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Last Train to Memphis The Rise of Elvis Presley
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Last Train to Memphis The Rise of Elvis Presley (Elvis #1)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,730 Ratings  ·  307 Reviews
'Last Train to Memphis' is arguably the first serious biography that refuses to dwell on the myth of Elvis. Aiming instead to portray in vivid, dramatic terms the life and career of this outstanding artistic and cultural phenomenon, it draws together a plethora of documentary and interview material to create a superbly coherent and plausible narrative. The first of two vol ...more
Paperback, 578 pages
Published November 2nd 1995 by Little Brown and Company (first published March 1st 1994)
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Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most exhilarating stories ever told. Guralnick accomplishes something astonishing -- he rescues Elvis from myth, in the process reaffirms his legend. This volume chronicles Elvis's early life -- his crackling charisma, musical inventiveness and genuine iconoclasm. The backdrop is America in transformation -- postwar restlessness, racial integration and (much needed) rebellion. In the end, we see why America needed Elvis, and why, sadly, his tragic fall was so inevitable. As good a boo ...more
M. D.  Hudson
Sep 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book I picked up after last fall’s trips to visit my friends Heather and Clay in the wonderful city of Memphis. Great book, couldn’t put it down. Reviewers say it’s the best book on Elvis around. Haven’t read much about Elvis, but I can’t imagine it getting much better than this. A very sympathetic account, it keeps an eye on what is important about Elvis – his astonishing talents – and not the sordid stuff (although the sordid stuff is mentioned). To my delight, Elvis’s Army buddy Rex M ...more
A sharply-rendered and painstakingly-detailed account of Elvis' early days. Guralnick's narrative prose is simple, even crude, but his material is richly precise: in some places, we get an almost day-by-day account of Elvis' life and career, with sources split neatly between firsthand interviews and the author's own historical knowledge, which is impressive. Guralnick is, it should be noted, a far better historian than he is a writer, and there are whole blocks of prose that ramble indistinctly ...more
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
the Elvis book left me speechless and amazed. Dreaming about hillbilly forevers. Sentimental on a Sun Recording bender that nearly drove the neighbors to nail my windows shut to save them from the pain of the thousandth play of "Its all Alright Momma" at full volume. Have you ever seen "Jesus Camp?" It was kinda like that but with Elvis instead of Jesus and I only cried when Gladiolus died near the end. To say Elvis is iconic from Tokyo to Mobile and cult like for many that hide in Dixie caves i ...more
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This enormous biography takes Elvis from his birth in 1935, through his gradual rise to stardom and on to the death of his beloved mother. The author meticulously lists every live concert date, every record and every film made, but that is not all the book is about. As well as explaining how and why Elvis became the huge star he became, it explains who he was. The gentle boy who loved his mother and who never seemed to be anything other than caring (if a little fickle) with his many girlfriends, ...more
Aug 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Todd L.
Long live the King! Before you dismiss this with, "I don't like Elvis...," it doesn't matter. It is a really cool look at 50s culture in the U.S., and the development of the first true music mega-star. This book will also appeal to people interested in Southern culture. Guralnick does a great job with describing the alignment of hemispheres that allowed Elvis to became the huge sensation that he was. I was particularly facinated in the details of Elvis' first long-term relationships; both women ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley is beautifully written portrait of Presley's early years -- his impoverished childhood in Tupelo, Mississippi, the move to Memphis in his teenage years, and the amazingly rich and complex soup of musical influences that city offered to a shy, sensitive boy with a huge love of singing and music of all kinds.

The Elvis you meet in this book is not the troubled, larger-than life, jumpsuit-wearing star of the Vegas years that may first spring to mind w
Brendan Lyons
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was an Irish kid in Germany in 1958 (my Dad worked in the AFEX system as an accountant) when Elvis came over as an army draftee. A family friend got his autograph for me which I lost soon after (damn & double-damn!)and this is the point where this book - the first of a two-part biography - closes. It takes us from Elvis' birth in Tupelo to his family's move to Memphis, his geeky high school days, the $12 guitar his father bought for him, and his burning desire to cut a record. This brought ...more
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since this is the first book I've read about Elvis I can't compare it to the rest of the mountains of scholarship. I'm not part of the fawning chorus who think this is a gripping and incredible journey through the early life of one of America's most mythologized and misunderstood pop artists.

While I understand why Guralnick might have toned down his presence in the narrative (an Elvis book is kind of the big leagues) I found his personal relationship to the characters in Sweet Soul Music and Lo
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first contact with Elvis was through my older brother who listened to his music religiously. I was just a dumb kid, but I thought that Elvis was handsome. Now that I can look back on Elvis and his impact on the music business, I can easily see why he is the "King" and how he was able to do what he did. Much of it was due to natural talent. He was not only a talented entertainer, but he had a presence about him that can't be taught. You have it or you don't. He obviously had it. He was "attrac ...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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