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Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley
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Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (Elvis #2)

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,675 ratings  ·  150 reviews
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
Paperback, 768 pages
Published February 10th 2000 by Back Bay Books (first published January 1st 1999)
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Jun 10, 2007 Msmeemee rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: elvis fans and people who like being depressed
Shelves: biographies
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
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 ...more
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
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
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
Priscilla Heard
Elvis Presley was an interesting man who 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 ...more
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. Elv
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
Just imagine what Elvis could have been were he not kept tucked away behind his phalanx of cronies and kept in thrall to the stunted Col. Parker. I feel as if maybe E never got to grow up, and even though a lot of his actions and products are tasteless and embarrassing he's a great figure, nevertheless.
Sep 05, 2008 Kent rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all of my friends
The story of Elvis is so much sadder and stranger than I could ever have imagined, in spite of the calm, compassionate, and amazingly thorough nature of Guralnick's telling.
Careless Love is the second volume of Peter Guralnick's biography of Elvis Presley, and it's a compelling and emotional read. While doing a masterful job of letting the reader inhabit the day-to-day life of an icon behind the scenes, Guralnick's prose is transcendent and physical in describing Elvis' music, his concerts, and his sessions in the recording booth, and renders those scenarios in a deeply effective and compulsively readable manner. To be sure, Elvis' life ended in a truncated tragedy ...more
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 ...more
At little more than 1,100 pages, Peter Guralnick's two-volume biography of Elvis Presley (first volume, "Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley") is in a word, comprehensive.
"Last Train to Memphis" is a great ride as Guralnick maps out Elvis' childhood, the influence of African-American gospel music in the Deep South and his love of music of virtually all genres. Unfamiliar with the details of his life and never having owned an Elvis recording, I couldn't help cheering on this poor bo
Sasha Enge
I loved this series! (2 books) It totally made me understand everything that is Elvis. I also found it very sad as, you can almost pinpoint the moments when Elvis just took the wrong forks in the road. You can see the places where if only he could have made a change he might still be here with as today. Such a sad ending for this amazing man. He started out so well, on such a eventful road to success only to self destruct himself and literally have surrounded himself with no one who really gave ...more
Brandon O'Neill
The 2nd part of a massive Elvis bio. Still very detailed, but I liked this volume better, maybe because I was more familiar with this time. This volume covers the army years (where he 1st started pills) until his death in 1977. I initially didn't like Elvis as much, but then thought, if someone reported on your every angry outburst or comment you made, everyone would look bad. On balance, he did love performing and his fans. Even after death, his father made his body available to fans to see at ...more

This biography takes up basically the second half of Elvis’ life from the time he left the Army around 1958. The author had written the earlier years version also but I had not read it yet. It would certainly have filled in much needed info as at this point his mother had passed on and was under the management of the colonel all ready. Elvis is shown here as the great talent surrounded my many that would be there for him but also serve as enablers and dependents on his fame and wealth. The drug
This book is amazing. There are so many thoughts that I have right now about this book and I don't think that I will be able to articulate them. I will say that even if you are not an Elvis fan you will love this book. It is one of the saddest things that I have read in a long time. To me it seemed like he just wanted it to be over. He was tired of being everything to everyone. He didn't even know who he was anymore. There is plenty of blame to go around and Elvis is not completely innocent eith ...more
M. Milner
The last years of Elvis are the kind of thing everyone has some idea about, even if it's only half-formed by rumour and stereotype. He was fat; he ate pills with the same energy he ate fried peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches; he starred in a bunch of forgettable movies, shot out TVs and died on the toilet. There's some truth to all of those, but what I got from Peter Guralnick's Careless Love is how sad the whole events were. And not for the usually-listed reasons

The Elvis that comes through i
I finally finished Part II of Gurlanick's detailed (nearing exhaustive) biography on The King. As whirlwind as Elvis' rise to fame was, the chronicle of his downward spiral is something akin to a slow moving train wreck with infinite chances for the possibility of aversion of disaster.

The faithful representation of Presley's bizarre sexual peccadilloes (we all know about his penchant for watching girls in white panties wrestle),obsession with law enforcement and the 'war on drugs' (at odds with
A unapologetic look at Elvis for the second half of his life, written seemingly without an agenda. You see the weaknesses and the strengths of the man; Guralnick doesn't paint a rosy picture, but he doesn't go out of his way to kick Elvis when he's down. Probably the most balanced version of Elvis's life story that I've read. The end will always be so tragically sad, no matter who the author is, and that's why the book gets 4 stars instead of 5. Guralnick ended the book with respect and with a t ...more
I loved this book, but I don't recommend it for anyone who is not an Elvis fan. It is a sad book because it tells the truth. The seeds of his destruction were planted very early - I didn't know that he had acquired a taste for uppers in the Army, in his early 20's. The book also points toward a bipolar diagnosis for Elvis that he essentially self-medicated to death. What is truly saddening is that he was determined to drive himself to an early grave, and that people didn't intervene in the way t ...more
Aug 26, 2007 Greta rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: jill, elvis fans, music history buffs
Excellent biography continues from volume one. This book is darker than the first one and covers some more disturbing aspects of his life and career. As with the first volume I was touched with his vulnerability. In this volume his vulnerabilty focuses on several key areas such as: adjustment and/or maladjustment to obscene amounts of fame, niavite and a blind trust and faith in his manager and others who handle/mishandle his career, and dependent and codependent and dysfunctional relationships ...more
Rex McCulloch
Reiterates, in it's own more-respectful, less-grudging way, Albert Goldman's conclusion that Elvis was a genius savant, a creature who was only good at one thing--only in his true element when he was performing, singing, interpreting a song. At all other times, he was ill-at-ease or lost. Elvis is an icon because we can all see something we recognize, something we want to see in his story. Anyone who's ever felt disillusioned, who's ever taken life for granted and still longed for more, pretty m ...more
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Peter Guralnick is an American music critic, writer on music, and historian of US American popular music, who is also active as an author and screenwriter. He has been married for over 45 years to Alexandra. He has a son and daughter, Jacob and Nina.

Guralnick's first two books, Almost Grown (1964) and Mister Downchild (1967), were short story collections published by Larry Stark, whose small press
More about Peter Guralnick...

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Elvis (2 books)
  • Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley
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