The Elvis Encyclopedia Review
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Years ago, my older, 10-year-old cousin rushed over to me and screamed that she saw the greatest movie ever. Then she dropped a 45 of the same title on her monaural record player, shrieking even louder. This was “Kissin’ Cousins,” my earliest specific memory of Elvis Presley. Though I was well aware of this heartthrob—and who wasn’t—neither the song nor the photo on the jacket won me over.

Fast-forward to 2009. Now I’m finally intrigued by Elvis. Why the conversion? The Elvis Encyclopedia did me in. When I first opened the book, I was overwhelmed. I began with the A’s, which included “Animals,” “Ann-Margaret,” “Appearance,” and “Army,” among others.

Realizing that this wasn’t the best way to use this reference, I asked myself, Where would my cousin begin? I opened to the K’s to find “Kissin’ Cousins.” From there, another topic would come to mind, such as “Jailhouse Rock.” Then I managed to glance over to the next page, where I noticed “Waylon Jennings.” When I finally looked at the clock, over an hour had passed, and I’d barely scratched the surface of this jewel.

Author Adam Victor admits that, when he started this project, he was like me—an “outsider.” However, he ended up a fan. He states that the purpose of The Elvis Encyclopedia is “to serve as a kind of Elvis Central, a one-stop-shop for information…” for everything “Elvis.” He’s definitely succeeded. In addition to his music, you’ll learn about people in his life (including romantic liaisons), people whom he was inspired by and those who were inspired by him (check out Led Zeppelin under “L”), achievements, his likes and dislikes, how he spent his Christmases and New Years, and more. If you look at “Children,” you’ll learn that, after his death, many have claimed to be his love child. There’s almost a full page under the topic of “Generosity” and “Charitable Works,” followed by “Ray Charles,” of whom he was a huge fan. You’ll also discover his strengths and frailties. Every song, every movie, every state and specific location where he played is also detailed.

Victor spent over six years in the research of this book, consulting biographers, friends, business associates, journalists, “Elvistorians,” and the like. He even states conflicting accounts, such as under the topic of “Sex Life.”

Just as enticing are the photographs from the 1950s through the 1970s, including album covers and movie posters. There’s also a wide range of photos—from performances to hanging out with friends to practicing karate. My favorite is a piercing photo from his 1958 movie, King Creole.

At almost 600 pages long, this oversized hardcover is the perfect gift for Elvis fans. Even if you’ve never really reflected on Elvis but you’re interested in music and cultural history, you’ll find this book fascinating. Every time I opened it, I’d read a topic and a question would arise; then I’d reference another…and another. In other words, this book is addicting, and it’s difficult to put down. After flipping through the pages, you’ll learn why Elvis was such an icon and how he still continues to have such an influence on our culture.

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