpret his life: as a greek tragedy, as the fall of the american dream, as a religious tale of someone who got totally swept up by every sin in the book. you name it, elvis lived it. I took the plunge. "Elvis, if we're gods, or at least have this 'divinity' in us, why do we need drugs?" "Silence is the resting place of the soul. It's sacred. And necessary for new thoughts to be born. That's what my pills are for...to get as close as possible to that silence." - p. 456 i think what's sad the most is that he was always innocent underneath it all. being a psychologist, i saw someone who was still very connected to his mother though she passed away. (a lot of the women he was "with" felt they often took on the role of "mother," talking to him in baby talk, responding to him when he called them "mommy.") from the time of her death, it was all downhill from there for elvis. that's another reason why i wasn't as traumatized by his death; he finally go to be with her, he finally got to rest. the guy was never at peace. "He used to say to me, 'Honey, you're not going to change a forty-year-old man.' But in another way there was also this very naive, this almost infantile quality about him - very innocent and very pure, kind of pitiful. He definitely evoked a protective quality - he called me 'mommy,' and I wasn't the mother of his childd. But I was an incredibly maternal presence in his life." - p. 582 look at me, i'm talking as though i knew the guy. and that's one of the great things about this book. the interviews that guralnick compiled really gives the reader an in-depth look at the man behind the god. i no longer feel that it would be right to call him "sex-on-legs" anymore. there's more to him than that. that was just stuff we all saw on the surface, but underneath it all, he was lonely, he was miserable. as a young boy, he was a social outcast. he just wanted to connect with people; that was what his music originally did. but then fame and celebrity took over and his personal connection with his fans was drowned out by deadlines and music contracts, all of which appeared to have stifled the very core of being human. in some ways i'd like to call the colonel, his manager, as the devil. he orchestrated a lot of elvis' success financially, but at the expense of elvis' humanity. it was all just business with that fucker. i could go on and on, but i'm going to save that for the next elvis book i hope to get my paws on later, "the inner elvis."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    If volume 1 (Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley) was the triumphant rags-to-riches part of the story, this is the crash and burn. What is so sad is that the seeds of the final destruction are set so early. This picks up the story with Elvis' stint as a GI in Germany in the late '50s and already he's on pills to curb his weight (wait, while he's in the army?), and then is introduced to amphetamines to keep his energy levels artificially high. Inevitably, this leads to him having to If volume 1 (Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley) was the triumphant rags-to-riches part of the story, this is the crash and burn. What is so sad is that the seeds of the final destruction are set so early. This picks up the story with Elvis' stint as a GI in Germany in the late '50s and already he's on pills to curb his weight (wait, while he's in the army?), and then is introduced to amphetamines to keep his energy levels artificially high. Inevitably, this leads to him having to take tranquillisers to come down and sleeping tablets... Not surprising, then, that the previously sweet if single-mindedly ambitious man starts showing extreme mood swings, flashes of cruelty and ego. Also disturbing is his meeting with Priscilla when she's just 14 (he's ten years older) and while he refuses to have a sexual relationship with her until she's older, they certainly have a romantic relationship. His obsession that she remain 'pure' (good wife material) is just as disturbing, as is the increasing flow-through of women. Back in civilian life, there are major changes, too. Colonel Tom Parker calls all the shots (not that Elvis disapproves) and has put his money on Hollywood: cue the stream of mostly forgettable films that replace Elvis' touring and concerts, with recording dropping off the back of the films. As time goes on, the movies becomes more and more disposable, some being filmed in under three weeks, and the sheer number of movies made is incredible: Elvis comes off set, has a few weeks off, starts the next one. Apart from a few iconic movie scenes like Jailhouse Rock, most of the musical content is pretty bland (check YouTube) though Elvis' charisma still shines in the corny but cute Wooden Heart, GI Blues, and some of his scenes with Ann-Margaret (Viva Las Vegas). In 1968 Elvis finally calls a halt and makes a 'comeback' TV special (again, check it out on YouTube): puffy, dripping with sweat in his black leather suit, porn-star sideburns and all he still is enthralling to watch as his cheeky smile flashes out and he's having fun again with music, his musicians and his audience. But at just 35, he's already surviving on a cocktail of drugs, is unhappy, depressive, and increasingly paranoid - and the final tragic decade that is to end on that bathroom floor is already in train. It struck me while reading this that while we hear much about the curtailing of artistic freedom and creativity under Soviet rule (Solzenitsyn, Bulgakov, Pasternak, Shostakovich), it's rarer to explicitly contemplate the way western capitalism might also impact on artists: Elvis' career from 1958 onwards, masterminded by Colonel Parker, becomes all about how to maximise the profit - making increasingly throwaway films in Hollywood simply pays far more (and all the financial and contract details are here) than recording and touring, playing the music that Elvis genuinely lived for. Of course, Elvis was himself complicit in this, but it never made him happy. Buying yachts, planes, giving away fleets of luxury cars to his entourage, stumbling through interchangeable relationships with women who were never replacements for his dead mother, surviving on pills to wake up, perk up and go to sleep, all constituted a kind of depressing half-life. So this is a desperately sad, though gripping, book - comparing the pure joy of Elvis' first breaks into music with the broken spectacle he became is tragic. So much ferocious talent, so much raw and natural charm, such a voice and musicality - such an ending.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    This massive two-part biography is one of the best books I've ever read. I would put it in a shortlist of the essential nonfiction books to read if you want to understand American culture. Elvis was always an awkward and lonely person that loved all kinds of music. But our rapidly shifting culture made him look like a chameleon - he started out as a scandalous rock and roller in the mid-50's, then he was the patriotic symbol of post-war American exceptionalism in the late 50's, then he became th This massive two-part biography is one of the best books I've ever read. I would put it in a shortlist of the essential nonfiction books to read if you want to understand American culture. Elvis was always an awkward and lonely person that loved all kinds of music. But our rapidly shifting culture made him look like a chameleon - he started out as a scandalous rock and roller in the mid-50's, then he was the patriotic symbol of post-war American exceptionalism in the late 50's, then he became the poster boy for pointless Hollywood sellout dreck in the early-to-mid 60's, then he was the stuck-in-the-past square during the British Invasion of mid-to-late 60's, then he was the roots rocker rising from the ashes ('68 comeback special), then he was a glorified lounge act (for his Vegas shows), and then, tragically, he was the stereotypical bloated, out-of-touch, and self-destructive rock star in the seventies. It's heartbreaking to read about Elvis struggling to stay relevant in a culture that he adores but always, even at the height of his popularity, thinks of him as a gimmick. He starts his career being too dangerous for late night TV, but at the end of his short life, he could not even watch late night TV because his favorite hosts were making fun of him for being "fat and forty." This book will break your heart. All I need to say to convince you is that his bloated corpse was photographed by his own cousin to sell to tabloids. I kept rooting for an intervention as Elvis becomes completely dependent on prescription medications to do literally anything - amphetamines to wake up, painkillers all day, and sleeping pills at night. The interventions are halting and sincere but they all quickly fail. His friends (all on his payroll) try to figure out how to save his life while paradoxically pushing him to endlessly tour so he could continue to buy them new cars every Christmas and jewelry whenever the mood struck. I was surprised by how much I liked his friends/layabout employees, even the unbelievably incompetent Dr. Nick, who basically wrote prescriptions for whatever Elvis wanted and defended himself by saying that he actually gave him placebos sometimes to curb his habits. I was not surprised at all that Dr. Nick was the inspiration for the quack Simpsons character. But Elvis cared about these men and they did all care for Elvis, even the ones who wrote tell-all biographies about him. The author makes gentle reminders that they did not know what they were doing and did not know how to help him. There was no Betty Ford clinic back then. Even Dr. Nick tried to get Elvis treated for depression by sneaking in psychiatrists disguised as doctors during one of his many hospital stays, but Elvis saw right through them. Elvis needed professional help from the future and, even if it had been available, he probably would not have accepted it. So, the author wisely stays away from moralizing and instead focuses on why Elvis liked having his friends around. And that makes a richer reading experience overall. The author also does a great job of detailing Elvis' spiritual crises without being condescending. Elvis was very close with his mother and when she died, suddenly and quite young, Elvis was devastated. Not helping his emotional state were his father, who quickly stole a new girlfriend from a friend in the Army, and his fame reached a level where photographers were snapping pictures at his house as he cried in his father's arms. After his mother's death, he surrounded himself with paid friends because he did not want to be alone, ever. He was hurt, alone, and adrift. He obsessively read religious texts, consulted gurus, and searched for "The Answer" to give his life meaning. He even neglected some of his blockbuster contractual obligations because he was so busy studying. A gospel record finally reignited his passion for music. I was impressed by how sympathetic the book was to Elvis' spiritual quest. A less dignified or compassionate biographer would look at pop culture spirituality as an opportunity to toss a few potshots and snarky comments. But Elvis was sincere, so this biography takes him seriously. Although this book is unbearably sad, there are a few hilarious moments. My favorite was his meeting at the White House with Nixon. The photograph is deservedly infamous, but I didn't know that Elvis set it up as a stop on his one-man officer's-badge-collecting quest (Elvis loved being named honorary Sherrif's deputy in random towns and wanted a federal narcotics officer badge for his collection). Elvis bullied the Secret Service into allowing his friends/bodyguards to tag along and then rummaged through Oval Office desk drawers for nick-nacks they could take back to their wives as gifts. The other great moment is when Elvis saw a fight break out at a gas station and jumped out of his limousine in a sequined jumpsuit and struck a karate pose to intervene. Who knows what kind of hijinks he would have gotten into as a goofy rock star if he wasn't sedated most of the time. It's impossible to pinpoint where you'd have to time travel to alter history and save Elvis. It's not like there was one big decision that went wrong. There wasn't one bad guy that led him astray. He slowly unraveled for twenty years. He had serious emotional needs, had way too much money, was isolated by fame, and was a hypochondriac with an insatiable appetite for medications. If he didn't like what you were saying, you could be banished from his life forever. To be close enough to try to save you, you had to enable him. The touring at the end of his life drained him of his energy but at the same time, his fans were one of the few things that brought him joy. I just wish he had been able to hold on long enough to enjoy a renaissance like Johnny Cash or Roy Orbison. He deserved to be appreciated on his own terms. Great, great book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Still

