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All the King's Men: Restored Edition

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  952 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this classic book is generally regarded as the finest novel ever written on american politics. It describes the career of Willie Stark, a back-country lawyer whose idealism is overcome by his lust for power. New Foreword by Joseph Blotner for this fiftieth anniversary edition.
Paperback, Restored edition, 656 pages
Published September 3rd 2002 by Harcourt / Harvest (first published 2001)
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This book grabbed me by the collar and pulled me in when I picked it up at the bookstore and I couldn't breathe until I finished it.

This is exactly what American politics, in the essential or fundamental sense, are about. Innocense gets you into the game, experience gets you further, ruthlessness gets you ahead.

Its narrated with zest and sarcasm and this particular version is great because it throws in all of Warren's original extras- references, allusions, extra plot points, details, etc. More
Oct 11, 2011 Seth rated it it was amazing
My main message to would-be readers is to think carefully about which version of All the King’s Men to read. I chose the “restored” version, thinking that it was more authentic. The other choice would have been the final edition approved by the author after editorial review. That is the one familiar to generations of readers. Since I read one version and not the other, it’s hard for me to compare and contrast them.

However, I call your attention to the fact that in an exchange carried out in the
Jul 22, 2007 Emma rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books. In addition to writing novels, Robert Penn Warren was a poet laureate. When I was first introduced to this book I was told that it was a lyrical novel, which I assume means that its prose have rhythm and tempo. In addition to being a captivating story, the style of the book is constantly engaging. I love the description at the beginning of the novel when the characters are driving down a highway road in Mississippi at night. The author sets the tempo of the mome ...more
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
Up to where I have reached, I think this novel deserves five stars.
The first 100 pages were very slow and I wanted to give up bu then...came

Willie Talos
Jack Burden
Tiny Duff
Sugar Boy

Who is the protagonist? I think it's Willie Talos. The story is being nattated by Jack Burden who works for Willie Talos. He is a private investigator. Tiny Duff and Sadie Burke are campaign managers. Sugar Boy is Willie Talos' driver. Politics has affected the lives of these characters in one way or another. The
Annmarie Sheahan
May 31, 2013 Annmarie Sheahan rated it it was amazing
This is an important book. And not just because I spent my last year of my undergraduate career reading and researching it in order to write a thesis on historical fiction, and not because it was recommended to me by the most influential teacher of my life, and not because Warren won a Pulitzer Prize due to it. It just is an important book. It didn't keep my attention the whole time, and I will be the first to admit that I skimmed over several sections, and it didn't provoke the emotional reacti ...more
Feb 05, 2011 Charlie rated it it was amazing
by Robert Penn Warren

Narrator Jack Burton traces the political career of Willy Stark who goes from country bumpkin to kingpin. The story shows the underbelly of politics and how right and wrong blend together. Willy Stark described his relationship between goodness and badness; "Goodness. Yeah, just plain, simple goodness. Well you can’t inherit that from anybody. You got to make it, Doc. If you want it. And you got to make it out of badness. Badness." Willy Stark, by justifying his badness to m
Susan Merrell
May 11, 2016 Susan Merrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strange to be reading this book in this particular political season. But nobody here appears more evil than anyone we currently think of as a member of our political class. Chalk that up to television shows and movies, as well as the 24 hour news media--all of this has skewed our expectations. Now we simply expect flagrant awfulness, and are looking for the negatives, the flaws, the self-interested agenda. But here even the worst characters are far from caricature. Flawed, yes, but committed bel ...more
Feb 12, 2017 Robert rated it really liked it
Robert Penn Warren's classic political novel, All the King's Men, is grounded in two things. The first thing is the notion of the angry underdog rising up to become a political scourge of the rich and entitled and along the way losing his personal bearings by womanizing too much, drinking too much, and thumping his enemies too he ends up hoisted on the petard of his machiavellian maneuverings and what could have been isn't what finally happens. Willie Stark ends up murdered (not assass ...more
Nov 25, 2008 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, fiction
A story of American politics based loosely on the Louisiana politician Huey Long, who is a good man turned bad by his desire for power...this is what I thought the book was about. Fortunately, it was so much more. A page-turning story of family, loyalty, morality, truth, power...I could go on and on, the story was so rich. I already feel like I need to read it again, to pick up on all the things I missed. And the writing was fabulous. I usually prefer writing that is lean and concise, but Warren ...more
Susan Haines
Mar 08, 2016 Susan Haines rated it liked it
I'm thinking when this book came out with the theme of a politically corrupt politician willing to do what it takes to hang on to power, it was a bit scandalous. Reading it today, I found the plot a little ho-hum, as corrupt politicians can be found in any party and are barely anything to blink an eye over, but was more disturbed by my inability to find compassion for any of the characters, including the narrator. I also made the mistake of reading the restored version, which I think meant every ...more
Jun 07, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing
Robert Penn Warren won the Pulitzer in 1947 for this masterpiece of American literature. Although its political and philosophical relevance to today is remarkable, I loved this book even more for its language. Listen to this:
"It looked like those farm houses you ride by in the country in the middle of the afternoon, with the chickens under the trees and the dog asleep, and you know the men folks are out in the field and the woman has finished washing up the dishes and has swept the kitchen and h
Mar 19, 2016 judy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I read this as a political protest. I knew that under the character of Willie Stark was the real Huey Long--the Kingfish and demagogue of Louisiana in the 1930s. I was particularly looking forward to the end--and was not disappointed. I was surprised, however. This is not just a book about Willie--it truly is a novel where well developed characters try to work out their own lives. When I finally shed my notions about this being a Huey book, I found myself engrossed. This book is considered a cla ...more
The great American novel, yes. A still relevant story about how the idealist becomes tainted by his involvement in politics, and what it's like for his most ardent followers to wake up to that, yes. Richly drawn characters who earn your empathy, absolutely.

