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All The King's Men

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All the King's Men is a 1946 novel by Robert Penn Warren. Its title is drawn from the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty". The novel tells the story of charismatic populist governor Willie Stark and his political machinations in the Depression-era Deep South. It is commonly thought to have been loosely inspired by the real-life story of U.S. Senator Huey P. Long, who was assassinated in 1935. Warren won the Pulitzer Prize for All the King's Men in 1947. The novel has received critical acclaim and remained perennially popular since its first publication. It was rated the 36th greatest novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, and it was chosen as one of Time magazine's 100 best novels since 1923. All the King's Men portrays the dramatic and theatrical political rise and governorship of Willie Stark, a cynical populist in the 1930s American South.

662 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 1946

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About the author

Robert Penn Warren

137 books606 followers
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 in 1979.

Warren was born on April 24, 1905, in Guthrie, Kentucky. He graduated from Clarksville High School in Tennessee, Vanderbilt University in 1925 and the University of California, Berkeley in 1926. Warren later attended Yale University and obtained his B. Litt. as a Rhodes Scholar from New College, Oxford, in England in 1930. That same year he began his teaching career at Southwestern College (now called Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He also taught at Vanderbilt University and LSU. In 1930, he married Emma Brescia; they later divorced in 1951. He then married Eleanor Clark in 1952. They had two children, Rosanna Phelps Warren (b. July 1953) and Gabriel Penn Warren (b. July 1955). Though his works strongly reflect Southern themes and mindset, Warren published his most famous work, All the King's Men, while a professor at The University of Minnesota and lived the latter part of his life in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Stratton, Vermont. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study in Italy during the rule of Benito Mussolini. He died on September 15, 1989, of complications from bone cancer.

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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
April 21, 2019
"Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud."

Robert Penn Warren

Robert Penn Warren is the only person to win the Pulitzer prize for fiction as well as poetry. He won the prize for fiction in 1946 for this very book. If you are lucky enough to have a great aunt who reads, and bought a lot of books in the 1940s, you might take a gander at her books some time and see if she has a first edition, first printing of this book in her library.

First edition, First printing of the 1946 edition

Depending on the condition of the dust jacket a true first will bring anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000. It will be up to you; if you decide to "liberate" the book, tucking it under your shirt, and sneaking it out with the paper bag of home made oatmeal cookies she always sends you home with. If you are not a natural felon you might just say "hey auntie couldn't you tuck this in a safety deposit box and put my name on it".

The last time I was in New Orleans they were shooting the new movie version of All the King's Men. We sat in a little cafe across from where they were setting up a shoot hoping for a glimpse of one of the marquee actors involved in the production. No luck, just film crew people bustling around trying to build a street scene. We were anxious to explore the little bookshops and artist galleries in the French Quarter, so we left before seeing anything truly interesting. I have not seen the 1949 or 2006 film versions. From the reviews I skimmed, both movies seem to struggle to capture the true essence of the book. I'm not surprised, even if they put the book through a small holed strainer, they would still have way more material than what a standard length movie can handle.

1949 Movie Poster

2006 Movie Poster

Jack Burden, newspaper reporter, finds himself following around an ambitious, well meaning, but naive candidate named Willie Stark. A man hand picked to split the vote in the primary and insure the nomination of the customary corrupt, crony, politician that Louisiana is famous for. Stark is the only person who is unaware that the fix is on. He is stumping and receiving discouraging indifference from his crowds as he tries to tell them the truth. As he finds himself on the ropes more than he is in the ring, he starts to understand that to be successful he will have to give the crowds what they want. He replaces substance with hyperbole, and Burden observes the emergence of a candidate and the corruption of an honest man. Warren based Stark on the dynamic personage of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long.

Huey P. Long

Burden soon finds himself unemployed, but Stark always liked him and gave him a prominent position on his staff. Stark, though soundly defeated, uses the time between elections to become a polished orator and electable candidate. Burden studied for a history degree in college and believes from his studies that truth will always win out. As he becomes more ensnared in the shady activities of Governor Stark's administration he starts to stumble over his own high ideas of the worthiness of truth. He tries to convince himself that he just does what the boss wants him to do. What the boss does with the information he brings him has nothing to do with him, but the longer he is involved, and the more people he knows who become victims of Stark's ambition the less distance he can claim.

"I didn't mean to cause any ruckus. I didn't think--" And all the while that cold, unloving part of the mind--that maiden aunt, that washroom mirror the drunk stares into, that still small voice, that maggot in the chess of your self-esteem, that commentator on the ether nightmare, that death's-head of lipless rationality at your every feast--all that while that part of the mind was saying: You're making it worse, your lying is just making it worse, can't you shut up, you blabbermouth!"

