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Extended Audio Sample Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, by Peter Guralnick Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,061 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Guralnick Narrator: Kevin Stillwell Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Careless Love is the full, true, and mesmerizing story of Elvis Presley’s last two decades, in the long-awaited second volume of Peter Guralnick’s masterful two-part biography.

Last Train to Memphis, the first part of Guralnick’s two-volume life of Elvis Presley, was acclaimed by the New York Times as “a triumph of biographical art.” This concluding volume recounts the second half of Elvis’ life in rich and previously unimagined detail, and confirms Guralnick’s status as one of the great biographers of our time.

Beginning with Presley’s army service in Germany in 1958 and ending with his death in Memphis in 1977, Careless Love chronicles the unraveling of the dream that once shone so brightly, homing in on the complex playing-out of Elvis’ relationship with his Machiavellian manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It’s a breathtaking, revelatory drama that for the first time places the events of a too-often mistold tale in a fresh, believable, and understandable context.

Elvis’ changes during these years form a tragic mystery that Careless Love unlocks for the first time. This is the quintessential American story, encompassing elements of race, class, wealth, sex, music, religion, and personal transformation. Written with grace, sensitivity, and passion, Careless Love is a unique contribution to our understanding of American popular culture and the nature of success, giving us true insight at last into one of the most misunderstood public figures of our times.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Remarkably, Mr. Guralnick neither moralizes about Elvis’ actions nor opines about his place in history…The result: a crystalline focus on the man and his music that offers up Elvis’ life as a sort of Rorschach test for the late twentieth century…Together the two volumes make up a 1,100-page masterwork—a streamlined and riveting narrative tracing the rise and fall of arguably the most important entertainer of the century.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • Careless Love, a chronicle of shadows and sadness, is no sentimental epitaph. It is the fine and careful measure of a pilgrim traveler…in Guralnick’s thorough and compassionate telling.”


  • “We all know how the story ends, but Guralnick still manages to break our hearts in the telling…Careless Love is the toughest book about Elvis ever written, but it’s also one of the loveliest…One of the saddest stories ever told.”


  • “With the intense and objective eye of a master biographer…Guralnick takes the reader into the underlying issues of class, race, and the American desire to transform who we are into something better…Monumental.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Guralnick has done a masterful job of synthesizing information into a nuanced, deftly paced narrative. He brings long-overdue subtlety and insight to one of the most over-scrutinized characters in American popular culture.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “The great triumph of Careless Loveis that it celebrates, amid an unflinching portrait of personal and creative deterioration, the immutable innocence of Elvis’ aspiration.”

    Boston Globe

  • Careless Love restores the flesh to Elvis’ beleaguered bones…Guralnick writes with such profound sympathy for his subject that Elvis’ fate, though excruciating to read about, isn’t shocking as it was, for example, in Albert Goldman’s loathsome 1981 biography…Guralnick, working with the same basic material, shows us a terribly unhappy and frustrated man. I know which version I believe.”


  • “Mr. Guralnick’s book is a labor of love and of profound respect. What’s remarkable is how he manages to be simultaneously compassionate and dispassionate, truthful, unflinching, and nonjudgmental. His (all too rare) refusal to criticize, second-guess, or gloat…lends the entire enterprise an aura of capaciousness, generosity, and even transcendence…Everything in the biography strikes you as fitting seamlessly together…Mr. Guralnick’s book enlarges your imagination for the extremes and marvels, the highs and lows that can occur within a single lifetime.”

    New York Observer

  • “Tracing what seems a grand and irrevocable arc through an American life that finally became an American tragedy, Peter Guralnick has produced the second half of his colossal biography of Elvis Presley…Depressing as the story is, Guralnick’s approach redeems Elvis as a human, not a myth or a punch line, and calmly, methodically makes coherent what often has been obscured by the almost X-Files level of paranoid fantasy associated with the King’s final years.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • “A brilliant, beautifully written biography…With sentences built simply and carefully, yet containing ideas that are intense and true…Guralnick has created a masterpiece.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Essential reading not only for fans…but for anyone curious about the process and price of fame in America.”

    Tampa Tribune

  • “[A] definitive and scrupulous biography…As in volume one, Last Train to Memphis, Guralnick makes his points here through the selection and accretion of detail…The integrity of this approach is admirable. Many writers have made Presley the vehicle for their own ideas; Guralnick gives us a fallible human being destroyed by forces within as well as without. It’s an epic American tragedy, captured here in all its complexity.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Picking up where he left off in volume one, Guralnick captures it all…This is clearly the definitive account of Elvis Presley, no more lurid than it has to be. The author’s thoroughness is matched by his balance. It is obvious Guralnick has a deep admiration for Elvis’ contributions as an artist, but he does not overlook or excuse the star’s many flaws. An indispensable account.”


  • “This sequel to Guralnick’s Last Train to Memphis, completing his intensive biography of Elvis Presley, does not disappoint…The breadth of Guralnick’s research is nothing short of amazing, and his lyrical narrative presents an empathetic portrait of a man struggling with drugs, sex, family, personal eccentricities, money, and the delicate web of relationships surrounding any famous figure. Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker, wife Priscilla, father Vernon, and a host of close associates are portrayed with candor and insight. Details about everything from recording sessions to private conversations make this work hard to resist for die-hard Elvis fans as well as casual admirers. Guralnick’s honesty and skill make this tale all the more disturbing, peeling away the romantic image of a fine talent to reveal a deeply troubled man.”

    Library Journal

  • “Guralnick concludes his majestic two-volume biography of Elvis Presley with copious evidence of Elvis’ creative and personal plunge…This sequel to his exhilarating first volume is the most meticulously researched and sympathetic, honest portrait of Elvis we are likely to see.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Careless Love continues to show that Guralnick ‘gets’ what Presley was trying to do as an artist.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Prateek | 2/16/2014

    " The follow-up to Guralnick's definitive biography on Elvis. Here we see -- in sad, dispassionate detail -- Elvis slowly squandering his gifts to crappy movies and his ever sycophantic yes men. Guralnick manages to be both unsparing and compassionate. He sees this story as a genuine tragedy -- not the punchline of so many "Fat Elvis" jokes. In telling this tale, Guralnick rescues Elvis from camp and parody. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Otis Spice | 2/15/2014

    " Another miracle "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Amy | 2/14/2014

    " An excellent biography of Elvis, however, I recommend reading Last Train to Memphis 1st as it starts at the beginning. Careless Love begins with Private Elvis and you miss much of the beginning of his rise to stardom.This book is very detailed and descriptive. Few pictures though. Happy 75th Birthday Elvis! Your still the King! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carlos Repuestodelatabla | 2/14/2014

    " A depressing book, but thoroughly researched and both supports and demystifies the mythic Fall of Elvis. It seems inexorable, but at the same, shows he, not always pleasant,was captain of his ship. "

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About the Author

Peter Guralnick is widely regarded as the nation’s preeminent writer on twentieth-century American popular music. His books include Feel Like Going Home, Lost Highway, Sweet Soul Music, Searching for Robert Johnson, the novel Nighthawk Blues, and a highly acclaimed two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love.