    One of the most compelling biographies I've ever read. I've been an off-and-on Elvis fan most of my life. Only a fan of the early, young, rocking Elvis ...not the bloated balladeer. This is Guralnick's follow-up to his ground shaking that covers the life of Elvis up to his being drafted by the U. S. Army. I own a copy of the first biography but haven't read it. This book picks up after Elvis is in the Army and stationed in Germany. It's an interesting enough account but what anyone really wants One of the most compelling biographies I've ever read. I've been an off-and-on Elvis fan most of my life. Only a fan of the early, young, rocking Elvis ...not the bloated balladeer. This is Guralnick's follow-up to his ground shaking that covers the life of Elvis up to his being drafted by the U. S. Army. I own a copy of the first biography but haven't read it. This book picks up after Elvis is in the Army and stationed in Germany. It's an interesting enough account but what anyone really wants to read about are the details of his fall from grace. Probably the greatest, most astonishing fall of a stomping Godzilla of a Rock & Roll hero ever recounted. This book is brutally honest about Elvis's countless personal faults, including his sense of making love being nothing more than a kind of infantilism. Elvis preferred "smooching", adolescent-like making out (kissing, fondling, embracing, feeling-up) with a girl rather than doing the old hump-and-get-it-& -get-off. Especially towards the last half of the book, several of Elvis's "girlfriends" complain of his almost sex-less love making. I'm no shrink but some of that was due no doubt to a non-specified psychological hang-up but as Elvis aged further into his late thirties and was reaching deeper into his depthless medicine chest, the lack of sex was due mostly to his pharmacological needs and preferences. The book will depress the hell out of almost anyone -fan or not. He surrounded himself with predatory types, buying the love and allegiance of friends, family, and strangers alike with spur-of-the-moment gifts: sports cars, luxury cars, jewelry, homes and even -at one stage- horses. Almost every friend he ever had was more than happy to prey on Elvis's largesse. I grew up in Memphis in the late 60s. In those days it was impossible to not run into Elvis. Especially when I was a teen in the early '70s. He was everywhere. Always seeking recognition and attention from fans. He loved being idolized. I was also acquainted with the boyfriend of the sister of Elvis's last fiancee. I was hearing some of the stories of Elvis's aberrant behavior while obviously on drugs two years before the publication of . This book reveals more about that era than I ever heard first hand. Say what you will, this book is certainly not stingy with the lurid gossip. It holds up as a chronicle of the life of Elvis Presley from his release from the Army to his humiliating death. It's also the kind of book that if you aren't interested in the minutia, you can just flip through and read of the young Elvis's on-set affairs with his female co-stars or similar show-biz gossip. Recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    Exceedingly well documented and written. A mega star who had incredible talent. It the end, his demons won. Giving away ctars, houses and any big ticket item available, Elvis Presley gifted friends in tandem with the drugs that consumed him, and in the end, led to his death. Women grew weary of the self obsessed, narcissistic little boy, who like Peter Pan, simply refused to grow up. By the time of his death, he was only 42 years old with a bloated body, a voice that could not deliver, and perfor Exceedingly well documented and written. A mega star who had incredible talent. It the end, his demons won. Giving away ctars, houses and any big ticket item available, Elvis Presley gifted friends in tandem with the drugs that consumed him, and in the end, led to his death. Women grew weary of the self obsessed, narcissistic little boy, who like Peter Pan, simply refused to grow up. By the time of his death, he was only 42 years old with a bloated body, a voice that could not deliver, and performances at his shows were mediocre at best. He was a man who thought and acted like a boy. Always craving an entourage that never left him, none of the people who surrounded him could help his addiction to a plethora of drugs. His autopsy showed an enlarged heart, liver damage as well as a painful bowel condition caused by excess drug usage. At the time of his death, at least 14 different drugs were in his body. The amount of codeine was ten times a normally prescribed level. His addiction to quaaludes brought toxic levels to a body that over abused drugs for many years. With all abandonment for caution of how mass consumption of long-term usage of unnecessary medications, doctors freely prescribed drugs in mass quantities to the King of Rock and Roll. No one could stop the train wreck that was Elvis Presley. Three and 1/2 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    Harrowing. That's the best word to describe this brilliant, scrupulously researched biography of the King of Rock and Roll and his descent into lunacy. I've read many rock and roll biographies, mostly to satiate my inexplicable fascination with music and tragedy, and there have been some gems, man: Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin, Ian Curtis, Gene Clark, the list goes on and on. Still, none of those stories came close, remotely, to the tragic downfall of Elvis. Not only was he ten times more famous th Harrowing. That's the best word to describe this brilliant, scrupulously researched biography of the King of Rock and Roll and his descent into lunacy. I've read many rock and roll biographies, mostly to satiate my inexplicable fascination with music and tragedy, and there have been some gems, man: Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin, Ian Curtis, Gene Clark, the list goes on and on. Still, none of those stories came close, remotely, to the tragic downfall of Elvis. Not only was he ten times more famous than the aforementioned, but he was much more disturbed. He was an enigma. A secret, even unto himself. He really had no idea who he was, and it was insanely sad. Never leaving his room, the drugs, his strange fascination with law enforcement badges, the strange childlike manner in which he courted women (well, very young girls), his bursts of primal anger, etc. And still, he seemed like a good man. A lost child swimming in a sea of madness he never really wanted. This is a incisive, chilling portrait of a man who gained and lost everything. Read it. And weep.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    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 r 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alden