But my reason for loving this book is as simple as the fact that Warren's language is some of the most sensuous, essentially Southern prose that I've read.
Trevor Incogneato
Apr 18, 2015 Trevor Incogneato rated it it was amazing
this book brings me to ruin every single time.
some notes from this time around:
sister asking why i mark pages in books i reread
brother in law asking why i would ever read a book more than once

i think about this book every day. no joke

May 24, 2016 Mary rated it it was ok
Someone suggested this as a must read during an election year. Well, I took that advice to heart but found it was way too wordy for my taste. I read about 75 to 100 pages when I decided to just flip through it to get the story and then it went onto the shelf where it will stay.
Jan 30, 2017 Tracey rated it it was ok
Shelves: pulitzer, 2017
fiction (1946) - swampy politics and fatal entanglements, as seen through the eyes of 1940s misogynist governor's ex-reporter aide. This was ok; the editor's remarks at the end were more interesting than the text, but I am not much of a literary analyst, so I'd have missed all that stuff with Jack's seemingly pointlessly meandering, self-absorbed narrative. There aren't really any good characters--the men are mostly jerks/caught up in blackmail/politics/dirty business and the women are dismissed ...more
Jan 24, 2017 Coral rated it really liked it
1/4 books for Strange Louisiana class.

This book is so dense, my God.
Rowland Bismark
Jun 08, 2010 Rowland Bismark rated it really liked it
All the King's Men focuses on the lives of Willie Stark, an upstart farm boy who rises through sheer force of will to become Governor of an unnamed Southern state during the 1930s, and Jack Burden, the novel's narrator, a cynical scion of the state's political aristocracy who uses his abilities as a historical researcher to help Willie blackmail and control his enemies. The novel deals with the large question of the responsibility individuals bear for their actions within the turmoil of history, ...more
Tyler Cowart
I was really torn with rating this book. I blazed through the second half because if was really good, but it did take me 2 months to finish because the beginning was just too long. The version I read was a restored edition and having not read the original I'm not sure what was different in this edition. However, I surmise that this edition contains material that was likely cut from the original. At least that's what I tell myself because some of this book should have been cut from the beginning ...more
I was drawn to this book after it was referenced in an article written soon after the 2008 Presidential election in regards to the idealism surrounding the Obama campaign. The writer, whom I can't remember, was wondering if Obama's untarnished goodness would be sustainable once he was elected and actually had to deal with politicians and politics as usual from the inside. Evidently, All The King's Men told the story of a politician that was very much an honorable, idealistic man of the people wh ...more
Mar 25, 2013 LadyReezy rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. I don't know if I can do it justice but I'll try. I fell in love with All the King's Men. I'm sad to leave behind all this delicious, lonesome prose. If I met this book at a party I would try to take it home and fuck it.

