Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon, And The American Dream
This book by Connie Kirchberg and Marc Hendrickx examines the lives of two Americans fulfilling the so-called American Dream.
Both made it from rags to riches. There are a lot of similarities in the way these two persons made it to the top, but of course also differences. This book handles both.
By writing the biographies of these two people who briefly met in December 1970, the authors try to paint a picture of two lives which seem to have a lot more in common then expected. For us, more familiar with Elvis than with Nixon, there were some interesting eye-openers on the last one. Although we couldn't get rid of the idea that some of the comparisons are a bit sought for.
More interesting than the exact comparisons between the two man making it to the top in their own field (becoming 'The King' and the president of the USA), are the differences after making it to the top and what happened then.
As we all know Elvis made it to the top and lost his spot at the top because of the addictions that led to his death. The last couple of years only his loyal fans kept him 'on top' by still buying his records and going to his shows (even if they were not the quality they once had).
We also know the story of Richard Nixon, making it to the top of the (Capitol) Hill and tumbling down on the other side as a result of the 'Watergate' scandal. Both persons made a ‘comeback’, and we're not referring to the TV special with the same name. But there are differences. Nixon became a 'respected elder statesman' and was rehabilitated in the eyes of the general public. He lived to enjoy that.
Elvis’ rehabilitation came after his death. There are three moments most people remember what they were doing when it happened: the first man on the moon, the shooting of Kennedy and the death of Elvis, this does say something on the man and his achievements. Unfortunately he wasn't able to enjoy it.
A great pro of the book is that describing the lives of these two people from birth we also get a lot of information on Elvis parents, something which isn't seen in too many books and a nice extra for Elvis fans to complete their ‘picture’ of Elvis’ entire life. Another nice feature of the book is the appendix in which a lot of documents and pictures surrounding the Presley - Nixon meeting are presented.
Next to our opinion on the book, who can better describe it than one of the authors? Here's what Marc Hendrickx said about the book in an interview that we had with him a couple of weeks ago.
On the question "can you tell us something about your latest 'Elvis'- book?" he answered:
"This book emerged from unpublished information about Nixon I possessed but hadn't used. I got in contact with Connie Kirchberg when writing the first Presley book and talking about mutual interests this 'file' was one of them. Starting our research from there, we found a lot of comparisons in the lives of Elvis and Nixon. Not only the more trivial things, like the fact that both were born under the sign of the Capricorn, both had lost a brother early on in life and both made it from rags to riches, but, far more interesting, it turned out that the two not only perfectly fitted the bill as examples who lived 'The American Dream'. They also could be 'used' in a book to illustrate, discuss and analyse this phenomenon in a great way.
And so, the book, even though dealing with all of Nixon's and Presley's lives, in all honesty is more a study of 'The American Dream', than it is a little bitty book recalling the so-called 'chance meeting' at the White House in December '70. Believe me, there's no way this could ever be dubbed a 'chance meeting' (chuckles).
Anyway, the nature of the book is also the reason why it appeared with a scholarly type publisher, not a typical fan-aimed one. Never the less, any intelligent Presley fan with some interest in America, both as a country and as a civilisation, will greatly enjoy it too, we hope.”
'Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon, and the American Dream' is an interesting book since it goes into the backgrounds of the lives of two men we all know, the 'American Dream' is the red line used to tell the stories of these two people. These backgrounds add some interesting views on the youth of Elvis dealing with a lot of rumours surrounding his upbringing. Besides that, the view from which this book is written is different from other Presley-books which makes it also interesting. For those like us, primary interested in Elvis, we must mention there's a lot of ‘Nixon’ in this book about Elvis’ life and achievements, but we admit to be narrow-minded.