City Paper is not for tourists
Elvis sightings in grocery stores are not as common as they once were. But people who encountered the legend while he was living—among them Bethesda resident and on-call military analyst Dr. William Taylor Jr.—still have stories to tell. Elvis in the Army: The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as Seen by an Officer Who Served With Him (Presidio Press) profiles the eight months in 1958-59 that Taylor and Presley served together in a tank unit stationed in Germany. Taylor says America’s continued infatuation with the King inspired him to capitalize on his experiences, and he explains that his unique connection enabled him to “look at parts of [Presley’s] life that no one had focused on before.” Taylor began writing his book “two summers ago while on vacation, putting together memories.” As he jotted down recollections, he contacted men from his and Presley’s unit, who corroborated dates, times, and nuances. The result is mostly entertainment with a dash of geopolitical Cold War indoctrination; in the opening segment, for instance, Taylor details how he and Pvt. Presley infiltrated an opponent’s encampment during a war-game exercise, and exalts Presley’s professionalism as a soldier. Today, Taylor will admit to owning some Elvis records (“Who doesn’t?” he asks cheerfully), but tries to play down the hero worship. Reaction to another Elvis book hasn’t been ecstatic, but Taylor has some promotional dates lined up; he has taped interviews with two Japanese television programs and plans a speech next month at the Elvis Presley Room of a Memphis Shoney’s.