    The miracle of Last Train to Memphis, Peter Guralnick's portrait of Elvis Presley's early years, was that it erased the memory of that bloated caricature of a performer who staggered across the stage in Las Vegas and elsewhere in his final years and presented us instead with the exuberant young man of the 1950s who was in the throes of fashioning a new kind of music. Expect no such happy miracle in Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, the second volume in Guralnick's excellent and exhaus The miracle of Last Train to Memphis, Peter Guralnick's portrait of Elvis Presley's early years, was that it erased the memory of that bloated caricature of a performer who staggered across the stage in Las Vegas and elsewhere in his final years and presented us instead with the exuberant young man of the 1950s who was in the throes of fashioning a new kind of music. Expect no such happy miracle in Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, the second volume in Guralnick's excellent and exhaustive biography of the King of Rock and Roll. This book is, as Guralnick himself writes in his opening note, a tragedy. It follows Elvis from his years in the Army in Germany, through his strange, prolonged courtship of Priscilla, his unfulfilling career in the movies, his triumphant return to live performance, his growing isolation and seemingly inexorable decline, and, finally, his death in Memphis in August of 1977. more: http://www.bookpage.com/9901bp/nonfic...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrewh

    The title of the second volume of Peter Guralnick’s biography, Careless Love, could refer to Elvis’ cavalier treatment of women, or equally here to the squandering of his own natural talent. In this telling, the latter is largely down to the exploitative machinations of ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, but also due to his own problems coping with overnight fame and wealth, and the loneliness he experienced. The volume begins with Elvis leaving the Army, where he seems to have been relatively happy, althoug The title of the second volume of Peter Guralnick’s biography, Careless Love, could refer to Elvis’ cavalier treatment of women, or equally here to the squandering of his own natural talent. In this telling, the latter is largely down to the exploitative machinations of ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, but also due to his own problems coping with overnight fame and wealth, and the loneliness he experienced. The volume begins with Elvis leaving the Army, where he seems to have been relatively happy, although that is also where his long addiction to uppers began; these enabled him to party late and to be ‘Elvis Presley’. During this period, as the author tells us in the stupefying detail that blights this volume, Elvis dated many women but then meets air force brat Priscilla (Beau, as was), when she was but 14 years old and is smitten. He is respectful and continues to sleep with other women while chastely ‘courting’ her, which makes for slightly uncomfortable reading in 2020. They eventually marry, in 1964, and have a child, Lisa Marie, shortly after, but he does not take readily to the role of father-husband and continues to do as he pleases, being often away with his entourage on tour or just having fun. Elvis was always surrounded by an entourage of home-town and ex-army buddies (the ‘Memphis Mafia’), who were all fuelled on uppers and who lived off his largesse (he was extremely generous with money and gifts). Meanwhile, the carnival conman Colonel Tom Parker directs Elvis’s career – towards more trashy films, in particular, and fewer records (so as not to flood the market and keep the value high). The films' OSTs actually sold more than Elvis’ ‘real’ LPs, so the Colonel was happy to keep churning these out, at the expense of his musical career or development. The book spends far too much time on recounting the conveyor-belt films made by Elvis in the 60s, mainly with legendary producer Hal Wallis, which nearly all feature exotic scenery and scores of girls, including such classics as Girls! Girls! Girls!, GI Blues, Blue Hawaii, Fun in Acapulco, Kissin Cousins and Roustabout (none of which has the raw energy of earlier efforts like Jailhouse Rock or King Creole). Thanks to the Colonel’s efforts, Elvis would make up to three such films per year. Elvis himself harboured ambitions to be a real actor and would endlessly watch ‘serious’ films in his home cinema, to garner acting tips. Unfortunately, he never fulfilled his ambition to make a serious film, though he is quite decent in Viva Las Vegas and Kid Galahad, I think, and has a certain charm on screen. While making these formulaic films, Elvis’ musical career was mostly stalled but, in 1968, he made a great ‘Comeback’ TV show, and the Colonel secures a lucrative residential spot in Vegas, alongside Frank, Dino and other lounge lizard acts (meanwhile, the Colonel passes his time by gambling away millions of dollars on the roulette tables, bizarrely). Meanwhile, he continues to live on uppers and downers, surrounded by sycophants and dabbling in spiritualism, while practising karate, often on stage (he has several karate coaches, and takes it very seriously). Eventually, Priscilla, bored of being alone and of turning a blind eye to the King’s numerous affairs, runs off with her karate instructor. They finally divorce in 1973 and Elvis seems to lose touch with reality and begins to fall apart, prone to making rambling speeches on stage, falling out with people, and looking unwell. He is ever more reliant on pills, especially Demerol (a painkiller), although he is a registered agent of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (thanks to his surreal meeting with President Nixon), barely sleeps, is bloated and seems depressed and sick of life (‘a walking corpse’ as one person describes him). Elvis’ last few years of life are a litany of illness, chaotic gigs (in which he would often forget the lyrics to his songs), rages and occasional hospitalisations. It is a long downward spiral towards the inevitable end in 1977, a sordid demise that we know is coming from p. 1 but which is still quite shocking. In a telling coda, Guralnick describes how the Colonel refused to look at Elvis’s body and instead waylaid a shocked Vernon Presley to impress upon him the need to continue all financial contracts (with his 50% cut).