"Elvis' love for Hawaii reflected in new book"

Book Review: Elvis In Hawai'i by Jerry Hopkins The Bess Press, Hawaii, 2002, Flexibound, 88 pages, Illustrated, ISBN: 1573061425

The name Jerry Hopkins is synonymous with the first critically acclaimed biography about Elvis (the 1972 'Elvis: A Biography'). A follow-up book in 1980 'Elvis The Final Years' was also well received.

Given his pedigree, many fans were eagerly looking forward to his latest and much delayed book (it was first mooted for publication in 1998), Elvis In Hawai'i.

The premise of the book is to explore Elvis's ties with and love for America's 50th state. Hawaii was the setting for two of The King's biggest concerts, the stage for three of his movies and a favorite vacation destination when he wasn't recording or touring.

The strengths of Elvis In Hawai'i are its well laid-out page design and the many color and black & white photos printed on high quality semi-gloss paper. Many of the photos are previously unpublished and while some are grainy the book design is so good that the photos grab your attention over and over again. From movie stills to Elvis live on stage to hurriedly snapped candid shots, the photos in Elvis In Hawaii really draw you in.

The potential weakness in Elvis In Hawai'i is its large-sized, quasi-minimalist text. Unlike his two earlier books on The King, this time Hopkins relies on the interesting and enticing visuals over rigorous narrative.

Hopkins has an easygoing writing style and certainly provides what a fan or general reader needs to know about the times Elvis spent on the islands. There is sufficient text, without it being extensive, outlining the background to of each of Elvis' live and film appearances in Hawaii. Within its relatively meagre 88 pages, the author also provides some amusing anecdotes and covers such diverse subjects as Hawaiian Elvis impersonators, a short biography on Kui Lee (the Aloha concert was held to benefit the Kui Lee Cancer Fund) and Hawaiian Elvis memorabilia.

However, overall, Elvis In Hawai'i does not exhibit the same depth of detail or research that was evident in Hopkins' two biographical books on Elvis. Whether this is a valid concern is of course subjective, but it is hard to be objective when an author has effectively set his own publishing precedent.

Having said this, Elvis In Hawai'i, unlike Elvis: A Biography and Elvis The Final Years, does not claim to be a 'biographical' publication and therefore probably deserves to be evaluated on its own, separate merits.

Value added items in the book include photo reproductions of historical newspaper clippings, telegrams, movie lobby cards and the song sequences for the 1961 Pearl Harbor - USS Arizona Benefit Concert and 1973 Aloha From Hawaii concert, both handwritten by Elvis.

Verdict: Despite some perceived narrative shortcomings, fans will love this well designed and visually enticing release.

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson (nigel@elvisinfonet.com), copyright 2002

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