Book Review:


Journals of a Young Apprentice

David E. Stanley and David Gruder, PhD, Epiphany Now Publishing , USA, 2012, Hardcover (with dust jacket), ISBN: 978-0578102627

Released 15 May 2012

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, May 2012

Buy an autographed copy of Conversations with the King Journals of a Young Apprentice

“Transparency is the essence of Authenticity” David E. Stanley

Promotional information about Conversations with the King:

Not only does the book share insight into Elvis’ as mystic and healer, it shares equally important lessons Stanley learned from witnessing his stepbrother’s monumental struggle between his most authentic spiritual self, his private demons and his feelings of imprisonment resulting from his fame and public adulation.

The book provides new insight into the wisdom and gifts Elvis never openly discussed in public. The untold stories of each chapter revolve around life lessons encouraging and assisting readers to discover the lessons and answers in their own lives.

“This is the one Elvis story that hasn’t been written because I’m the only one who could tell it. Only now after the passage of time, do I have the depth of understanding to share the story in ways that I hope will be healing to many,” said Stanley.

(EIN Comment: The reviewer believes this pr is a valid reflection of the book's content)

The name David Stanley* will be familiar to most Elvis fans. As Elvis' youngest stepbrother, David grew up in the shadow of his famous brother and was exposed to a colorful and often excessive lifestyle most people only dream about. For a young boy growing up in a surreal rock and roll world, Davids experience was a testing one, despite its many conflicting opportunities.

If you are familiar with David’s published works since Elvis’ death in 1977, you will be aware that he has been travelling along a rocky and often painful, detour afflicted path to spiritual enlightenment; trying to make sense of his life; the role of Elvis in his spiritual growth; and importantly, achieving real, ongoing personal growth. 

In his first solo book release in 1986, Life With Elvis, David, with great candour, set the scene for his latest book by sharing the challenges and joys of growing up as Elvis’ youngest stepbrother and importantly revealing his search for real meaning in his life. It is a journey that has taken David in many directions with many surprises (not all positive); a journey which has brought him, in 2012, to a much clearer realisation and understanding about his life and the important role in it played by Elvis.  

One quote in Life With Elvis is symbolic, arguably a metaphor for a core theme in David's journey, particularly in his adult life:

I was always amazed at how comfortable I felt in the pulpit.  It was easy for me to stand up in front of people and tell them how God had brought me through all the hard times.  I knew that  being Elvis Presley’s stepbrother was opening doors for me, but at the same time, my message was always that God was using me not because I was Elvis’s brother, but rather in spite of the fact I was Elvis’s brother.  Like the Apostle Paul, I was always thought of myself as the “chiefest of sinners”.

In 2012 David releases his latest which is very different to those preceding it. Conversations with the King Journals of a Young Apprentice reveals the extraordinary spiritual lessons Elvis revealed to David, Elvis’ stepbrother. As private mystic and healer, Elvis instilled in David valuable lessons during the seventeen years Stanley served as Elvis’ young apprentice.

David Stanley sets the tone for Conversations with the King:

In my conversations with Elvis, I didn’t realise at the time that the groundwork was being laid for a point in my life where I would reconcile my three selves [EIN Note: The three selves are the dark private self, public self and authentic self]

David with Elvis in 1977

As you will have surmised by now, this is not your typical Elvis book, rather it is one that speaks straight to the heart of what Elvis, the person, not the singer, was about. While most fans are aware Elvis shared a great interest in religion and the search for real meaning in life, with one or two exceptions, these themes have not been well covered in the written canon about him.

Conversations with the King is an important publication in rectifying this issue. David Stanley's reflection of the themes, in the context of his own growth over several decades, allows him to cogently dissect and pierce the mystery of why Elvis and his legend endures, 35 years after his passing.

Other themes in Conversations with the King will challenge many readers, particularly Elvis as mystic; Elvis as healer.

The strength of Conversations with the King is its ability to strip away the façade of material life to reveal what is the universal search for non-material meaning in our lives. 

For some, the concept of spirituality may cause dissonance, partricularly if the reader views spiitualism as a solely religious phenomenon (which it is not).

For other readers, what David Stanley has written is, on one level, an instructional manual that anyone can use to obtain greater understanding of oneself.

Conversations with the King is described as providing one with the tools to discover how to:

  • Embrace transparency by stepping into the illuminated life
  • Replace ambition with meaning
  • Embody the greatness of your authentic self

While some may regard these matters as religious or new age rhetoric, those with open minds will appreciate David Stanley's incisive observations and the thought provoking questions he poses about Elvis’ existence and the need to keep hidden from the public, parts of his authentic self:

His managers wanted to keep the extent of Elvis’s spiritual seeking as private as possible in order to not risk threatening his image.

What do you think happens to our less-than savoury parts when we feel pressure to only show others our sanitized public self?

