Matt's Reviews > All the King's Men: Restored Edition

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
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's review
Feb 14, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: fictions-of-the-big-it, america-f-k-yeah, social-crit, top-shelf, modern-library-100
Read in September, 2005


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 of a good thing is always good.

Too bad Warren apparently never pulled anything like this off again. This is one of the centerpieces of American social culture. There's more than a little "Huey Long" in all our politics. Laugh about it, shout about it, when you've got to choose....

The first movie, with Broderick Crawford, is pretty good. Avoid the remake of the movie with the great Sean Penn at all costs.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Mcgyver5 (new)

Mcgyver5 I felt like I was reading about Bill Clinton too some of the time. Not to single out Clinton. I think he nails every politician.


message 2: by Duke (new) - added it

Duke And to be fair every politician nails interns.


Matt Agreed on both counts.

I've never been a very big fan of Bill Clinton, but I'd be willing to admit that he has joined the roll call of American mythology for real-live people, as I think Willie Starks (or Talos, if you prefer) as for the fictional ones.

One of the things this book really hammered home for me is that Americans don't really expect morality or righteousness from their politicos but they definitely don't want this amorality to be visible to the naked eye. What really counts is charisma, relatability, "the common touch"....


message 4: by Nfk (new)

Nfk It did the same to me I could not put it down!


message 5: by Ken (new)

Ken matt wrote: "Agreed on both counts.

I've never been a very big fan of Bill Clinton, but I'd be willing to admit that he has joined the roll call of American mythology for real-live people, as I think Willie S..."


Proof that you can fool some of the people much of the time -- esp. if you have money and a good campaign (read: BS) manager.

I was force-marched through ATKM freshman year of college. You can see the conflict here (Great Literature vs. Extreme Pitchers of Beer Marathons). I seem to remember similarities with To Kill a Mockingbird. Are their kids in the plot, with huge social and political events as a backdrop? I say Speak, Memory, but it's often mute....


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