Burden is in love with Anne Stanton, his childhood friend and the daughter of a previous governor. Briefly they are an item and then they drift apart. Burden marries Lois, the woman who has the "peach bloom of cheeks, the pearly ripe but vigorous bosom, the supple midriff, the brooding, black, velvety-liquid eyes, the bee-stung lips, the luxurious thighs." Despite these attributes they have different goals and different ambitions and the elephant in the room is the fact that Jack is still in love with Anne. He becomes close friends with Anne again. He can't help but make allusions to the fact that his marriage proposal is still on the table. Even though she is 35 and never been married she continues to dance around the issue. Burden can't ever see her as just a friend.

"It was Anne Stanton herself, who stood there in the cool room of the looking glass, above the bar barricade of bright bottles and siphons across some distance of blue carpet, a girl--well, not exactly a girl any more, a young woman about five-feet-four with the trimmest pair of nervous ankles and smallish hips which, however, looked as round as though they had been turned on a lathe, and a waist just the width to make you wonder if you could span it with your hand, and all of this done up in a swatch of gray flannel which pretended to a severe mannish cut but actually did nothing but scream for attention to some very unmannish arrangements within."

Stark still sees himself as one of the good guys despite the number of men he has felt compelled to destroyed. He came to the conclusion that it was better to destroy them than to bribe them. If he bribes them he still has to keep those untrustworthy associates in his organization. If he destroys them they can no longer thwart his ambitious aims. He is on a self-imposed mission to use the corrupt system, but use it for good.

"Goodness. Yeah, just plain, simple goodness. Well you can't inherit that from anybody. You got to make it. If you want it. And you got to make it out of badness. Badness. And you know why? Because there isn't anything else to make it out of."

When Burden experiences the ultimate betrayal it hit me like a left hook coming out of the smokey darkness of an Oklahoma bar. I never saw it coming and I had to stagger away from the book for a while. Jack took 8 days and ran away to California. I took thirty minutes to go stand out on my deck and let some fresh air sort my scattered thoughts.

There is a whole marvelous section on Cass Mastern, Jack's relative, who provides a colorful history for Jack to research for his PHD. I almost need a separate review to handle the intricate betrayals explored by Warren in that section. I notice that the departure from the main story line bothered other reviewers. I just thought I'd been handed another thick seam of gold to be mined. I like history and I especially like family history, so I didn't mind the story in the story at all.

Political cynicism wrapped in lyrical prose makes this one of the more fascinating books I've read in many, many years. It is an honest book, exposing all the worst elements of human behavior. We are so good at fooling ourselves into thinking that when we do wrong for the greater good we are still on the side of the angels. Highly recommended!!

If anyone has any political novels that they love, and feel I should read, please send me your recommendations.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Matt.
907 reviews28.1k followers
November 8, 2020
“For this is the country where the age of the internal combustion engine has come into its own. Where every boy is Barney Oldfield, and the girls wear organdy and batiste and eyelet embroidery and no panties on account of the climate and have smooth little faces to break your heart and when the wind of the car's speed lifts up their hair at the temples you see the sweet little beads of perspiration nestling there, and they sit low in the seat with their little spines crooked and their bent knees high toward the dashboard and not too close together for the cool, if you call it that, from the hood ventilator. Where the smell of gasoline and burning brake bands and redeye is sweeter than myrrh. Where the eight-cylinder jobs come roaring around the curves in the red hills and scatter the gravel like spray, and when they ever get down in the flat country and hit the new slab, God have mercy on the mariner…”
- Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

Look, I understand that you may not want to read a political novel right now, especially not one about a populist demagogue who harnesses the rage of the people to gain power, while engaging in no small amount of corruption.

But here’s a little secret about Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. Despite its reputation, it really isn’t about politics at all. It’s about a man searching for himself by sifting back through history – his own and his family’s – and discovering a bit about the skeletons that live in the past, yet still haunt the present.

However you classify it, you should know this: All the King’s Men is a damn good read.

It is, in fact, one of my favorite books. Funnily enough, that makes it hard to talk about.

It’s easy to explain the things about a book you did not like. Poorly-drawn characters, lazy plotting, and clueless pacing are simple to highlight. It’s much harder to express appreciation or even love, because so much of that is tangled up in an emotional response that can be intensely personal.

I first read All the King’s Men at a turning point in my life. I had just passed the bar exam, I was engaged to be married, and I was weeks away from my first real job. It was in that heady environment that Penn Warren’s classic first came into my hands. To be honest, at that moment in time, I’d probably give a five-star rating to an Arby’s menu. Thus, it’s a bit hard for me to separate the objective from the subjective in formulating a review. In fact, instead of scratching out my thoughts, it’d be far easier to simply strip naked and run around the block screaming Robert Penn Warren’s many virtues at the top of my lungs. Since local law enforcement has asked me to stop doing that, I’ll try to put it into complete sentences.

