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Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
Peter Guralnick’s “Last Train to Memphis” covers the first twenty-four years of the life of Elvis Presley. Most biographies concerning Elvis are a bit hyperbole but not this one. The author’s style is understated allowing the true Elvis to emerge. The author lays aside the myths we have all come to believe; instead we meet the young Elvis as a truly nice guy, with deep religious convictions and a passion for music. The reader will feel a sense of compassion for young Elvis the teen that didn’t seem to fit in. The relationship between Elvis and his mother Gladys was a strong one. She loved him strongly and Elvis not only loved her but respected her. Sam Phillips and the culture of the city of Memphis, TN, were deep influences on Elvis’ sound. The Elvis we meet in “Last Train to Memphis” is one of contradictions. He was insecure and yet knew he was special.
Peter Guralnick spent years in research for this book and it shows. I have long been an Elvis fan. “Last Train to Memphis” is a fan’s dream biography for it introduces the reader to the real Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley was more than a voice and a leg that couldn’t stay still; as a young man he was a loner; inside he was a compassionate, generous, and kind man. Elvis was and is the King!