The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley

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9780743213011: The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley
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In The Colonel, Alanna Nash, the author of Golden Girl: The Story of Jessica Savitch, explores in depth the amazing story of Colonel Tom Parker, the man behind the legend and the myth of Elvis Presley. The result is a book that reads like the most riveting of real-life detective stories -- one that will completely change your view of Presley's life, success, and death.

While scores of books have been written about Elvis Presley, this is the first meticulously researched biography of Tom Parker written by someone who knew him personally. And for anyone truly interested in the performer many consider the greatest and most influential of the twentieth century, it is impossible to understand how Elvis came to be such a phenomenon without examining the life and mind of Parker, the man who virtually controlled Elvis's every move.

Alanna Nash has been covering the story of Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker since the day of Presley's funeral in Memphis, Tennessee. She was the first journalist allowed to view Presley's body, a compelling and surprising sight. But the profile of Parker attending the funeral in a Hawaiian shirt and a baseball cap was even stranger, and led her to investigate the man behind the myth.

It has been known for twenty years that Thomas Andrew Parker was, in fact, born in Holland as Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk. But Nash has dug much deeper and, in a masterpiece of reporting, unearthed never-before-seen documents, including Parker's army records and psychiatric evaluations, and the original police report of an unsolved murder case in Holland that lies at the heart of the Parker mystery. In the process of weighing the evidence, she answers the biggest riddle in the history of the music industry, as it becomes clear that every move Parker made in the handling of Elvis Presley -- from why he never allowed Elvis to perform in Europe, to why he didn't halt Elvis's drug use, to why he put him in so many mediocre movies, and even the Colonel's direction of Presley's army career -- was designed to protect Parker's own secrets.

Filled with startling new material, her book challenges even the most familiar precepts of the Presley saga -- everything we presumed about Parker's handling of the world's most famous entertainer must now be reevaluated in the light of information Nash reveals about Parker, who cared little for Presley beyond what the singer could do to bolster the Colonel's precarious position as an illegal alien.

Elvis Presley, as one of Parker's unwitting victims, paid a major price for the Colonel's past and his overwhelming need to be more important than his client. As a result, Presley was never allowed to reach his potential and died in drug-induced frustration over his stunted and mismanaged career.

In this astonishing, impeccably written, and vastly entertaining book, Nash proves that the only figure in American popular culture as fascinating as Elvis Presley is Colonel Tom Parker, the man who shaped Elvis, who in turn helped shape us.

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Review:

Alanna Nash's biography of Colonel Tom Parker uncovers a life story even more complicated, dark, and entertaining than that of the promoter's greatest talent, Elvis Presley. Nash had unique access to the Colonel and many of those closely connected to him in assembling the facts that underlie her narrative, and the book reads like a mystery as it probes the origins of Parker’s power.

Ultimately, Parker was protecting himself in his manipulation of Elvis, Nash argues. Though her evidence is not conclusive, she suggests that Parker (born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk) feared deportation his entire life, but, more importantly, he may have fled his native Holland in 1929 after committing murder. In America Andreas transformed himself into Tom Parker while immersing himself in the worlds of the carnival and circus. This work led him to the promotion of musical acts and, eventually, the creation of his greatest mass entertainment and merchandising bonanza, Elvis. Elvis would become a shield against the demons of Parker’s past and resource to fuel his insatiable appetites.

Parker’s life remains shrouded to a large degree, despite Nash's efforts. The narrative is at times sensational in its attempts to dramatize the malign aspects of Parker’s character, and those coming for a definitive answer as to the cause of Elvis's self-destruction will find new light, but no final answers. Yet, Nash's biography will likely remain the best picture we will ever have of the mysterious Tom Parker, and fans of Elvis will appreciate this insider's view into their hero’s rise and fall. --Patrick O'Kelley

About the Author:

A feature writer for Entertainment Weekly, USA Weekend, and The New York Times, Alanna Nash is a longtime chronicler of popular culture. She is the author of five books, including Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia and Golden Girl: The Story of Jessica Savitch, which was the basis for the feature film Up Close and Personal. Named one of the "Heavy 100 of Country Music" by Esquire magazine, Nash holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was the Society of Professional Journalists' National Member of the Year in 1994.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781556525469: The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley

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ISBN 10:  155652546X ISBN 13:  9781556525469
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, 2004
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9781781311509: The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley

Aurum ..., 2013
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