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This book, along with its preceding volume Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley, make up the best rock & roll biography I’ve ever read. Author Peter Guralnick manages to deftly shape the facts into a compelling story, and rarely gets in the way with his own opinions, except on the occasions when he has to write “and then Elvis did another crappy movie.” And that’s pretty well fact rather than opinion. Admittedly, it’s not a light read. And the latter volume can be pretty tough to get This book, along with its preceding volume Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley, make up the best rock & roll biography I’ve ever read. Author Peter Guralnick manages to deftly shape the facts into a compelling story, and rarely gets in the way with his own opinions, except on the occasions when he has to write “and then Elvis did another crappy movie.” And that’s pretty well fact rather than opinion. Admittedly, it’s not a light read. And the latter volume can be pretty tough to get through, as Elvis slowly disintegrates. But it is American mythology. When a demigod was created in Greek mythology, Zeus had to dress up like a swan or a bull and bang some broad. Not in America. In America, we create our own demigods. And, when we get bored with them, we often tear them down. What Guralnick makes so painfully clear is that Elvis was this guileless white-trash nobody who sir’ed all the right sirs and ma’am’ed all the right ma’ams. His pre-fame idea of a good time was going to see a gospel quartet. And, most amazingly for someone of his time and place, he didn’t have a racist bone in his body. Then we heaped unimaginable fame and fortune upon him. When he broke under all that pressure, we laughed as he fell apart. To coin a phrase from the Stones: “I shouted out ‘Who killed Elvis Presley?’ / When, after all, it was you and me.” I first read this book when it was originally published. I decided to try out the audiobook this time around, read by Kevin Stillwell. He's a pleasant enough reader but, for someone narrating the tale of the King of Rock & Roll, he knows little about the subject. If there's a famous name he can get wrong, he will. But his most embarrassing mistake is when he mentions the classic Ray Charles song "What'd I Say" and calls it "What Did I Say." It's a little like listening to C3PO reciting Eminem lyrics.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    I always loved Elvis' music in the early 70s..... the powerful ballads, the top notch band behind him (that boy can sing!). But, like many fans, I've always been limited by the media and the 'myth' of Elvis. Here's a book that takes you behind the scenes and gives you the real story. Believe it or not, he's an extremely insecure, frail human being. Yes, it's sad in many ways. The drugs, the objectification of women (he didn't respect his marriage at all), the pain from losing his mom, retreating I always loved Elvis' music in the early 70s..... the powerful ballads, the top notch band behind him (that boy can sing!). But, like many fans, I've always been limited by the media and the 'myth' of Elvis. Here's a book that takes you behind the scenes and gives you the real story. Believe it or not, he's an extremely insecure, frail human being. Yes, it's sad in many ways. The drugs, the objectification of women (he didn't respect his marriage at all), the pain from losing his mom, retreating to his room all the time, the Memphis Mafia always hanging around him like puppy dogs waiting for the next car he'd buy them. Elvis had a really good heart and desire to please everyone. Unfortunately, this also made him seem so ill-equipped to handle the pressures of fame. I'm not in any place to judge a man. I have NO CLUE what it's like to be an icon. He cared for people and loved buying stuff for people. But, yikes, he had so much pride. He never let anyone help him, and the power of his empire and place in society allowed him to get away with whatever he wanted. Skip a show? The Colonel (his manager) will explain why. Ditch another recording session? Oh well. In truth, he earned that privilege with his incredible talent, but his pride took him for a ride, and he couldn't stop the downward spiral of self-destruction. I'll always love his music.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    There's a moment from the film Pulp Fiction that ended up on the cutting room floor in which Mia Wallace asks Vincent Vega whether he's an Elvis man or a Beatles man. "You might like both," she tells Vincent, "but you always like one better." I'm a hardcore Beatles fan, but I'm still fascinated by Elvis -- especially the post-GI, bad-movie making, white jump-suited, bloated karate Elvis. And that's why I bypassed completely Last Train to Memphis -- the first book in Guralnick's two-part Elvis bi There's a moment from the film Pulp Fiction that ended up on the cutting room floor in which Mia Wallace asks Vincent Vega whether he's an Elvis man or a Beatles man. "You might like both," she tells Vincent, "but you always like one better." I'm a hardcore Beatles fan, but I'm still fascinated by Elvis -- especially the post-GI, bad-movie making, white jump-suited, bloated karate Elvis. And that's why I bypassed completely Last Train to Memphis -- the first book in Guralnick's two-part Elvis bio, which tells the story of Elvis' meteoric rise -- and headed right for the good stuff. Guralnick tells Elvis' story in a clear-eyed manner, spinning a story that's almost Shakespearian in its tragedy. And it quickly gets ugly, as Elvis corrodes into a lazy, strung-out fat kid, distracted by go-carts, badge collecting, and playing cowboys and Indians with his sycophantic Memphis Mafia, all the while derailing his own career, despite an incredibly forgiving fan base. From one oh-my-gosh, no way! moment to another, Guralnick delivers the goods, careening like a barely-controlled jalopy toward the decidedly non-glamorous ending we all know is coming. Look away? Heck no. Cringe-inducing? Heck yes. Awesome. (Review reprinted from my website at www.brianjayjones.com)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    There is no such word as "unmaking" in the English language. Goldman -- sorry, I mean Guralnick -- is so desperate to absolve Elvis for all responsibility for his own life that he needs to describe the King's ignominious decline as an "unmaking." As if to say that Elvis didn't self-destruct, but was somehow dissolved, or disassembled by forces beyond his control. It's a strange thing to imagine a "hero" as entirely passive and ruled by fate. It implies that you don't really trust the man, or res There is no such word as "unmaking" in the English language. Goldman -- sorry, I mean Guralnick -- is so desperate to absolve Elvis for all responsibility for his own life that he needs to describe the King's ignominious decline as an "unmaking." As if to say that Elvis didn't self-destruct, but was somehow dissolved, or disassembled by forces beyond his control. It's a strange thing to imagine a "hero" as entirely passive and ruled by fate. It implies that you don't really trust the man, or respect him. That you're just covering for him, even after he's dead. And who needs a book like that?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary Karpel-Jergic

