The King is dead. Long live the King.

Last Train to Memphis

By Peter Guralnick

The first half of Guralnick’s compelling two-part biography follows Elvis from his birth in Mississippi to his drafting by the Army in 1958, encompassing the years of his rocket-ride to stardom. Relying on hundreds of interviews, Guralnick stitches myriad everyday details into a vital, revealing portrait of the young musician. But the good times are short-lived. The author’s second volume of the King’s life story, Careless Love, is ominously subtitled “The Unmaking of Elvis Presley”.

Dead Elvis

By Greil Marcus

Elvis can no longer be seen as a human being, argues Greil Marcus. He is an idea, a mythological creature, a symbol. Through a set of interlocking essays, the lauded commentator on American entertainment maps how the the living, breathing man was transmuted into the more-than-mortal figure who still haunts our collective memory.


By Chris Abani

Almost as culturally pervasive as the King himself is the Elvis impersonator. This moving 2005 novel by the Nigerian-born author Chris Abani is filled with the energy of American music and film — and the spirit of Elvis Presley — as it depicts the odyssey of a teenaged Elvis impersonator struggling to escape a rough life on the streets of Lagos.

The Colonel

By Alanna Nash

There are some Elvis fans who blame his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, for the musician’s long, agonizing downfall. Others argue that Elvis would never have been such a huge star without Parker’s behind-the-scenes machinations. Alanna Nash ponders the mysterious life and many secrets of this Dutch-born, Barnum-like manipulator.

Elvis: All Shook Up

By Various

A collection of essays about the King by authors as diverse as William F. Buckley and Bono, David Halberstam and Ann-Margaret. This multifaceted portrait of the singer even includes newly declassified FBI documents pertaining to his outsized effect on popular culture, demonstrating why, thirty-five years after his death, America is still entranced by the kid from Tupelo, Mississippi.