All the King’s Men is a novel about local politics, back room deals, and bombastic speeches; it is about greed and corruption, secrets and lies, vendettas and murder; it is about the dreams of youth, the realities of age, and love.

At the center of this gloriously overstuffed novel is Willie Stark, who Penn Warren based on Louisiana’s Huey “the Kingfish” Long. When All the King’s Men opens, Stark is a small-time politico in an unnamed southern state who is tapped by the local Democratic bosses to run for governor. Unbeknownst to Willie, he has been asked to run in order to split the so-called “rube vote.” When Willie finds out he's been duped, he gets angry, and sets out to campaign as a vengeful populist with nothing to lose.

Over time, and with a plot contrivance or two, Willie climbs the ladder to real power, able to do good things like building roads and schools and hospitals. A real man of the people. Unfortunately, for Willie, his definition of “man” is not altogether sparkling, as expressed in his famous motto:

Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the diddy to the stench of the shroud.

While the larger-than-life Willie gets top billing, he is not actually the central personage of Penn Warren’s opus. Indeed, All the King’s Men is about Willie Stark in the same way that Moby Dick was about Ahab. Stark, like Ahab, is the center of gravity, but not necessarily the focus. The story flows through them but is not necessarily about them. Instead, the main character here is really Jack Burden, the first-person narrator of All the King’s Men. It is Jack with whom we spend most of our time. It is through Jack, a natural cynic, that we gain our perceptions of Willie as an increasingly ambitious, unstoppable force:

“So you work for me because you love me,” the Boss said.

“I don't know why I work for you, but it's not because I love you. And not for money.”

“No,” he said, standing there in the dark, “you don't know why you work for me. But I know...”

“Why?” I asked.

“Boy,” he said, “you work for me because I'm the way I am and you're the way you are. It is an arrangement founded on the nature of things.”

Jack, like Melville’s Ishmael, has a lot to say. Unlike Ishmael, Jack is actually interesting most of the time. He is a former history student who begins the novel as a journalist and later joins Willie’s campaign. If I’m being honest, he’s a bit of a navel-gazing narcissist, with a penchant for long, digressionary detours that force you to pay close attention. For all the side-paths and narrative excursions, which see Jack putting together the mysteries of his youth, I was never less than fully engaged.

The reason – and the determining factor in whether you love or hate this novel (there seems to be no in-between – is Penn Warren’s distinctive style. He was a poet by trade – the nation’s first poet laureate, actually – and his writing takes on certain cadences, like poetry, that had an effect on me that I felt but cannot accurately describe. One element that jumps out are his long, detail-packed sentences, filled with rhythm and repetition, sentences that start one way, seem to veer off, then loop back to their origin. It can be exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I don’t like overwritten books, but though this came close at times, it always stayed on the right side of the line.

All the King’s Men is a novel that is more than a bit skeptical of the realities of American politics. Every bit of good in Willie is balanced by a bit of bad. The constant horse trading, in which ideals have less currency that expediencies, holds true today. Yet for all that, there is also more than a strain of unabashed sentimentalism in All the King’s Men. For all its uncertainty about politicians, it is more sure about humans in general. There is, for example, a beautiful passage where Jack is ruminating about falling in love:

[F]or when you get in love you are made all over again. The person who loves you has picked you out of the great mass of uncreated clay which is humanity to make something out of, and the poor lumpish clay which is you wants to find out what it has been made into. But at the same time, you, in the act of loving somebody, become real, cease to be part of the continuum of the uncreated clay and get the breath of life in you and rise up. So you create yourself by creating another person, who, however, has also created you, picked up the you-chunk of clay out of the mass. So there are two you's, the one you yourself create by loving and the one the beloved creates by loving you. The farther these two you's are apart the more the world grinds and grudges on its axis. But if you loved and were loved perfectly then there wouldn't be any difference between the two you's or any distance between them. They would coincide perfectly, there would be perfect focus, as when a stereoscope gets the twin images on the card into perfect alignment.

It is a surprising bit of writing to find in a book that has been sold – since the time it was first published – as a bracingly cleareyed look at the dark side of democracy.

To be sure, Penn Warren does not neglect that angle, and All the King’s Men is both a very particular Roman à clef about Huey Long, and also a general indictment of the political process as a whole, where gaining power requires convincing a bunch of people that you are what they want you to be.

