February 03 - An American Icon in a Cold War World

Bloomsbury Academic announced the release of the book "Inventing Elvis: An American Icon in a Cold War World" by Mathias Hauler with December 24, 2020 as the release date (the image is for illustration only).

Elvis stands tall as perhaps the supreme icon of 20th-century US culture. Yet he was perceived to be deeply un-American in his early years as his controversial adaptation of rhythm and blues music, and gyrating on-stage performances, sent shockwaves through Eisenhower's conservative America.

This book explores Elvis' transformation from America's 'inner enemy' into one of its most potent Cold War weapons, demonstrating the power of popular culture in shaping perceptions of the United States at home and abroad. It reveals how this process was driven by non-state actors such as journalists and record companies, who worked tirelessly to 'sell Elvis' in a hostile political environment, and then later hijacked by US propagandists; culminating in Elvis's influence on the European Cold War frontline.

Häußler demonstrates how Elvis' synonymous identity with US culture proved to be a double-edged sword, as his celebrity seemed to vindicate long-held anti-American stereotypes in Europe and Soviet propaganda about the allegedly materialistic nature of American society. This became particularly stark during the 1970s when Elvis' personal decay seemed to mirror a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate America deeply uncertain of its role in the world. 

Tracing Elvis's story from his unlikely rise in the 1950s right up to his tragic death in August 1977, this book uses new archival research to offer a riveting account of changing US identities during the Cold War, forcing us to reconsider the role of popular music and consumerism in the cultural struggle between East and West.

(Source: Nigel Patterson / Elvis Information Network)