Book Review:

Elvis September 1958 - Germany Bound

by Paul Belard

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, May 2019

Paul Belard, Linden Press, USA, 2019, Softcover (21 x 27.5cms), 185 pages, Illustrated, ISBN-13: 978-0999893944

The latest two books from Paul Belard continue to impress thanks to Belard's ability to source an incredible array of well known and obscure images of Elvis and important archival material. EIN's Nigel Patterson took a peek inside each book to discover what is on offer. Here is Nigel's review of Elvis September 1958 - Germany Bound.

Read EIN's review of Paul's other recent book Elvis January-February 1956


In September 1958 the King of Rock and Roll prepared to depart America for the next phase of his Army training and experience. Once again, Elvis author-researcher, Paul Belard, has brought together an exhaustive visual collection of images and archival material which document Elvis' last few weeks on American soil and his time on board the USS (General George M.) Randall en route to Bremerhaven, Germany.

Germany Bound’s 185 pages are impressive, particularly as they represent one month in Elvis’ decorated life. The hundreds of photos and archival items represent the most comprehensive visual record of Elvis preparing to leave for Germany and include his farewell press conferences, boarding the USS Randall, Elvis' second most famous "kiss", and on-board the ship during its nine days passage to Germany.

While it is the visuals that principally tell the story, Belard uses his minimal narrative to also enlighten. For example, how many fans knew that Elvis had to walk the gangways of the USS Randall numerous times, carrying borrowed duffel bags and other items, to satisfy the bevy of photographers wanting to capture his last moments in America? 

The first edition of Elvis September 1958 - Germany Bound is a limited, numbered edition of 50 copies.

The Visuals

As with most books from Paul Belard, it is the combination of photos and archival material that dominate and drive the book.

The visuals in Elvis September 1958 - Germany Bound include full sections devoted to Elvis’ press conferences, boarding the USS Randall, and on-board the ship.

Particular highlights are a seven page spread covering Elvis' "second most famous kiss" and 12 pages of photos of Elvis playing the piano aboard the USS Randall (see image below).

Among the other notable visuals are:

  • a side on b&w shot of Elvis with his girlfriend, Anita Wood (with her back to the camera), about to leave home by car for Fort Hood (p16)
  • Elvis at full stretch hanging over the railing of his train to kiss a lucky fan (Jane Willbanks) (p26)
  • glorious color images of Elvis during his farewell press conference (pp63-64)
  • a smouldering profile shot of Private Presley (p79)
  • the ‘new look’ short haired Elvis is neatly in focus in a full page image of the back of his head, neck and shoulders (p86)
  • the Army's most famous recruit signing a press release with his arm around the neck of an attractive WAC at Fort Hamilton Army Base (pp97-99)
  • Elvis saying goodbye to Colonel Parker (p140)
  • Elvis in the ship’s library (p149)
  • Elvis and his “bunk” partner, Charlie Hodge (p152)
  • Elvis dining at the Captain’s table (pp174-175)

Archival Material

Complementing the visual component of Elvis September 1958 - Germany Bound is an array of fascinating archival material.

The archival items are important as they add salient context to and primary reporting around the significance of Elvis’ leaving for Germany. They include:

  • media report – 44 Years later, girl who kissed Elvis celebrates her birthday (pp28-29)
  • US Army official press memo about Elvis’ departure for Germany (p31)
  • cover image and story around the book of poetry Elvis took with him to the press conference (pp48-49)
  • transcript of Elvis’ farewell press conference before departing for Germany (p81)
  • New York Times news item: Private Presley Sails (p142)
  • a copy of an interesting two page handwritten fan letter (pp170-171)
  • record covers
  • promotional RCA items

Verdict: Paul Belard may have only been publishing his series of books presenting the Elvis story in visual form since late 2016 but already he has 10 books in print and another staggering 40 plus at an advanced stage! Elvis September 1958 – Germany Bound adds to Belard's mounting and impressive catalog as a fine documentary record of Elvis' final weeks before he landed in Germany.

Comment on this review

Read EIN's interview with Paul Belard

***How to order Paul Belard's Elvis books***

To order Elvis September 1958 - Germany Bound and any other books by Paul Belard contact the author directly by email:

Paul Belard

About the author: Paul Belard learned the art of bookbinding in Paris in the late 1970's at the shop of renowned French bookbinder Paule Ameline. He has been practicing fine bookbinding, repairs and restoration in the USA since 1980. His other interests are varied, including the American Civil War, history, and a massive project to produce an exhaustive pictorial record of Elvis' life and career.

Paul's published "Elvis" titles as at May 2019 are:

Upcoming titles from Paul Belard include the thematic, rather than time specific, Elvis A Humanitarian and Elvis Badges, Cops and Guns!

About Paul Belard's Elvis publications: Each book is one of a series of scholarly works which explore Elvis Presley’s career and his impact on society here in the USA and abroad. It is a non-profit endeavor, and each book will be sold at cost.

(Book Review) Elvis Black and White to Technicolor (Paul Belard and Joseph Krein): The latest release from Paul Belard (with Joseph Krein) is one of the more important Elvis books in recent years. The reason why is that addresses the controversial issue that Elvis was racist. The authors tackle the subject of Elvis' relationship with Black America head on through a balanced and impressive mix of text and image.

Belard and Krein's research has uncovered rare archival material on the issue and the book includes hundreds of comments about Elvis by Black Americans.




Read Nigel Patterson's detailed review

(Book Reviews; Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)

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