All the King’s Men, however, has achieved its timelessness because it is far more than a fictionalized version of a New Deal-era public servant who lost his way. It is a novel filled with ornate prose and memorable passages and excellent dialogue, and which is populated by characters that are hard to forget. Though it is sometimes as slow as a summer afternoon in the deep south, it creates a world that you are in no real hurry to leave.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
May 11, 2022
All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren

All the King's Men is a novel by Robert Penn Warren first published in 1946. Its title is drawn from the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. In 1947, Warren won the Pulitzer Prize for All the King's Men. It was adapted for a film in 1949 and 2006; the 1949 version won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is rated as the 36th greatest novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, and it was chosen as one of Time magazine's 100 best novels.

All the King's Men portrays the dramatic and theatrical political rise and governorship of Willie Stark, a cynical, liberal populist in the American South during the 1930's. The novel is narrated by Jack Burden, a political reporter who comes to work as Governor Stark's right-hand man. The trajectory of Stark's career is interwoven with Jack Burden's life story and philosophical reflections: "the story of Willie Stark and the story of Jack Burden are, in one sense, one story."

تاریخ خوانش نسخه اصلی: روز یازدهم سال2007میلادی

عنوان: همه مردان پادشاه؛ نویسنده رابرت پن وارن ؛ مترجم: یوسف سلیمان‌ سالم؛ تهران: نشر تیسا، سال 1397؛ در570ص؛ شابک9786006662046؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

کتاب «تمام مردان شاه» اثری از: «رابرت پن وارن» است؛ برای نخستین بار در سال1946میلادی منتشر شده، و عنوان آن برگرفته از اشعار کودکان، و شعری به نام «هامتی دامتی» است؛ در سال1947میلادی «وارن» برای نگارش این کتاب، «جایزه ی پولیتزر» را به دست آوردند، از این کتاب فیلم‌هایی در سال1949میلادی و سال2006میلادی اقتباس شده اند، فیلم نسخه ی سال1949میلادی این اثر، برنده ی جایزه ی اسکار بهترین فیلم سال شد، کتاب به عنوان سی و ششمین اثر برگزیده، از بهترین رمان‌های سده ی بیستم میلادی از سوی کتابخانه ی مدرن برگزیده شد، مجله ی «تایم» این کتاب را به عنوان یکی از صد رمان برتر پس از سال1923میلادی برگزید

این کتاب «رابرت پن وارن» بر اساس یک سری از ماجراهای راستین نگاشته شده، و نویسنده با الهام گرفتن از آن ماجراها که شامل زندگی یکی از سیاستمداران عوامگرای «جنوب آمریکا»، به نام «ویلی استارک» در طول دهه ی1930میلادی است، راوی این داستان شخصی است به نام «جک بوردن»، یک خبرنگار سیاسی، که آمده تا به عنوان دست راست فرمانده «استارک»، و در کنار او کار کند، مسیر زندگی حرفه‌ ای و سیاسی «استارک» با داستان «جک بوردن» بازتابی فلسفی به خود گرفته، و به گونه‌ ای شامل دو داستان شده، داستان «ویلی استارک» و داستان «جک بوردن» در یک معنای کلی، کتاب به شکلی بازتاب کننده ی کارهای اخیر «رابرت پن وارن» است ایشان مدعی بودند که که کتاب «همه ی مردان شاه» از دید او کتابی نیست که درباره ی سیاست باشد

تاریخ نخستین خوانش 18/03/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 20/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Heather.
187 reviews3 followers
May 1, 2008
Compelling, overstuffed, overplotted, sexist, labyrinthine, poetic, atmospheric. To me this book's status as The Great American Political Novel seems like a terrific bitter joke, because the author's vision of "politics" is comprised entirely of blackmail, physical intimidation, pork-barreling, rabble-rousing, nepotism, bribery, rigged elections, and hilariously contrived "family values" photo shoots. (I love the scene where a photographer and two aides attempt to wrestle a comatose, foul-smelling dog into position for a shot of the dog leaping up to greet its beloved master, the Governor!)

I would place this novel in the Philosophical Potboiler genre (together with "East of Eden" and "Sophie's Choice"). There are lengthy meditations on the Human Condition, the nature of History, the problem of Free Will, the Original Sin of slavery as a hereditary taint corrupting the southern upper class, etc... woven among scenes featuring such archetypes as the Angelic Woman (Anne Stanton), the Demonic Woman (Sadie Burke, and Cass Mastern's mistress), the Saintly Aesthete and Crypto-Homosexual (Adam Stanton), the Seductive Mother, the "Colonel Sanders" With a Secret (Judge Irwin), and What's Bred in the Bone Coming Out in the Flesh (Tom Stark, the embodiment of his father's egoism and brutality). In the ranks of minor characters we find the Long-Suffering Wife in the Country (Mrs. Stark), and Flannery O'Connor-style Mad Missionary (Jack's father). What an array!

