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Elvis and Gladys (Southern Icons Series) Paperback – May 26, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The most fine-grained Elvis bio ever . . . thoughtful and truth-telling.”

Kirkus Reviews



“This is the Elvis bio that gets behind the hype and the myth. Nobody ever wrote better about the making of Elvis than Elaine Dundy.”

New York Daily News

From the Inside Flap

A intimate story of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll and his adoring mother
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Product Details

  • Series: Southern Icons Series
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (May 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578066344
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578066346
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The author, Elaine Dundy, not only tells the story of Elvis and his mother, she traces back several generations into the history and psyche of Elvis' ancestors: the Scotch and Irish who settled the Southeast and tamed the Mississippi Delta. Although she is British, her extensive research and comments about post-Civil War Southern society, customs, lifestyle, and mindsets are dead-on. I grew up in the rural Deep South and many of the influences peculiar to the South that Dundy sites in this book were still a part of my mid-20th century experiences.

The reader closes the book with one thought about Gladys (and Vernon) and that is that these two parents loved their son more than life itself and that they simply did the best they could. They were handicapped from the beginning by poverty, ignorance, and also quite possibly genetic pre-dispositions towards depression, obsessive/compulsive disorders, and addictions. It was not uncommon throughout the 19th century and into the 20th that first cousins would marry and have children. The inter-marriages within the Smith and Presley families were pervasive and no doubt exacerbated genetic tendencies.

Gladys' relationship to Elvis was very close in that she put his needs above everything else in her life. She was the only person who could have ever "saved" Elvis from his excesses. But unfortunately, she succumbed to her own drinking habits early on. Once she was gone, his life spiraled out of control.

Elaine Dundy leaves the question unanswered: If Elvis had such a close relationship with Gladys, why wasn't he ever able to form an equally enduring and intimate relationship with a lover? The answer comes from the reader's personal conclusion that the mother-son relationship was close to the point of crippling to Elvis.
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Format: Paperback
And there are many, many books. But this one is truly the best because it is highly focused on the MOST important relationship in Elvis's life. And that begs the question: why did it have to be? Certainly, Dee Stanley is clinically insane, but there is a tiny kernel of truth to her perverse fantasy and that is that not all dysfunctional parenting (and I do hate that term - dysfunctional, but it's late and I'm at a loss for a better term) is not maliciously "abusive" in any way at all. Gladys did what many poor people are forced to do: share uncomfortable and perhaps inappropriate sleeping accomodations with a child long after such conduct should have ceased (and would have, were they not so desperately poor and Gladys so desperately lonesome [and I do not mean that in any kind of sinister sense: just truly non-sexually lonely and alone - Vernon gone so often to Memphis during the War years to get work and so on . . .]). One visit by a social worker (or even a friend) at any time after Elvis was school-age (and then a very young 'tween) would have solved the problem with an explanation of how boys develop a sense of sexual identity during pre-pubescence and puberty would have instantly panicked Gladys into finding an alternative solution to the lack of space and her own sadness in the depths of the darkest nights of their lives. Gladys would never have deliberately harmed Elvis and we all know that. It's just one more instance in Elvis's tormented life where no one cared enough to even make a comment or suggestion. So many times, it was just the two of them, surviving bitter poverty, alone and without a solid support system. Yes, Gladys had many siblings, but she also seemed so very much alone. And Elvis was an only child.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The relationship between Gladys Presley and her son Elvis is lovingly detailed in this excellent book. Both people were larger than life and this book explores their profoundly deep kinship, their effect on one another and how he would have to go on without her. Definately worth reading, even if you are not a disciple of the King; by the way, if you're not, why aren't you?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What impressed me most was the account of Elvis' intense, enduring interest in performing beginning at an early age. She cites his participation in school shows, contests and courthouse jamborees, his involvement with entertainer Mississippi Slim, and his 240 mile hitch hike to compete at the Jimmie Rogers Festival. Elvis's association with Bill Black, his first bass player, occurred long before that famous Sun session that produced his first hit. Those who think that Elvis was just a truck driver that lucked up on a record hit are sadly mistaken. Elvis was into the music scene from the get go. He may have been lucky, but like they say, you make your own breaks. He was there, prepared, looking for the opportunity and taking the initiative.

The life of Gladys and her influence on Elvis are well documented. I've read several Elvis books, and none provides a better description. Gladys had her own dreams of stardom which filtered through to Elvis.

The author does a thorough, excellent job of researching and developing her own independent conclusions. For the most part, her logic rings true. In a very few instances, she may infer too much.
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