    Wow, what a read! This is a tome, and requires a certain amount of commitment and dedication to complete but the journey is a worthwhile one. I am not a particularly big Elvis fan but I read something about the author Peter Guralnick and his attention to detail and accuracy in the portrayal of Elvis that peeked my curiosity into finding out more about this 20th century music icon. Guralnick had written an earlier biography of Elvis but this is the second and deals with his life from when he retu Wow, what a read! This is a tome, and requires a certain amount of commitment and dedication to complete but the journey is a worthwhile one. I am not a particularly big Elvis fan but I read something about the author Peter Guralnick and his attention to detail and accuracy in the portrayal of Elvis that peeked my curiosity into finding out more about this 20th century music icon. Guralnick had written an earlier biography of Elvis but this is the second and deals with his life from when he returns from his stint in Germany whilst in the army up till his untimely death. It has a cast of hundreds, many of whom are difficult to remember and place, especially those of the 1950's and there is too much detail charting the financial details of Presley's and Parker's business deals and splits but that is my only criticism. It is a scholarly book and is keen to be accurate so these details are just part of that package. I am left with an overwhelming sadness after reading this book. Elvis Presley had such potential and was poised for greatness but his deep insecurities seemed to have motivated him to create a parallel world for himself to live in which isolated him from all outside influences that could have helped him to remain a successful performer. It was a shrunken world that he inhabited, a sealed environment that stifled creativity. He surrounded himself with a coterie of people, mainly guys who indulged his every whim for both the fun of it and for the financial rewards that rewarded them for their complete loyalty. Family and friends were forced to display sycophantic behaviour, to do otherwise would incur ostracism or ridicule. Along with this was a stream of young beautiful women only too happy to be his escort/girlfriend for the night or longer. Whoever joined this group, all had to change their sleeping habits and exchange day for night. He was generous to a fault and this caused lots of jealousies amongst the group. If he gave one person something, he needed to give something to everyone. From reading this book you get the sense of the entourage that was formed around him and the fuzzy relationships that were navigated between being friend, family, and employee. Elvis Presley was a cash cow for so many people and unfortunately, in the end this was what he seemingly felt of himself. This book goes behind the myth of Elvis Presley so there is a much clearer understanding of the complicated relationship that evolved between him and his manager Colonel Parker. Colonel Parker was without doubt an astute business man who conducted himself and his business in a unique way. "How was it that this clownish figure, whom they were perfectly prepared to patronise for his lack of polish and lack of manners, always acted as if he held all the cards, even if they were looking at four aces?" Presley's and Parker's individual backgrounds and personalities effected a synergy that is understandable but fraught with contradictions and complexities. Parker kept the business going and ensured that the dollars flowed but it may have been a very high price for Elvis to pay. Elvis' potential may have been eclipsed eventually by the colonel's relentless pursuit of financial deals. I get a sense that Elvis never fully developed into a man. He remained an insecure boy, afraid of the dark but owner of an amazing talent and ability to charm people. The empire he created with all its wealth and privilege did nothing to assuage his inner emptiness. Prescription drugs provided him with something only he could understand. It was a hugely destructive choice and in the end forced him to become a ridiculous caricature of himself "the living legend is fat and ludicrously aping his former self..." He just seemed to "run out of gas". of course, ultimately the drugs killed him. It is such a shame. At one time he was "a champion, the only one in his class". A few years before his death he summed up how difficult it was to be Elvis Presley. He told a reporter "Well the image is one thing and the human being another... it's very hard to live up to an image."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    In this second volume about Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, the author relates Presley's time in Germany as an enlisted man in the US Army, his introduction to Amphetamines, courting of a 14 year old Priscilla and eventual marriage to her, his growing addiction to pills of various types, his fawning sycophantic entourage, his decade of soul destroying performances in C-grade movies, his surprise 1968 comeback, his bizarre spending sprees, and his various relationships with women. This is the In this second volume about Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, the author relates Presley's time in Germany as an enlisted man in the US Army, his introduction to Amphetamines, courting of a 14 year old Priscilla and eventual marriage to her, his growing addiction to pills of various types, his fawning sycophantic entourage, his decade of soul destroying performances in C-grade movies, his surprise 1968 comeback, his bizarre spending sprees, and his various relationships with women. This is the really sad biography of an immature man who built an insular environment around himself, reinforced by an entourage completely reliant on his largesse. A mamma’s boy who never really recovered from his mother's death and who was incapable of having a mature relationship with women. It's also the biography of a tremendously gifted interpreter of other writers songs, and a man who though he never toured outside the USA became an international star, beloved by millions. I recommend this as essential reading to anyone interested in Elvis Presley, music in the 50's-70's or the cost of success in the entertainment industry in America. 4 stars from this reader.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Priscilla Heard

    Elvis Presley was an interesting man whom wanted love and friendship, yet felt that showering gifts upon people would win him their affection and loyalty which in many cases would backfire on him. He was sensitive and kind but also hot-tempered and cruel at the same time and his behavior would end up pushing away many people who genuinely cared for him. I was shocked to find out how he treated women, especially Priscilla and wondered why he could never find satisfaction and comfort in just being Elvis Presley was an interesting man whom wanted love and friendship, yet felt that showering gifts upon people would win him their affection and loyalty which in many cases would backfire on him. He was sensitive and kind but also hot-tempered and cruel at the same time and his behavior would end up pushing away many people who genuinely cared for him. I was shocked to find out how he treated women, especially Priscilla and wondered why he could never find satisfaction and comfort in just being with someone who loved him instead of looking for it in all the wrong places. I read this book to find out more about his personal life instead of his music career and was surprised to find out many details. It was nice to find rumors of him being a racist debunked and I wondered how they could even have started. I thought that his desire to be a DEA agent or policeman was interesting considering his favorite pastime as a serious drug addict. I just wish that he could have gotten help for his drug dependency because he could have done so much more with his life.

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Ward

    Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presleyby Peter Guralnick (Back Bay Books 1999) (780.92) (3505).This book represents the second installment in the author's biography of Elvis Presley. It picks up with Elvis in the US Army serving his hitch, and it concludes with Elvis dead on the bathroom floor of Graceland, face down in a puddle of vomit with his pajamas bunched around his ankles.Elvis lived every junkie's dream. Elvis kept a copy of the Physician's Desk Reference (the encyclopedia of drug Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presleyby Peter Guralnick (Back Bay Books 1999) (780.92) (3505).This book represents the second installment in the author's biography of Elvis Presley. It picks up with Elvis in the US Army serving his hitch, and it concludes with Elvis dead on the bathroom floor of Graceland, face down in a puddle of vomit with his pajamas bunched around his ankles.Elvis lived every junkie's dream. Elvis kept a copy of the Physician's Desk Reference (the encyclopedia of drugs and medicines) by his bedside to select any drugs he wished to try, and he had a personal doctor at his beck and call to fill any prescription that Elvis' little heart desired.And it killed him.If that's not a cautionary tale, then I've never heard one.Ironically, Elvis did not consider himself a drug addict or even a drug user. In Elvis' world, the fact that a physician was the source of Elvis' dope supply meant that Elvis was not taking dope or drugs, he was taking medications.Aha! Do you see the difference? In Elvis' mind, he could not possibly have been taking dope, for (1) his medications had been supplied by a physician, and (2) Elvis did not use needles to inject himself. Elvis may have taken pounds of narcotic compounds per day, but he would have argued until his last breath that he was not an addict, for Elvis did not inject himself. Only Elvis' medical providers used needles; in Elvis' world, if a person did not personally inject himself with drugs, then he could not by definition be a drug addict.As they said in the Sixties, “Stay away from needle drugs. The only dope worth shooting is Nixon.”My rating: 7/10, finished 2/6/21 (3505).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex Macon

    A profound read, regardless of your level of prior interest in Elvis. You should be interested in Elvis, though. He contains multitudes, including everything great and awful about American culture, from the multicultural vernacular music he loved and championed and the sense of freedom and yearning he embodied early in his career--to the bloat and commodification and desperate casting about for meaning that defined his long, sad decline. But this book's not about the symbol, it's about the man, a A profound read, regardless of your level of prior interest in Elvis. You should be interested in Elvis, though. He contains multitudes, including everything great and awful about American culture, from the multicultural vernacular music he loved and championed and the sense of freedom and yearning he embodied early in his career--to the bloat and commodification and desperate casting about for meaning that defined his long, sad decline. But this book's not about the symbol, it's about the man, and Guralnick's greatest strength as a biographer is that he takes Elvis for who he is as both an artist and a human being. That's easier to do in the early going--the charismatic loner at the forefront of a cultural sea change--than it is in the later days, when Elvis became a caricature of himself, ruined by drugs and fame and his own naivety. (To be clear, both the charming and not-so-charming details are all here: The surreal story of Elvis willing himself into the Oval Office to meet Nixon is a standout.) Elvis' life is maybe correctly thought of as the stuff of Great American Tragedy. But Guralnick's right to, in the end, bring it back to the music. That's what matters, and that's what will last.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brettsinclair70

    Flying to Denver to get a cheeseburger. Sad as anything..