Set in Depression-era America, this novel is greatly enhanced if you know some background on Huey P. Long (See: "Ken Burns' America: Huey Long," streaming on Netflix). But the story of Jack Burden's search for truth, both personal and political, stands on it
May 04, 2016 Tanner rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
My book club's theme this year is Banned Books and All the King's Men, described as "the finest novel ever written on American politics," was the first book selected. Based on some of the reviews, I was expecting a political lecture from one or the other side of the political spectrum. Instead, it is a richly written and deeply personal novel, less about Willie Stark the politician than about a member of his staff, Jack Burden, who acts as narrator. While there is a healthy amount of skepticism ...more
Carrie Mullins
Jul 07, 2011 Carrie Mullins rated it it was amazing
Earthy but high-faluting at the same time. Only a very skilled writer could pull that off. Some other things only a very skilled writer could pull off, and did in this book: a mid-book frolicking detour about the protagonist's long-lost ancestor who died in an army hospital in Atlanta during the Civil War, which has nothing much to do with story at hand but which the protagonist had researched for his PhD many long years before he got involved with Willie Talos (Stark); a protagonist named Jack ...more
Jan 12, 2015 Michelle rated it liked it
"She sat there, not eating much and keeping a sharp eye out for a vacant place on any plate and watching the jaws work, and as she sat there, her face seemed to smooth itself out and relax with an inner faith in the happiness the way the face of the chief engineer does when he goes down to the engine room at night and the big wheel is blurred out with its speed and the pistons plunge and return and the big steel throws are leaping in their perfect orbits like a ballet, and the whole place, under ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Donna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I thought I knew what this book was going to be about -- the fictional telling of the Huey Long story -- but it is actually a much deeper novel than that. While politics does form the basis for much of the plot line, the real story is about coming to understand and accept the divisions within oneself -- to make good out of bad. Jack Burden, the narrator, is as important (more important?) than Willie Stark to the novel and he learns that everything "touched" in life (by action or inaction) has co ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was ok
Thank God I finally finished this monstrosity! The only reason I read this was for my Popsugar reading challenge calling for a Pulitzer Prize winner. I had such high hopes for this book. It had plenty of good reviews by professional critics and Goodreads critics alike, the film based on it won best picture at the Oscars the year following its publication. But this book is trifling at best. It literally could be cut down to 150 pages if Warren had just shut up with his grand metaphors and general ...more
Nov 12, 2013 Ajj rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was too young to appreciate it. Returning to it I found that I remembered it as a book about Willie Talos when in fact it is a book about the narrator, Jack.

I enjoyed reading it a second time but found myself wanting more about Talos and less about Jack and his inability to take the offers of love and money put before him.

Warren is a master of prose and has some lovely descriptive passages, wonderful characters and fun (if dated) dialog.

I had totally forgotten and was com
Oct 03, 2007 Willie rated it really liked it
I remember being one of only two people in high school who liked this book, and i want to re-read it. I remember it being very lyrical and more about Jack, the narrator, than Willie, the more obvious protagonist.
--OK, just picked this up again. I'm surprised by the poetry. I mean, I know the man was the first poet laureate of the United States, but it's pretty incredible. Not hard to read like Melville, but certainly requires more brain power than a lot of modern fiction. I'm only a couple of pa
Aug 29, 2008 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-movie-shelf
This is my favorite book. It is so beautiful and rich. If I were stranded on a desert island and could only take one book, this would definitely be it. The language is so poetic that I wanted to read slowly, to savor each word, but the story was so intriguing that I wanted to keep reading to see what happened next. The characters are rich and diverse. They are real.
I actually bought this book on a lark, but I am so glad that I did. I thought I would get the book to see how the movie and book co
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Robert Penn Warren was an American poet, novelist, and literary critic, and was one of the founders of New Criticism. He was also a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. He won the Pulitzer in 1947 for his novel All the King's Men (1946) and won his subsequent Pulitzer Prizes for poetry in 1957 and then ...more
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“Which is nonsense, for whatever you live is Life. That is something to remember when you meet the old classmate who says, "Well now, on our last expedition up the Congo-" or the one who says, "Gee, I got the sweetest little wife and three of the swellest kids ever-" You must remember it when you sit in hotel lobbies or lean over bars to talk to the bartender or walk down a dark street at night, in early March, and stare into a lighted window. And remember little Susie has adenoids and the bread is probably burned, and turn up the street, for the time has come to hand me down that walking cane, for I got to catch that midnight train, for all my sin is taken away. For whatever you live is life” 45 likes
“Process as process is neither morally good nor morally bad. We may judge results but not process. The morally bad agent may perform the deed which is good. The morally good agent may perform the deed which is bad. Maybe a man has to sell his soul to get the power to do good.” 30 likes
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