Recommended Reads: ‘Last Train to Memphis’ traces life of Elvis Presley

last train to memphisBy Wendy Kendall
“Last Train to Memphis – The Rise of Elvis Presley” by Peter Guralnik

I’m All Shook Up after reading this comprehensive biography about the rise of a young Elvis Presley. The writing is so vivid and the details so compelling, the character of Elvis and those around him really come to life. As I was reading, I felt like I was in that time and place. The young Elvis is an awkward and innocent young man from an impoverished childhood, who loves music. He holds an unwavering inner conviction that he is meant for something special in life.

Elvis was not an overnight success, and this read shows that persistence brings happy results. It was a narrow route to success in the entertainment industry during that era. The key was appearing on one of the three TV networks. Getting discovered by a network took hundreds of road appearances and luck. That path was traveled by many other struggling musicians and entertainers too, some who also enjoyed later success. The author interjects some highlights of their interesting stories too, as they cross Elvis’ path.

It was heartening to read personal incidents demonstrating Elvis’ sincere appreciation to his fans for his success. There are beautiful passages describing the love and loyalty he showed for his family and his friends. As a very young man, the author reveals the natural bonds that formed between Elvis and the buddies he’d hang out with. These are the same people who later in life became the impenetrable entourage surrounding him. In this book you’ll also read how the seeds were planted for the oversight of Elvis’ business by the Colonel.

Take your time over this story of a young man pursuing his dreams. Savor the author’s extensive research about the period, and about young Elvis and the people who surround him. Expand your brain with lots of trivia details — did you ever wonder how much Elvis paid for Graceland? $105,000.00! This detailed book begins its story in Tupelo, Miss. with Elvis as a very young child, and ends as he leaves for his Army tour of duty in Germany.

And thereby hangs a tale . . .

wendy kendallWendy Kendall is a writer, project manager, wedding officiant and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. She’s enjoyed living in Edmonds for over 20 years.

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