The author contends that what “continues to call and inspire us even more than his music, movies, and legend, is his Presence, his true authentic spirit.”

It is this concept which touches the heart of Elvis as teacher and healer, while also presenting a warning:

However, if we ignore the struggles that led to his demise we deprive ourselves of one of the biggest gifts Elvis left for us: the importance of facing and resolving the gap between our own sanitized public self and our dark private self.”

Stanley and Gruder present a case linking Elvis to the new archetype of spiritual development that emerged in the 20th century asking the questions: this Elvis’ biggest legacy of all and is it the key to finally unlocking the mystery of why his legend continues to endure so strongly decades after his death?

Conversations with the King is a fascinating story of two men, closely intertwined through unusual circumstances, and more importantly it is the story of their personal battles to achieve a greater understanding of their purpose in life and find their authentic self. On this level their stories automatically resonate with the search that most people undertake, at least at some point in their lives.

While the core of this illuminating release is about spirituality and finding one's true self, Stanley provides much information about his time at Graceland.

What living at Graceland and growing up close to Elvis meant (in one sense) is no better encapsulated than through this potent passage:

That was the beginning of a fishbowl existence.  You’ve heard the expression, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?”  I learned young that what happens in Graceland stays in Graceland.  I learned that loyalty meant isolation; I was never to talk to others about private life in the Presley family, or to open up to others about my emotions and inner world.

Stanley also addresses issues which angered many fans, including candidly acknowledging the damage done by his infamous drugs article from the 1990s, written with Albert Goldman.

And on Elvis' death on 16 August 1977, Stanley's perspective is compelling!

Conversations with the King will challenge many readers with its very different subject matter.  This is how it should be, because being challenged is a necessary experience which provides the opportunity for reflection, reassessment and eventually, growth. 

Conversations with the King will not be for all fans.  However, if you are willing to consider a different perspective on Elvis and his life, and are willing to explore the concept of spirituality as it affected Elvis and David Stanley, there is an abundance of important information to be found in this release.

This is a release which offers an opportunity to, in a very different way, understand who Elvis really was, and through the lessons Elvis taught David and the tools David provides, open the door for the reader to potentially also find personal growth and their 'authentic self".

* David Stanley's story was presented in the 2007 film, Protecting the King.

Buy an autographed copy of Conversations with the King Journals of a Young Apprentice


Coming soon to EIN:

David Stanley talks to EIN about Elvis, his life in 2012 and his latest book, Conversations with the King!

About the Authors:

David E. Stanley

David E. Stanley was born in Newport News, Virginia in 1955 to Bill and Dee Stanley.  Three years later his parents divorced, setting the stage for an extraordinary event.  In 1960, Dee Stanley married Vernon Presley, Elvis Presley’s widowed father. 

David was just four years old, 20 years younger than his new stepbrother when he moved into the Graceland Mansion.  Through a strange twist of fate, Elvis Presley had become David’s big brother.

David spent the next 17 years growing up with Elvis Presley and became the young apprentice to an Elvis few knew - Elvis the mystic and healer.

On August 16, 1977, David was among the first to find the lifeless body of Elvis---the man who had been his brother, friend, mentor and surrogate father.

Today David Stanley is a bestselling author and speaker in the field of self-development. He is the co-author of the New York Times Bestseller, “Elvis We Love You Tender” and author of “Raised on Rock” and “The Elvis Encyclopedia”. His latest book, “Conversations with the King -- Journals of a Young Apprentice” is being released in May 2012.

David S. Gruder, PhD

Dr Gruder is a licensed clinical psychologist and award winning author and speaker in the area of self-development and spiritual growth. He is also recognised as the foremost expert in the area of integrity, intentional effectiveness and accountability. Dr Gruder trains and consults with professionals, businesses and leaders worldwide.


Books by David E. Stanley:

Elvis, We Love You Tender (written with Dee Presley, Billy Stanley and Rick Stanley), Delacorte Press, USA/New English Library, UK, 1980

Life With Elvis, MARC Europe, 1986

Raised On Rock: Growing Up at Graceland (with Mark Bego), Mainstream Publishing, USA, 1997

The Elvis Encyclopedia: The Complete and Definitive Reference Book on the King of Rock & Roll (with Frank Coffey), General Publishing Group, USA, 1998

Conversations with the King Journals of a Young Apprentice (with David Gruder, PhD), Epiphany Now Publishing, USA, 2012

Links to David E. Stanley:

David E. Stanley (Facebook)

David E. Stanley (Twitter)

David talking about Conversations with the King (YouTube) #1

David talking about Conversations with the King (YouTube) #2

David talking about Conversations with the King (YouTube) #3


David E. Stanley on EIN:

David Stanley talks to EIN (2006)

David Stanley talks to EIN (2004)

David Stanley talks to EIN (2003)

DVD Review: Protecting the King

EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.








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