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Fortunate Son: The Life of Elvis Presley (American Portrait)

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Fortunate Son: The Life of Elvis Presley (American Portrait) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Elvis Presley was celebritys perfect storm. His sole but substantial contribution was talent, a fact Charles L. Ponce de Leon is careful to demonstrate throughout his wonderfully contextual Fortunate Son. Even as the moments of lucidity necessary to exercise that talent grew rarer and rarer, Elvis proved his musical gifts right up to the end of his life. Beyond that, however, he was fortunes child. Fortunate Son succinctly traces out the larger shifts that repeatedly redefined the cultural landscape during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, using Elviss life to present a brief history of American popular culture during these tumultuous decades.
Charles L. Ponce de Leon teaches history at the State University of New York, Purchase, and is the author of Self-Exposure: The Emergence of Celebrity in America, 1890–1940.
Days before his death, Elvis Presley saw a chance to earn the U.S. Marshall's badge President Nixon had given him back in 1970 in the Oval Office, where, in his bejeweled leisure suit, the drug-addicted Elvis had sworn himself to law and order. Spying a fight breaking out between two men and a gas station attendant, an overweight Elvis did his best to leap out of his limo and strike a karate pose. He was met with stunned belief and requests for autographs; when his police escort finally arrived, it was in hope of a photo with the King.
 
In the 1950s, Elvis was celebrity's perfect storm. Gifted, charismatic, and telegenic, he was a rebel rooted in conservative Southern working-class morals. By the late 1960s, the storm had largely passed. A surging popular culture had upended those morals, and what had once seemed rebellious looked more and more reactionary. Far from daring and racy, Elvis's movies seemed treacle; rather than trendsetting, his musical talent seemed better suited for well-worn country ballads. Charles L. Ponce de Leon's Fortunate Son places Elvis's life within the larger shifts that redefined the cultural landscape during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, discovering in the mounting ironies of Elvis's waning success the seeds of mythology we know today.
"Charles Ponce de Leon manages in this concise, probing, and extremely readable book on Elvis to accomplish what all historical biographers aspire to: to illuminate the man, the times, and the important relationship between the two."Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America
"Charles Ponce de Leon manages in this concise, probing, and extremely readable book on Elvis to accomplish what all historical biographers aspire to: to illuminate the man, the times, and the important relationship between the two. The reader is as fortunate as Elvis."Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America
 
"This smart and engaging biography is the first to understand Elvis as a key figure in the history of recent America. Instead of an icon, both worshipped and mocked, Ponce de Leon reveals a man pulled under by the same celebrity culture that had made him."Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
 
"A vivid retelling of the Elvis saga, and a deft assessment of its meanings. Ponce de Leon puts all the major themes in playrace, region, class, religion, politics, artistryand shows how Elvis illuminates the tragic unfolding of celebrity in modern America. Cultural history at its most riveting."Richard Wightman Fox, author of Jesus in America: Personal Savior, Cultural Hero, National Obsession
 
"Ponce de Leon's Elvis is compellingly human. He is also a product of historyhis own particular history, and the larger history of sweeping change in American society and culture during the decades following World War II. Fortunate Son is sophisticated and beautifully written, a must-read not only for Elvis fans but for anyone interested in twentieth-century American history."Beth Bailey, author of Sex in the Heartland
 
"A surprisingly worthwhile addition to the groaning shelf of Elvis books, emphasizing the historical and cultural context for his music and celebrity. Ponce de Leon makes good use of scholarly material, rock criticism and Peter Guralnick's definitive two-volume biography to write a short but cogent analysis of Presley's significance as a musician and a star. He's particularly good on the transformations in American society that enabled 'Elvis the Pelvis,' viewed in the 1950s as a race-mixing, near-juvenile-delinquent-adored by rebellious teens and respected by African-American record buyers, but anathema to conventional adultsto have become by the '70s the epitome of patriotic values, beloved by conservative, white country-music fans. The author of a previous book on celebrity, Ponce de Leon also offers valuable comments about the ways in which Presley's unprecedented fame, which in the late '50s made it impossible for him to appear in public, shaped a weird lifestyle that ultimately contributed to his artistic decline and drug abuse. The story of his career trajectory, from groundbreaking music through mediocre movies to late-life touring, is the same one related in dozens of previous books, but the author retells it well, with respect for his subject and the working-class Southern culture that produced Elvis. He's considerably more sympathetic than many pundits toward the singer's manager, Tom Parker, paying tribute to the Colonel's amazing promotional abilities and acknowledging that his business strategies were in line with Presley's desire for mainstream success. It's a balanced assessment, acknowledging that the precipitous decline in the quality of the movies was Elvis's responsibility as much as Parker's, but also noting that the Colonel's decision to limit record releases to soundtrack albums cut the singer off from his musical inspiration, the source of his self-confidence and 'the wellspring from which everything else had come.' . . . [A] thoughtful synthesis of the most intelligent writing on the Presley phenomenon."Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

The author succinctly places Elvis's life within the larger shifts that redefined the cultural landscape during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, discovering in the mounting ironies of Elvis's waning success the seeds of mythology about the King that still exist.

Synopsis:

Elvis Presley was celebrity's perfect storm. His sole but substantial contribution was talent, a fact Charles L. Ponce de Leon is careful to demonstrate throughout his wonderfully contextual Fortunate Son. Even as the moments of lucidity necessary to exercise that talent grew rarer and rarer, Elvis proved his musical gifts right up to the end of his life. Beyond that, however, he was fortune's child. Fortunate Son succinctly traces out the larger shifts that repeatedly redefined the cultural landscape during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, using Elvis's life to present a brief history of American popular culture during these tumultuous decades.

About the Author

Charles L. Ponce de Leon teaches history at the State University of New York, Purchase, and is the author of Self-Exposure: The Emergence of Celebrity in America, 1890-1940.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780809016419
Author:
Ponce De Leon, Charles L.
Publisher:
Hill & Wang
Author:
Ponce de Leon, Charles L.
Author:
Charles L. Ponce de Leon
Subject:
Composers & Musicians - Rock
Subject:
History & Criticism - General
Subject:
Genres & Styles - Rock
Subject:
HIS037080
Subject:
Entertainment & Performing Arts - General
Subject:
Entertainment & Performing Arts
Subject:
Modern - 21st Century
Subject:
Biography-Composers and Musicians
Subject:
Music-Rock History
Edition Description:
Hill and Wang
Series:
American Portrait
Publication Date:
20070831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes 8 Pages of Black-and-White Illu
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 x 0.588 in

Related Subjects

» Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Rock
» Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Rock » Biographies
» Biography » Composers and Musicians
» Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts

Fortunate Son: The Life of Elvis Presley (American Portrait) New Trade Paper
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Product details 256 pages Hill & Wang - English 9780809016419 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The author succinctly places Elvis's life within the larger shifts that redefined the cultural landscape during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, discovering in the mounting ironies of Elvis's waning success the seeds of mythology about the King that still exist.
"Synopsis" by ,
Elvis Presley was celebrity's perfect storm. His sole but substantial contribution was talent, a fact Charles L. Ponce de Leon is careful to demonstrate throughout his wonderfully contextual Fortunate Son. Even as the moments of lucidity necessary to exercise that talent grew rarer and rarer, Elvis proved his musical gifts right up to the end of his life. Beyond that, however, he was fortune's child. Fortunate Son succinctly traces out the larger shifts that repeatedly redefined the cultural landscape during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, using Elvis's life to present a brief history of American popular culture during these tumultuous decades.
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