  20. 4 out of 5

    James Birch

    Fascinating look at the pioneer of ultra celebrity status and the template for the rise and fall of celebrity royalty.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book is meticulously researched and executed, it's just horribly, horribly sad. This book is meticulously researched and executed, it's just horribly, horribly sad.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barnaby Taylor

    I am a big fan of Peter Guralnick and find his meticulous approach something to really admire. There is such tragedy to the story of Elvis's final years and Guralnick is able to perfectly capture this without holding back. I am a big fan of Peter Guralnick and find his meticulous approach something to really admire. There is such tragedy to the story of Elvis's final years and Guralnick is able to perfectly capture this without holding back.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Cash

    Coming off of the triumphant Last Train to Memphis I was incredibly eager to devour this book as well, knowing full well its tragic nature. As a pre-teen I became obsessed with Elvis. I read a couple biographies, and studied just about as much as I could have at that age, to the point that I was quite familiar with the general details of this story beforehand, unlike the early years chronicled in the previous entry. What I did not know was if there was any specific reason why Elvis became so art Coming off of the triumphant Last Train to Memphis I was incredibly eager to devour this book as well, knowing full well its tragic nature. As a pre-teen I became obsessed with Elvis. I read a couple biographies, and studied just about as much as I could have at that age, to the point that I was quite familiar with the general details of this story beforehand, unlike the early years chronicled in the previous entry. What I did not know was if there was any specific reason why Elvis became so artistically listless after Elvis is Back! It's been a conundrum that has puzzled me for years. Why would a performer as original, brilliant, enthralling, and vibrant as Elvis Presley so quickly fizzle out into a joke? Why was there no urge to create something of worth? As a young man with no experience as a famous musician, I really don't know what makes so many performers stop worrying about the music. Sure, you can say it's the hedonistic pursuits, but is that really enough for someone to utterly disregard any artistic standards? I don't believe I will ever understand why Elvis never got off his butt somewhere at least in the mid 60's and decided he was going to quit that movie crap and make good music again. He could have easily gotten together a session in Nashville, found some solid songs he wanted to try, and I assure you even if it wasn't as good as Elvis Is Back! it would be considered essential listening instead of something like Clambake. I essentially spent the entirety of this book hoping the story wasn't going where I knew it was going, rooting for Elvis at every step of the way to change the road he was on. Usually I don't care much what a man does in his life as it relates to his art. If he produces quality art, I will focus on the art rather than the man behind it. The case of Elvis is different to me because there was so much potential for great art that was shamefully squandered due to his inept life choices. This actually makes me very mad, because I fervently love Elvis, and to see him toss away such a gift from God is truly tragic. I'm also mad because he never really had the chance for a true redemption to the public. I believe he was redeemed in the eyes of the Lord for sure, but I only wish he could have enjoyed the kind of comeback that Johnny Cash or Roy Orbison did so he could leave a more respectable legacy. I know the opinion of the public doesn't really matter and it will fade away soon enough, but it just makes me furious that people refuse to see the awe-inducing power Elvis had musically and instead focus on his sordid end. If he had had some kind of a late career renaissance with a fantastic producer at the helm I believe more people would speak of him in the same tone of respect as they do for Johnny Cash. Cash too had many dark periods of his life like Elvis, and a large chunk of his career was spent making garbage as well. Despite this, no one would ever wrinkle their face at the thought of Johnny Cash and start complaining about his awful 70's-80's albums. They focus on his creative peaks, just like we should do for the King. Elvis impersonators certainly don't help this problem, but that's a different topic. Guralnick did the best job he could possibly do writing this book, and I appreciate his respectful tone and hyperbole-free style. I would say if you want to try to make more sense of Elvis's post army career that this is the best place to do it. It really creates what appears to be a well-rounded (fat-Elvis joke unintended) portrait suitable for becoming more informed concerning his life at this time. It's not gossipy, weepy, hero-worshiping, or uninteresting, it's really a true study in who Elvis was and why he became the way he did. There are no answers spelled out for the reader, and there will probably never be full answers this side of paradise. I look forward to the day I'll meet Elvis in his full glory, we'll sing all our favorite spirituals together, and this sorry shadow of a man will be an ancient forgotten whisper.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schwensen

    The American Dream Turns Into An American Tragedy The second part of this two volume definitive look at the life of Elvis Presley slams the brakes on one of the most famous and notorious tales of living The American Dream. Whereas the author's earlier book, Last Train to Memphis, brought home the story of a young boy from a poor family who was blessed with unnatural talent and timing rising almost overnight to unimaginable heights of fame and fortune, Careless Love details his tragic end. A creat The American Dream Turns Into An American Tragedy The second part of this two volume definitive look at the life of Elvis Presley slams the brakes on one of the most famous and notorious tales of living The American Dream. Whereas the author's earlier book, Last Train to Memphis, brought home the story of a young boy from a poor family who was blessed with unnatural talent and timing rising almost overnight to unimaginable heights of fame and fortune, Careless Love details his tragic end. A creature of habit and familiar surroundings, the outside world becomes his playground while his inner self struggles to make sense of it all through spirituality, a series of isolating "yes" men and women, and drugs. In hindsight Elvis' downfall is almost as sudden as his rise and the author once again does a masterful job of researching and writing every detail. We all know what's coming at the end, just as we did watching the film Titanic, but like all great true stories the reader's interest is held not by what happened - but how. The pieces begin falling into place during his stint in the Army while stationed in Germany. He's introduced to drugs that will keep him awake on duty and to his future wife, 14 year old Priscilla Beaulieu. It continues through a string of Hollywood B-movies, numerous affairs and an immature lifestyle of "horsing around" supported by the guys now universally known as The Memphis Mafia. As long as they don't say "no" Elvis remains forever young and they remain on the payroll. There are many highlights such as his legendary "come back" television special, return to live shows in Las Vegas and the first worldwide concert broadcast, Aloha From Hawaii. But after that it rapidly all goes downhill. The American Dream becomes An American Tragedy and held this reviewer in its grip until the bitter end. If I were to throw in any minor criticism toward this book it would concern keeping track of everyone involved. This is not the writer's fault. The small world Elvis inhabited in the first volume simply explodes in Careless Love and the girls, guys, musicians, directors, producers, promoters, actors and actresses, songwriters and countless others enter, exit, return and exit again throughout. The end of his life was a series of tours, excess spending and drug-induced behavior. It's a lot to read about and as this book describes, impossible to live. Elvis was much more than the overweight, bloated and almost comatose performer he had become by the end of his career. Last Train to Memphis proves that to anyone, while Careless Love confirms it. I highly recommend both - in the order they were meant to be read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    MentorPublicLibrary