There are a number of rather heavy-handed themes, of which I thought the most interesting was the contrast between Jack the self-identified "student of history" and product of History, and Willie the man without a history... no family, no formal education, no tradition, nothing to explain his ambition, charisma, ruthlessness, and power over others. There seems to be a trade-off between History and Act. Jack is Burdened by the past at every level -- his parents' broken marriage, his half-mad father, his unfinished dissertation, the end of the plantation class's reign in Southern politics, the guilt of slavery. He lives in a fog of depression, cynicism, sophistication, and rationalization. He is fascinated by Willie at their first meeting because Willie is his opposite: an earnest rube who seems unaware of his own dorkiness and believes the political game could and should be played fair.

But Willie isn't just a naif. He's also a kind of monster. Even at that early stage there's a monstrous ego and ambition germinating inside him... ambition not for political goals but for personal power and domination. Where does his ambition come from? What sets Willie apart from any other impoverished child of dirt farmers in any other wretched little town like Mason City? And which side is the true Willie Stark -- the idealist who fights on behalf of poor farmers and families, the builder of new roads and schools and hospitals, or the bully who fights for the sadistic joy of humiliating and dominating others?

These mysteries haunt the novel, and Penn Warren never offers a solution. Willie remains an enigma from start to finish. In fact I felt that Penn Warren wrote himself into a corner - he COULDN'T solve the enigma of Willie Stark's origins and essential nature, so he shifted focus to the more solvable mysteries in Jack Burden's past.

I don't think the Jack Burden plot has aged particularly well. It has the kind of heavy-handed Freudianism you see in 1950s movies... the seductive mother, the discovery of the True Father; the taboo of virginity; the sorting of women into angels and whores, spirits and bodies. Almost every character has at least one light or dark "double" (Willie/Jack, Willie/Adam, Jack/Adam, Sadie/Ann, Burden/Irwin, Lois/Ann, etc), which is very schematic. The happy ending is only achieved by the death/disappearance of everyone but Jack and Ann... they don't so much overcome or escape the Burden of history as have history conveniently relax its grip on them.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,478 followers
November 20, 2019
This was a wonderful book. I listened to it on Audible, but it was so well-written that I have ordered hard-copy as well. The story of Willie Stark and Jack Burden (which are the same story as the narrator says) is both poignant and realistic. Seen through the cynical and poetic eyes of Burden, the Southern cronyism of Huey Long is parodied here (and honestly reminds me of recent and current American political history). The writing is absolutely spectacular - Penn Warren is the only person ever to win Pulitzers for both Fiction and Poetry and even his prose here is chock-full of vivid images and analogies. I loved all the characters: Sugarboy, Ann and Adam Stanton, the Judge, Jack's mother, Sadie...each one is perfectly crafted even when they are somewhat one-dimensional, there is still humanity in each of them. The one negative is the use of the n-word, but I suppose that Jack would have spoken this way and that back in '46 when it was written, attitudes were definitely different. That being said, Jack does seem to take some offense at how blacks are treated (he is less obliging about women in my view), despite his nihilism towards everyone and everything else. The side story of Cass was excellent as well. There is almost nothing to fault in this book and it deserves a place up with the greatest American 20th century fiction. Five stars hands-down.
Profile Image for Intellectual_Thighs.
235 reviews340 followers
February 10, 2021
Το 1928 γερουσιαστής της Λουιζιάνα εκλέχτηκε ένας αμφιλεγόμενος πολιτικός που ονομαζόταν Huey Long, έφτασε στη Γερουσία έχοντας μεγάλη λαϊκή αποδοχή μέχρι το 1935 οπότε και δολοφονήθηκε. Ο Long θεωρείται η προσωποποίηση του λαϊκισμού και σύνθημά του ήταν το "Everyman a king".

Παίρνοντας στοιχεία από αυτή τη φιγούρα, ο Warren έφτιαξε τον Willie Stark, έναν δικηγόρο ταπεινής καταγωγής που ανέβηκε στα ανώτατα πολιτικά αξιώματα όταν συνειδητοποίησε ότι για να πάρει το λαό με το μέρος του, θα έπρεπε να πείσει ότι είναι και ο ίδιος κομμάτι του. Άνθρωπος καλών προθέσεων, ο Stark μεταμορφώνεται σελίδα τη σελίδα σε επαγγελματία δημαγωγό που χειραγωγεί, απειλεί, δωροδοκεί, εκμεταλλεύεται ό,τι και όποιον χρειαστεί αρκεί να φέρει αποτέλεσμα. Την ιστορία αφηγείται ο Jack Burden, ο κυνικός και χωρίς φιλοδοξίες βοηθός του, ίσως ο πιο γοητευτικός αφηγητής που έχω συναντήσει, το μέσο με το οποίο ο Warren εμφανίζει τις δικές του σκέψεις-ερεθίσματα για βαθύτερα υπαρξιακά ερωτήματα και έννοιες, μέσα σε μια πλοκή που σε τραβάει εντός της και μια πραγματικά υπέροχη πρόζα.
Χαρακτήρες με βάθος, όλοι οι άνθρωποι του βασιλιά περιφέρονται γύρω απ'τη λάμψη της εξουσίας άλλοτε νευρικά και άλλοτε υπνωτισμένα, ακροβατούν ανάμεσα στο καλό και το κακό, έννοιες που μπερδεύονται απ'την πολυπλοκότητα της ζωής και το βάρος που έχει η λήψη αποφάσεων. Γιατί όλοι μας τρελαινόμαστε για βοδινές μπριζόλες, δεν αντέχουμε όμως όλοι να πάμε στο σφαγείο.

