Download Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley Audiobook

Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley Audiobook, by Peter Guralnick Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Peter Guralnick Narrator: Kevin Stillwell Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2012 ISBN: 9781611135275
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From the moment that he first shook up the world in the mid 1950s, Elvis Presley has been one of the most vivid and enduring myths of American culture.

Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley is the first biography to go past that myth and present an Elvis beyond the legend. Based on hundreds of interviews and nearly a decade of research, it traces the evolution not just of the man but of the music and of the culture he left utterly transformed, creating a completely fresh portrait of Elvis and his world.

This volume tracks the first twenty-four years of Elvis’ life, covering his childhood, the stunning first recordings at Sun Records (“That’s All Right,” “Mystery Train”), and the early RCA hits (“Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel”). These were the years of his improbable self-invention and unprecedented triumphs, when it seemed that everything that Elvis tried succeeded wildly. There was scarcely a cloud in sight through this period until, in 1958, he was drafted into the army and his mother died shortly thereafter. The audiobook closes on that somber and poignant note.

Last Train to Memphis takes us deep inside Elvis’ life, exploring his lifelong passion for music of every sort (from blues and gospel to Bing Crosby and Mario Lanza), his compelling affection for his family, and his intimate relationships with girlfriends, mentors, band members, professional associates, and friends. It shows us the loneliness, the trustfulness, the voracious appetite for experience, and above all the unshakable, almost mystical faith that Elvis had in himself and his music. Drawing frequently on Elvis’ own words and on the recollections of those closest to him, the audiobook offers an emotional, complex portrait of young Elvis Presley with a depth and dimension that for the first time allow his extraordinary accomplishments to ring true.

Peter Guralnick has given us a previously unseen world, a rich panoply of people and events that illuminate an achievement, a place, and a time as never revealed before. Written with grace, humor, and affection, Last Train to Memphis has been hailed as the definitive biography of Elvis Presley. It is the first to set aside the myths and focus on Elvis’ humanity in a way that has yet to be duplicated.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “What Mr. Guralnick gives us is a passionate, detailed chronicle of Presley’s early years and fame.”

    New York Times

  • Elvis steps from the pages, you can feel him breathe, this book cancels out all others. Bob Dylan
  • A triumph of biographical art...profound and moving...Even the minor revelations are positively spellbinding...Mr. Guralnick's narrative is rendered with an intimate, restrained intensity eerily reminiscent of the plaintive tone of Presley's ballads, that tremulous yearning of America itself. Stephen Wright, New York Times Book Review
  • Altogether splendid....It is the particular and spectacular achievement of Last Train to Memphis that holds both the making of the history and the beginning of the myth in firm, simple, and compassionate focus....Guralnick paints this world with perspective, respect, and great decency: it is one of the book's triumphs. Jay Cocks, Time
  • “The first half of Guralnick’s projected two-volume biography is eminently engrossing. Taking pains to keep the story fresh and flowing and refraining from foreshadowing and editorializing, Guralnick lets the facts speak for themselves. If you really want only one Elvis biography, let this sensitive book be it.”


  • “Bound to be the definitive biography of the King…A serious, musically literate, and historically attuned biography. An American epic that belongs on every bookshelf.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “There’s no mention of sequins, drugs, or peanut butter in this understated biography of the teenaged Elvis, a serious and worthy attempt to answer the question, “Who was this guy before he was an icon, the voice of a generation, the King?” The essential clarity and honesty of Guralnick’s prose clearly limns the eager, malleable boy whose immense talent changed the course of American music.”, editorial review

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 2/16/2014

    " Definitive...eye opening. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathryne | 2/16/2014

    " Cool bio of the king. Lots of interesting details you never knew you could know. A good book, as bios go. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 O'linda | 2/13/2014

    " Left this book in Memphis during Elvis Week. I've visited the town several times during my son's stay there and found the historic detail about the South and the old radio stations and shows interesting. This writer seemed more interested in chronicling Elvis's rise to stardom and the hoopla surrounding it than deifying him as a pop icon. Some good pictures, but there are so many out there it's hard to tell what's what. Try gong to Graceland, it's a real study in popular culture, kitsch, and bad taste. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Burt | 2/12/2014