    This was an excellent although incredibly sad book on the second half of The King's life. It covers his time in the army through his drug-filled decline and death. Guralnick's strength is in his evenhanded approach to Presley's life. He does not judge or condemn, nor idolize Elvis, rather simply reports on his research and thousands of interviews with those that knew Elvis, in an easily readable manner. It's a long book for sure, nearly 800 pages, but well worth the read for those true Elvis fan This was an excellent although incredibly sad book on the second half of The King's life. It covers his time in the army through his drug-filled decline and death. Guralnick's strength is in his evenhanded approach to Presley's life. He does not judge or condemn, nor idolize Elvis, rather simply reports on his research and thousands of interviews with those that knew Elvis, in an easily readable manner. It's a long book for sure, nearly 800 pages, but well worth the read for those true Elvis fans who want to know the King, warts and all. His was a sad story that many celebrities live, caught up in the life filled with hangers-on and never achieving what he himself wanted to do in life. Although arguably the biggest name in rock and roll, Presley wanted to do more than the goofy movies and lovey-dovey songs, but Presley's manager, Colonel Parker, who had an almost godlike hold on Elvis, always steered him to the easy money deals, and since Parker had kept Elvis popular during his time in the army, Elvis believed Parker knew best. While reading Careless Love, I felt so bad for Elvis. He was certainly fallible and given to excess in drugs and women, but deep down seemed like a good human being. He went through a time of intense spirituality only to have it thwarted by Parker. His fear of not being relevent in society drove him to the prescription drugs he had discovered in the army. His loss of his beloved mother seemed to leave him without a guide. Near the end it seemed like his advisors and friends were literally just pushing him onto the stage, full of his uppers, then would yank him off the stage and fill him with a bunch of downers and move on to the next show. There are two very different Elvises, the one in some instances swearing at fans in a drunken stupor at concerts, or the one in which little Lisa Marie is knocking at his bedroom door asking to see him, as he sits on the other side in his blacked out room, shades drawn and duct taped shut,refusing to see anyone, and then there is the Elvis who freely gives cars to strangers, money to endless charities, and wooes the fans, understanding that he is their escape from their reality, and vowing to give them his best show. Read this book to get to know the complex human being that was Elvis Presley.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    I had always casually enjoyed Elvis' music, but it wasn't until I heard his soulful recording of "My Happiness" that I became intrigued by the legend - particularly considering that was the very first song he had ever recorded (as a gift for his mom). Even on his classic "Love me Tender", how delicate yet rich his voice and delivery! So, picking up this esteemed two-volume bio by Guralnick, I knew to expect that it ends badly because, of course, Elvis' sordid death is well-known American pop cul I had always casually enjoyed Elvis' music, but it wasn't until I heard his soulful recording of "My Happiness" that I became intrigued by the legend - particularly considering that was the very first song he had ever recorded (as a gift for his mom). Even on his classic "Love me Tender", how delicate yet rich his voice and delivery! So, picking up this esteemed two-volume bio by Guralnick, I knew to expect that it ends badly because, of course, Elvis' sordid death is well-known American pop culture mythology. But I wasn't prepared for quite know how sad and pathetic the end really was, with the discovery of him on the bathroom floor making me tear up. Not that Elvis didn't play the biggest role in his "unmaking", but it certainly seems as though it was all too much for him. He was a good and extraordinarily gifted man with the boogie deep down in his bones, but his appetite for love, care, food, women, and escape knew no boundaries. And the extent to which his life and death foreshadows the life and death of that other beloved and iconic American pop star (whom his daughter was briefly married to) is absolutely eerie. It does seem that the betrayal by his two close friends at the very end of his life cut deep. Strangely enough, after the story was over, what I felt most was a desire to have known him - not, of course, to get one of the many Cadillacs he would give away, but because it seems as though what he really needed was friendship that wasn't bought or self-interested. I couldn't help but repeatedly think that "Careless Love" was really such a well-suited and poetic title to this second half of his life story because it perfectly sums up the gulf between what was sorely needed and how it was cheaply meted out. Even with such an expert rendering of his life, who knows what he truly was like in real life, and what would have happened had he lived. Thankfully, his voice and his music endure, as do all those photos of a young and beautiful man about to change the world. http://lightbox.time.com/2013/03/05/e...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul Lyons

    Solid, well-researched follow-up to Peter Guralinick's first book on Elvis Presley "Last Train To Memphis." Whereas that book covered Elvis's rise to fame and fortune from 1931-1958, "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley" covers the last 19 years of Elvis's life: 1958-1977. Its a long, sad story, and the good news is that the author leaves few stones unturned in his exploration of Elvis Presley's later years and decline. The bad news is that quality of Peter Guralnick's storytelling stil Solid, well-researched follow-up to Peter Guralinick's first book on Elvis Presley "Last Train To Memphis." Whereas that book covered Elvis's rise to fame and fortune from 1931-1958, "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley" covers the last 19 years of Elvis's life: 1958-1977. Its a long, sad story, and the good news is that the author leaves few stones unturned in his exploration of Elvis Presley's later years and decline. The bad news is that quality of Peter Guralnick's storytelling still treads on research over writing, and minutiae over storytelling. On a positive front, the author chronicles the life of Elvis Presley with quotes and anecdotes from hundreds of people who knew, worked for, dated, or had encounters with Elvis. Peter Guralnick takes the reader through nineteen years of music, Memphis Mafia and movies, Colonel Tom Parker, countless women, marriage, drugs, politics, guns, cars, houses, recording studios, television specials, gurus, Las Vegas, concerts, concert tours after concert tour. It is a long, arduous journey, with occasional success and jubilation in between. The author paints a detailed picture of a talented artist with superhuman charm, charisma and talent, yet also a troubled, lonely, misguided soul who lost his way without ever realizing it, and never found his way back. From what is presented in "Careless Love," Elvis Presley's downward spiral began when his mother Gladys died in 1958, and plummeted when Presley enlisted in the army later that same year. The army introduced Elvis to his first drugs (amphetamines) and life-long pals who became both part of the Memphis Mafia, and also an addition to his ever-expanding payroll. The majority of Elvis's personal friends were also his employees, a choice Elvis made as a young man when he first started going on the road to play concerts. Worse, even his own family was on the payroll, by choice. Elvis set-up his life the way he thought it should be. He led an insular life with his mother and father as a child, and continued to live in a self-created bubble as an adult. An only child growing up, Elvis did everything in his power to not be alone for the rest of his life. His friends-employees were at his beck and call, and he rarely ever traveled alone. With increasing success, and increasing money, Elvis crafted a world where he was King, and everyone around him had to serve the King's wishes, or go home. Men and women were there to serve the King, and the King could do whatever he wanted. Men were there to serve, women were there to take care of him, or amuse and satisfy him. That Elvis Presley was beloved by women is a known, and undisputed fact. What is less known, is how Elvis viewed the opposite sex. His mother Gladys was everything to Elvis, she was a pure, sexless, nurturing woman whose world revolved around Elvis. For the rest of Elvis's life, all he seemed to want was another Gladys...another woman whose world revolved around Elvis, and who loved him unconditionally, who would bear his children and allow Elvis to do whatever he wanted, and be with as many women as he wanted. Unfortunately, there was only one Gladys, and all other women had needs, wants, and even a career of their own. It was only natural that Elvis would meet and marry virginal Priscilla Beaulieu within a seven year span, only to sexually abandon her the second she got pregnant. Elvis Presley lived by his own rules, and expected everyone else to fall in line. Success, and the sycophants he surrounded himself with at an early age, prevented him from developing a healthy psychology to endure the massive adulation he received. Before Elvis had a chance to mature and grow, he became a cultural icon, a hero among both men and women. As a result, Elvis never matured, he stayed forever stuck at age 19 or 20, staying up all night with his friends, partying with women, and sleeping all day. He was forever the petulant teenager, proclaiming that no matter what anybody said, he knew what he was doing. Didn't matter that his ego-driven hubris led to a failed marriage, dysfunctional relationships, a circle of mistrust, drug overdoses and a number of trips to the hospital, Elvis was fixed in his thoughts that he was right. To think what Elvis Presley could have been had his perceptions and predictions been different...had he committed his life more into being an artist, and less into hanging around his mafia. The tragedy, among many other things, is that had Elvis fully applied himself, he could have written great songs, learned to be a top musician, and studied to be a great actor. Elvis had the talent for all of those things, in addition to being a great singer. Had had Elvis fully applied himself, he would have taken a more active role in his career, instead of just following Colonel Tom Parker's lead all of the time. The Colonel lead Elvis right, until he didnt. As much as I appreciated "Careless Love" and Peter Guralnick tireless research, I found myself having the same issue as I had with his previous Elvis book "Last Train to Memphis." The author chronicles events in Elvis Presley's life as a "this happened, and then this happened" etc...creating a fixed, and dull structure, rarely going into too much depth on say this movie, or that song. Worse, I was dismayed that Guralnick's reporting of events sometimes veered towards the subjective, as his harsh words towards the compelling 1961 Elvis film WILD IN THE COUNTRY, or his listing of a 1970's concert as disastrous, while the recording of the concert says otherwise. There is nothing wrong with expressing an opinion. What is wrong is expressing a subjective opinion as objective fact. I was dismayed that the author failed to include an afterward, or epilogue. Considering that "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley" is the finale of a two-book series, the least the author could do was offer up a respectable and considerate conclusion to the epic story he tried to tell. Instead, Guralnick throws in an unsatisfying, anti-climatic final paragraph shortly after chronicling Elvis Presley's 1977 death. Would love to have known, for example, what happened in the years after Elvis's death with his Elvis's family, and friends, and what happened to the Colonel. The author seemed more enamored with Colonel Tom Parker than with anyone else in the book. Why not discuss what happened to Colonel Tom Parker, as well as Priscilla, and Lisa Marie Presley as they lived on through the years? Despite my problems with Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley," I did indeed get something out of it, for what it was. I may not have cared for Peter Guralnick's storytelling, and his penchant for dwelling on financial contracts in detail. Yet, the author did provide a solid springboard to for me to explore the life and music Elvis even further, and it enhanced my previous interest and love for all things Elvis Presley.