Ο τίτλος του βιβλίου είναι από ένα παιδικό τραγούδι για ένα ανθρωπόμορφο αυγό, τον Humpty Dumpty:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Σε όλο το βιβλίο κυριαρχεί η ευθραυστότητα. Της ηθικής, του σωστού, της αλήθειας, όλων αυτών των εννοιών που τελικά αξίζουν και που είναι πιο εύκολο να διαλυθούν. Που πρέπει να τυλίγουμε με χίλια δυο προστατευτικά γιατί όταν διαλυθούν, ακόμα και όλοι οι άνθρωποι του βασιλιά δεν μπορούν να τις κολλήσουν ξανά.

* Και έρχομαι εδώ να κάνω ένα μικρό πολιτικό σχόλιο, σκεπτ��μενη τους πανηγυρισμούς για την ήττα του Τραμπ. Κι όμως, δεν ηττήθηκε. Ο Τραμπ ίσως έφυγε, ο τραμπισμός ρίζωσε. Και όλα τα άλογα του βασιλιά και όλοι οι άνθρωποι του βασιλιά δεν θα καταφέρουν να τον ξεριζώσουν και να φτιάξουν το κακό που έγινε. ΠΟΛΛΑ ΦΙΛΑΚΙΑ ΣΑΣ ΕΥΧΟΜΑΙ 😘😘😘
Profile Image for Lorna.
652 reviews352 followers
October 2, 2022
All the King's Men written in 1946 by author Robert Penn Warren won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1947. And what a book it was. Years ago on one of my first trips to New Orleans, I was enthralled with the culture, the history and the mystique that just screamed from the the banks of the Mississippi River. And one of my most memorable moments was riding over the Huey P Long Bridge spanning Lake Ponchetrain while the bus driver regaled us all with his many stories about Huey P Long. Because you see, Huey P Long was a populist and the flamboyant governor of the state of Louisiana in the late 1920s. And this sprawling historical fiction novel is based on his life and career in Louisiana government in the fictional character of Governor Willie Stark. But it is really the story of Jack Burden, his aide and as a former newspaper correspondent, deep into historical research. Now I have to admit, that I loved the character of Jack Burden on so many levels as he attempts to come to terms with where he is in this world.

"The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can't know. He can't know whether the knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it, would save him. There's the cold in your stomach, but you open the envelope, you have to open the envelope, for the end of man is to know."

And the favorite saying of Governor Willie Stark was:

"Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didiee to the stench of the shroud. There is always something."

But Jack Burden trying to come to terms with his life heads climbs into his roadster and starts driving west to the California coast for a week as he grapples with new realizations in his life. And a memorable quote:

And you can go back in good spirits, for you will have learned two very great truths. First, that you cannot lose what you have never had. Second, that you are never guilty of a crime which you did not commit. So there is innocence and a new start in the West, after all. If you believe the dream, you dream when you go there."
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,851 reviews16.4k followers
June 19, 2019
Robert Penn Warren's, All the Kings Men won the 1947 Pulitzer prize, and could also have won that prize in the next three years. 

Is this 400 pages of poetic prose or a great epic prosaic poem? This work would make a great primer for college English lit majors, I think Warren used every literary device and may have made up some more. 

And like so many master performances of art or sport, he makes it look effortless, he makes it look easy. This was like watching Joe DiMaggio glide across the outfield or Ted Williams at the plate, or Led Zeppelin on stage, this was swaggering virtuosity. 

Telling the fictionalized account of Huey Long, Warren goes on to create the great American novel. Though the setting is politics, the book is not really about politics, the political stage is just a vehicle by which Warren explores a multi-layered, complicated series of thematic, interwoven observations on Western Civilization, and particularly our American chapter in that saga.

This is periodically correct and yet timeless. Beautifully written and absolutely brilliant.