    " Sometimes you think you want definitive, I mean, the alternative would be scattershot, incomplete- nobody wants THAT, right? So, yeah, this book IS definitive in scope, through detail & methodology. I have no quarrel with Guralnick, not in style or content. But I couldn't finish it. Maybe I'm just not enough of an Elvis fan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nigel | 2/12/2014

    " A somewhat sobering deconstruction of America's greatest embodiment of meritocracy and faux sexual liberalism, leaving the reader still confused and slightly intrigued as to what still remains to be understood about the actual man. The book focus on those complexities of his insanely rapid rise, business contracts, bizarre acquaintances and the creation of a cult of personality for which was typically built away from the intimate self. In the end a simple small town boy, with good intentions, a naive loyalty and in desperate search for respectability must end in tragedy as all interests conspire to create their own Elvis. He shall remain one of the greatest men of history, unknown to him, a crucial figure in breaking staid Anglo-Saxon sexual repression with the passion that was found in the socially unacceptable counter-cultural passion of blues. TCB. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Edmund | 2/11/2014

    " Great Biography. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 1/24/2014

    " I am not a fan of Elvis Presley's music. But Guralnick's two volumes that chronicle the King's life will make you want to listen to his music. He gives an intimate portrait of Elvis's music inventions, his passionate triumphs and depressing struggles with glory. Guralnick shows Elvis as the great human and music maker he was. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nathan | 1/23/2014

    " A sharply-rendered and painstakingly-detailed account of Elvis' early days. Guralnick's narrative prose is simple, even crude, but his material is richly precise: in some places, we get an almost day-by-day account of Elvis' life and career, with sources split neatly between firsthand interviews and the author's own historical knowledge, which is impressive. Guralnick is, it should be noted, a far better historian than he is a writer, and there are whole blocks of prose that ramble indistinctly and contribute little to the story. Still, the story is what counts, and when it is allowed to upstage the weak writing, this book is worth a read -even if you aren't a fan of Elvis. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara | 1/19/2014

    " Best Elvis biography out there. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 1/16/2014

    " I was not a big Elvis fan, but this book really opened my eyes to who he was as an artist. Peter Guralnick is a music writer and the depth of his research is astounding! If you read ONE music biography, you must pick this one (well, also the second one about the downfall) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 1/8/2014

    " The greatest story ever told. You wouldn't believe it if it hadn't really happened. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roman | 1/8/2014

    " Excellent, as everything by Guralnick... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/1/2014

    " one of the best books i've ever read about elvis factual and to the point, no rose colored glasses "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andy | 12/26/2013

    " Wow. If you are a rock and roll fan of any kind, this is a must read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kate | 12/1/2013

    " In honor of our trip to Memphis... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Graeme | 9/22/2013

    " Part one of a two part biography on the big fella. The detail on Col Parkers contractual wranglings are, while essential to the story, slightly tedious. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 7/15/2013

    " Second only to "Alexander Hamilton" for best biography. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gabrielle | 7/14/2013

    " Searing, honest, and sad. I love these books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bonnie | 6/25/2013

    " The definitive Presley biography. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Edmond | 6/18/2013

    " In my preparations to go to Grace land, I read the first of a two volume biography of Elvis. Enjoyed it a lot. I love the treatment of his life and acknowledgment of the man as a true musician. took me forever though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 5/18/2013

    " I really enjoyed reading this book - if you want to read a book about Elvis and you only want to read one; here it is. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eunys | 4/23/2013

    " This book is very detailed regarding the first years of Elvis' recording, performing, and early films up to his first months in the Army. Certainly made me aware of the many people that depended on Elvis in his rise to fame. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick | 2/13/2013

    " Having read over a hundred books on Elvis believe me when I say The Guralnick books are all you need. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Priscilla | 12/16/2012

    " This book mostly concentrates on the music more than his life. I enjoyed reading it though and will soon start on the sequel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 11/26/2012

    " a book from my college days... he has a great story. "

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.

About the Narrator

Kevin Stillwell is an actor, voice talent, and Earphones Award-winning audiobook narrator. His film and television credits include Looper and Drop Dead Diva.