A darkly comic, fictional trip through 1970s Americana with Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley riding shotgun. On December 21st, 1970 a drug-addled Elvis Presley showed up unannounced at the entrance gate of the White House with a handwritten request to meet with President Nixon. Elvis lamented the Beatles as a “real force for anti-American spirit” and assured the commander-in-chief, “I’m on your side.” With aides watching and flashbulbs popping, Nixon presented Elvis with an FBI Special Narcotics Agent badge; an ecstatic Elvis put his arms around the President, pulling him in for a spontaneous embrace. It was a surreal – yet undeniably real – moment in history. But the stranger-than-fiction story doesn’t end, or begin, there…
Against the backdrop of that historical meeting, Jonathan Lowy weaves a vivid web of stories about the eccentric cast of characters whose lives were forever changed by the encounter. Some of the stories are fact, some are fiction, but all are unforgettable.
We meet a colonel, who spends his tormented days at the Pentagon trying to develop the right PR spin on the My Lai massacre; an eager-beaver policy wonk, who cooks up feel-good White House programs to distract the public from the war; and a disabled black veteran, whose act of protest in a Rose Garden ceremony sets off a spectacular chain of events. In the middle of the fray stand Richard Nixon – his integrity and presidency becoming more precarious by the day – and Elvis Presley – desperately searching for what he’s lost along the way to stardom. Impossible to put down and peopled with a memorable cast of characters, Elvis and Nixon is a sleek, incisive exploration of America at a crucial tipping point.
Jonathan Lowy is the author of the novels The Temple of Music and Elvis and Nixon. Elvis and Nixon won the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook Award for Distinguished First Novel Published in the United States in 2001, as well as the… More about Jonathan Lowy