Profile Image for Lawyer.
384 reviews828 followers
October 6, 2014
All the King's Men: Robert Penn Warren's Spider Web

This Novel was chosen as a group read by members of On the Southern Literary Trail for July 2012 and again in October,2014.

"It all began, as I have said, when the Boss, sitting in the black Cadillac which sped through the night, said to me (to Me who was what Jack Burden, the student of history, had grown up to be) "There is always something."
And I said, "Maybe not on the Judge."
And he said, "Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something."

 photo all_the_kings_men1_zps42b3871e.jpg
There is always something, even on the Judge. Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark, John Ireland as Jack Burden, and Adam Greenleaf as Judge Stanton from the 1949 film. The film changed the identity of Judge Irwin to Judge Stanton. A slight problem with the object of Jack's romance.>


First Edition, Harcourt Brace & Jovanovich, 1946

If you're expecting a fictional recounting that serves as a short cut to T. Harry William's masterful biography of Huey Long this isn't it.


But Williams does have something to say that pointedly echoes the themes Robert Penn Warren wove into a masterpiece of American politics.

"I believe that some men, men of power, can influence the course of history. They appear in response to conditions, but they may alter the conditions, may give a new direction to history. In the process they may do great good or evil or both, but whatever the case they leave a different kind of world behind them.", p.ix, Preface, T. Harry Williams, Huey Long,Alfred A. Knopf, 1969.

That Willie Stark is a stand in for Huey Long, Robert Penn Warren frankly admits. I was fortunate to find the Thirty-Fifth Edition of the novel, published in 1981. It contained a new, and very informative introduction by Warren.

Warren did not originally envision this work as a novel, but as a tragic drama entitled "Proud Flesh." Warren ended up putting that manuscript away. He realized that he had focused on a man of power rather than those few people who are always surrounding that man of power, and in writing All the King's Men, Warren focused on the "Greek" chorus to whom he had not given proper voice in his originally conceived work.

So, there we have the title, "All the King's Men," the chorus that relates the rise and fall of Willie Stark. For all great men have an inner circle, some of whom are as vague as phantoms, performing the will of the King and they will perform that will whether it be good or evil. But all the King's Men cannot put Humpty Dumpty together again should the King fall.

Warren proposes the question of whether those minions are mere pawns or whether they recognize the consequences of their actions and accept responsibility for them, and if so, can they find redemption for the evil they do, even when it is couched in terms of doing good. Willie Stark, the Boss, is a practical man. So, politics is a dirty business. He tells us,

"Dirt's a funny thing, come to think of it, there ain't a thing but dirt on this green God's globe except what's under water, and that's dirt too. It's dirt makes the grass grow. A diamond ain't a thing in the world but a piece of dirt that got awful hot. And God-a-Mighty picked up a handful of dirt and blew on it and made you and me and George Washington and mankind blessed in faculty and apprehension. It all depends on what you do with the dirt.">

Jack Burden is a one man Greek Chorus that tells us the story of Willie Stark. And it is Jack Burden who provides the moral center of the novel. In one long narrative voice, Jack, a child of privilege, intrigues us relating the present and the past, not only Willie's but his own. Willie's rise is rather straight forward. As Williams tells us in Long's biography, Willie appears on the Louisiana scene in response to conditions of the Great Depression, which seemingly provided the fuel for Populism common to that era.

Jack comes from a level of society that comprised the previous leaders of Louisiana, a class who would forever be opposed to a man of Willie Stark's origin and philosophy. He is the friend of Adam and Anne Stanton, the children of the governor preceding Stark. His mentor is Judge Irwin who advised and influenced Jack from his youth. His father, Ellis Burden, the "scholarly lawyer" is a good friend of the Judge. His mother is beautiful, poised, and confident.

So, why would Ellis Burden walk out of his law office one day to become a street evangelist? But Jack's mother has no problem keeping a stream of husbands in her bed. It's enough to make a fellow a little cynical. Rebellious, too. Rebellious enough to go to State University and study history.

Jack has a future. He's working on his doctorate, studying the papers of an ancestor named Cass Mastern. The papers of Mastern serve as a mirror of Jack's life. But Mastern, who betrayed a friend by having a love affair with his friend's wife, lives the rest of his life with the knowledge of that betrayal. It is Cass who writes in his journal,

The world is all of one piece. He learned that the world is like an enormous spider web and if you touch it, however lightly, at any point, the vibration ripples to the remotest perimeter and the drowsy spider feels the tingle and is drowsy no more but springs out to fling the gossamer coils about you who have touched the web and then inject the black, numbing poison under your hide. It does not matter whether or not you meant to brush the web of things. Your happy foot or your gay wing may have brushed it ever so lightly, but what happens always happens and there is the spider, bearded black and with his great faceted eyes glittering like mirrors in the sun, or like God’s eye, and the fangs dripping."

