Book Review:

For the Love of Elvis

by Marla J. Selvidge

For the Love of Elvis is available in both Kindle (digital) and soft cover format book focuses on the positive aspects of Elvis' life.......

About the book.......Marla Selvidge recently told EIN:

"I have just finished my new book For the Love of Elvis. I spent three years researching Elvis as I developed a class for the University of Central Missouri, "Elvis.  Memphis Messiah."  When I had finished reading hundreds of articles and books and watching scores of videos, I was compelled to write a positive book about Elvis.  It is a tribute to his genius.  I term my work, "Elvisology.""


Marla Selvidge is Professor and Director of the Center for Religious Studies at the University of Central Missouri.

In her new book, Professor Selvidge explores the human side of Elvis endeavouring to answer the question:"Why do people love Elvis?"

The 10 chapters in For the Love of Elvis explore his childhood, career, and death, with readers learning of a generous Elvis who gave away most of his $5 billion dollars in earnings. Professor Selvidge presents a mosaic like picture of of its pivotal themes being Elvis the Southerner, who stood tall for his heritage in spite of the hostilities he encountered throughout America.

Just as importantly, the author finds that in more ways than any other entertainer in the 20th century, Elvis modeled equality for females and non-traditional males. It is Professor Selvidge's view that Elvis stepped away from the 'mechanical' John Wayne image to a gentler, more caring image. 

The book title chosen by the author operates on two levels - capturing the love that Elvis felt from his fans and also the love that he gave and felt for his fans.

Interestingly, the author notes that many fans will have a greater knowledge of Elvis than she does. This is a refreshingly honest statement that other authors could learn from!

With the narrative focus being on recognising and exploring the human (rather than the professional side) of Elvis, the minutiae of the broader Elvis Presley story is not particularly relevant – what is relevant is the “inner” or “human” Elvis! 

Professor Selvidge's research for a book about Elvis the “person” (human) understandably transverses a broad range of sources.  There are various aspects of Elvis’ career covered in the book, for example, Elvis’ vocal talent and his love of women (fidelity), and in regards to these Professor Selvidge’s prose is instructive.  A number of other, rather offbeat inclusions did bring a smile to my face. With discussion ranging from how Elvis' life mimiced 'freedom' to the concept of 'open marriage', there is a wonderfully eclectic and valid array of thought provoking narrative to consider.

Professor Selvidge's book offers its readers an accessible door to an Elvis stripped of his regal, musical entrapments, an Elvis who like all of us, had dreams and strengths and weaknesses, and who - at his human core - displayed an incredible amount of compassion and support for those he knew and those he didn't know.

In reading For the Love of Elvis and considering Professor Selvidge's background I did ponder issues around academic research and offer two observations.

I feel the book would have benefited from an element of primary research, rather than relying on secondary sources.

Also, given Professor Selvidge’s academic pedigree my initial view/preference was that there should have been a more analytical approach to some issues, for example regarding the role of Colonel Parker. 

An author's use of broad statements without providing supporting discussion can be problematic. In For the Love of Elvis:

After reading numerous books about him including Alanna Nash’s, The Colonel, I have concluded that the man was a psychopath.  (I am not a therapist but the term seems to fit.)

On one level, the seriousness of the claim suggests it deserves further analysis. However, I understand that as Professor Selvidge was ostensibly writing her book as a fan rather than an academic, to provide such analysis, on a tangential issue, would have been detrimental, unduly diverting attention from the 'positive" aspects of its central character!

Ultimately, given this core objective of the book, For the Love of Elvis appropriately reflects the more 'personal' approach taken by Professor Selvidge to her subject.

Marla Selvidge:

He did not want to dominate his audience; he loved and cherished them in a way that no other performer has done.

His life has become a beacon for people who are from the "other" America. By living the American Dream, Elvis became a model of hope to people.

Order digital edition of For the Love of Elvis:

So, returning to the central question of For the Love of Elvis: "Why do people love Elvis?"

In addressing this, Professor Selvidge posits:

People love Elvis because he was just a normal guy, just like everyone else, who got lucky. More than anyone else in the twentieth century, Elvis gave away his fortune to those in need. His life speaks "generosity." He trusted and loved people to a fault.

While many said that he lived on the edge of traditional morality, he also zestfully embraced new technologies. His music reached around the globe and still touches people's lives today. Elvis was a proud Southerner and in a very real way became the redeemer of a lost and glorious past of the south.

Verdict: For the Love of Elvis is a slimline book, which is easy to read and with its largish print and double line spacing (publishers take note: great for older readers with diminishing eyesight!) won’t take you long to finish.   That there is not too much information to take in encourages greater understanding and appreciation.

Undoubtedly For the Love of Elvis will appeal to those fans (and there are a lot of them!) tired of reading the same tired sensationalist tabloid record of Elvis’ life.  Professor Selvidge’s release is a positive, unadulterated account of a special life which touched, and continues to touch, millions of people around the world.  It allows the reader to reflect on the “human” aspect of Elvis and what it was about him that facilitates his impact on their life. 


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