  28. 5 out of 5

    5 Track

    Less enjoyable than part 1, but no less well researched. If there is a flaw, it's just that there was so much information to convey that readability got sacrificed. This is understandable & forgivable. And then again, this part of the story is a tragedy. This could have been a treatise on what not to do, perhaps useful for the idols of today... But really, there is no time in this book to examine it so any instruction must be found between the lines & can be at best mere 2nd guessing. Elvis dream Less enjoyable than part 1, but no less well researched. If there is a flaw, it's just that there was so much information to convey that readability got sacrificed. This is understandable & forgivable. And then again, this part of the story is a tragedy. This could have been a treatise on what not to do, perhaps useful for the idols of today... But really, there is no time in this book to examine it so any instruction must be found between the lines & can be at best mere 2nd guessing. Elvis dreams repeatedly, what he calls a 'nightmare', that he woke up one morning & his fans had deserted him & all his everything had gone away forever, but I found myself wondering if that was in fact his unconscious mind pleading with him, telling him "This is what you have to do if you want to live or ever again find a quantum of solace, you have to make it all disappear". But his ambition and his what-they-call poverty mentality meant he could never accept that. He was strong enough to fight himself to a draw, but not strong enough to win. Artistically there are bright points, from the 68 comeback special through the 1970 Vegas era with that amazing band featuring James Burton, Ronnie Tutt etc. The changes in his voice, stage presence, choice of material, all these are addressed fleetingly as the mountain of data surges past & eventually overwhelms both author & subject. But ultimately this is a death march, an inexorable descent into madness, pain & early demise. I found myself wanting to reach in & say to him what no one else would: You don't need this, any of it, not the movies & not all these people & cars, all you need is the music & you'll be okay!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    Heartbreakingly detailed and comprehensive. I won't lie: it made me tear up. I'm a life-long Elvis fan and this book dispels some common Elvis myths. I was surprised by Guralnick's fairly even-handed take on (the usually demonized) Colonel Parker. At least Parker seemed to see Elvis' value and want him to be financially successful and pushed for bigger and better venues, like his initial plan to have Elvis pioneer pay-per-view concerts, even as he racked up huge fees on his own side of various d Heartbreakingly detailed and comprehensive. I won't lie: it made me tear up. I'm a life-long Elvis fan and this book dispels some common Elvis myths. I was surprised by Guralnick's fairly even-handed take on (the usually demonized) Colonel Parker. At least Parker seemed to see Elvis' value and want him to be financially successful and pushed for bigger and better venues, like his initial plan to have Elvis pioneer pay-per-view concerts, even as he racked up huge fees on his own side of various deals. The Memphis Mafia, on the other hand, come off as petty, greedy, and jealous, by and large--like a harem, in terms of backstabbing and jockeying for attention. There's something especially toxic about that kind of celebrity entourage--it reminds me of Sinatra's rowdy crew in Guy Talese's 60s profile, "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold," or even that 2012 GQ profile of Justin Bieber*--the star is surrounded by paid sycophants who assure him that everything he does is just wonderful, no matter how awful and sad, and by the way, the custom car is here, boss, please be distracted for a minute and can I borrow some money? In turn, the star becomes paranoid and alternates between generosity and cruelty. Really tragic. Ultimately, Elvis' story ends sadly--in failing health and terrible loneliness. This is a necessary biography, but not a fun read. *Except Elvis never called himself a "swaggy bro," thank God.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peter Landau

    This, the second and last volume in a two-book set chronicling the life of Elvis Presley by the great writer Peter Guralnick, focuses on the post-military career of the King. It's the Fat Elvis, the one we joke about, the caricature paraded through the schlock films of the 1960s and Las Vegas jumpsuits of the 1970s. We know how it ends, on a black toilet in a face full of vomit, dead at 42 in Graceland, his Memphis home, the city named after the Egyptian site of the pyramids of Saqqara and Giza This, the second and last volume in a two-book set chronicling the life of Elvis Presley by the great writer Peter Guralnick, focuses on the post-military career of the King. It's the Fat Elvis, the one we joke about, the caricature paraded through the schlock films of the 1960s and Las Vegas jumpsuits of the 1970s. We know how it ends, on a black toilet in a face full of vomit, dead at 42 in Graceland, his Memphis home, the city named after the Egyptian site of the pyramids of Saqqara and Giza and the Sphinx. Guralnick's achievement is making this cartoon human, even more than that, vital. He rightly sets Presley in his proper place in history and not only acknowledges his genius, but convinces readers of his conclusion. And as he details the slow decline from drug abuse, introduced in the Army and spiralling into dependency, addiction and denial (Elvis claimed to get acupuncture treatments by syringe), there is a sense of tragedy. His sad end is all the more poignant because of its inevitability. The loss is felt on a personal level after living the thousand-plus pages of the two-volume bio. In charting the trajectory of Elvis' rise and fall, Guralnick has told a story larger than even the largest of America's superstars, but a story about America itself.

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