Elvis Presley, Reluctant Rebel

His Life and Our Times

by Glen Jeansonne, David Luhrssen, and Dan Sokolovic

Print Flyer
Abortion in the United States

February 2011


Pages 232
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts

This fresh interpretation explains how an untutored musician changed music while at the same time playing an inadvertent role in the youth rebellion that has shaped the Baby Boomer generation into the 21st century.

Elvis Aaron Presley was born in a two-room house in Tupelo, MS, on January 8, 1935. He died at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977. In those 42 years, Elvis made an indelible impression on pop culture the world over. Elvis Presley, Reluctant Rebel: His Life and Our Times probes both the man and his influence, delving deeply into the personality of its protagonist, his needs and motivations, and the social and musical forces that shaped his career.

Elvis's musical talents and liabilities are explored, as are his records, films, and live performances and his relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, whom he allowed to manipulate him as a money-making machine. Readers will learn about Elvis's personal life, his devotion to conventional religious and political beliefs, and his decline into self-destruction and death. Finally, the book explores Elvis's impact on the musical and racial revolutions of the 1950s and 1960s, his legacy, and his importance in shaping a generation of Baby Boomers.


  • Photographs
  • A bibliography


  • Offers a fresh interpretation of Elvis, integrating his life into its Southern context and exploring the influence of his upbringing, as well as the downward spiral of his career after his army service
  • Analyzes Elvis's music and the synergy of his performances
  • Shows how Elvis impacted a generation of fans and influenced both his contemporary musicians and subsequent performers
  • Portrays Elvis as a conflicted, complex, powerful personality, a man of many moods with an inimitable style
Author Info

Glen Jeansonne, PhD, is professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, and holds a PhD in history from Florida State University. His publications include A Time of Paradox: America since 1890; Women of the Far Right: The Mothers' Movement and World War II; Huey at 100: Centennial Essays on Huey P. Long; Gerald L. K. Smith: Minister of Hate; and Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta.Jeansonne has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and has won a Gustavus Myers Prize, as well as the award for Best Academic Book by a Wisconsin Author. Jeansonne won two teaching awards at his university, a Lifetime Research Award and a Career Award for Accomplishments in Louisiana History and won a Presidential Scholars Award from LSU-Shreveport.

David Luhrssen is arts and entertainment editor at the Shepherd Express. He has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and Milwaukee Area Technical College, and has lectured at Marquette University and Beloit College. Luhrssen is coauthor of several books, including Changing Times: The Life of Barack Obama; Searching for Rock and Roll; and A Time of Paradox: America since 1890, and has been published in Historically Speaking, History Today, and other journals. Luhrssen received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at UW-Milwaukee.

Dan Sokolovic is a writer, editor, and magazine owner interested in cultural influences and their relationship to American popular culture and music. He is a PhD candidate in history—modern studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, specializing in post-1945 popular music in the Midwest.



"Considering how much has been written about Elvis Presley, is another book about him really necessary? In this case, the answer is an emphatic yes. Presenting a subject dear to their hearts, Jeansonne, Luhrssen, and Sokolovic offer a well-researched, entertaining volume that provides fascinating insights into Presley's life, his accomplishments, and the culture that formed him. . . . Because it is both engaging and carefully documented, the volume will serve a broad audience."—Choice

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