The long and the short of it is that our actions have consequences and we owe a responsibility for the consequences of our actions. This is a premise that Jack would rather reject.

Rather, Jack grasps on to the theory of the "Great Twitch," a world in which the actions of people are no more controllable than the muscles of a frog's leg twitching in response to an electrical impulse. However it is Cass Mastern who was correct. In rejecting his ancestor's journal, Jack becomes the cynical, wisecracking news reporter assigned to cover Willie Stark's first gubernatorial election. It is Jack Burden, along with savvy political advisor Sadie Burke who tell Stark he's been duped into running to split the vote of the opposing candidate to bring about the win by yet another politician.

 photo JackandSadie_zps7f93f79c.jpg
Jack Burden and Sadie Burke telling Willie he's been had.

It is that campaign that transforms not only Willie Stark into a Kingfish lookalike, but transforms Jack into Stark's most trusted fix it man. "Maybe not the Judge." Oh, yes, even the Judge. And so it is that a chain of consequences begins to be unveiled, each the result of a deliberate, undeniable action.

Even the death of Willie Stark is a consequence of one of the Boss's improvident decisions. As Warren wrote,

"The end of man is knowledge but there's one thing he can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it would save him."

 photo StarkHospital_zps4ad098cf.jpg
Do the ends justify the means? Can Willie Stark find redemption?

Willie's death comes about, not from an assassin who believes him to be a dictator, but for a very personal reason. Nor will I even resort to a spoiler alert. I'm simply not going to tell you, because I want you to read this book.

And what of Jack? I will share the final sentence, and I remind you that Jack is the narrator.

"Go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and the awful responsibility of Time."

Perhaps Jack Burden has come to terms with his ancestor, Cass Mastern.

To say this is a masterpiece about American politics is true. But it goes much further than that. It is a reminder that the past is the father of the future. They are inevitably inseparable.


Huey Long: The Man Behind Willie Stark

Huey Long's "Share the Wealth Speech"

Huey Long on the Difference between Democrats and Republicans

The Assassination of Huey Long

A Biographical Documentary of Robert Penn Warren

Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men, and Huey Long WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS


Louisana 1927 by Randy Newman

Kingfish by Randy Newman

Every Man a King, written and sung by Huey Long.

Profile Image for Stratos.
859 reviews84 followers
December 9, 2020
Λέξη, λέξη, φράση, φράση ξεδιπλώθηκε η ιστορία, με τα πρόσωπα να βυθίζονται στην δίνη των εσωτερικών αδυναμιών τους, μαγεμένοι από την φιλοδοξία και το χρήμα. Το νόημα σαφές με το συμπέρασμα τους να δίνει το άλλοθι στις όποιες αποφάσεις τους: "Το καλό προκύπτει από το κακό"!
Οι χαρακτήρες υφαίνονται με μοναδικό τρόπο, η ιστορία τρέχει με εναλλασσόμενους ρυθμούς και χαρακτήρες, η κοινωνία σμπαραλιάζεται από εξουσιαστές αλλά βυθίζεται από τους παρατρεχάμενους της.
Νοιώθεις ένα μαύρο πέπλο να σε σκεπάζει όσο διαβάζεις το βιβλίο. Μια ασπρόμαυρη ταινία αποτυπωμένη στις σελίδες.
Θα μπορούσα να καταγράψω δεκάδες προτάσεις, φράσεις από το βιβλίο εντυπωσιάζοντας σας. Όχι όμως. Η κάθε φράση, το νόημα της είναι συνδεδεμένο με την ύφανση αλλά και τους χαρακτήρες του βιβλίου. Χώρια χάνει αυτή την κρούστα που δημιουργεί αυτό που αποκαλούμε αριστούργημα.

Ένα μόνο σας συνιστώ. Ξεκινήστε να διαβάζετε το βιβλίο από ΣΗΜΕΡΑ.... Α και κάτι τελευταίο. Καλού κακού έχετε δίπλα κανά στυλό να γράφετε ή να υπογραμμίζεται προτάσεις, φράσεις παραγράφους του βιβλίου. Δεν θα το ... χαλάστε. Θα του δώστε τη ζωή αλλά κυρίως θα ταυτιστείτε με τους χαρακτήρες απολαμβάνοντας τη ροή του κειμένου
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book462 followers
September 13, 2022
I have put this book on my schedule at least a dozen times in the last two years and then passed it up because I felt I just could not tackle a book about politics. Stupid me. This book is about political shenanigans, lust for power, and greed, but it is so much more about human relationships, the complex ways in which our lives are tied to the people who float in and out of our lives, and how we choose to judge ourselves and others.

At one point in the narrative Willie Stark says that everything in life is bad, and that goodness is something man must create from the bad he is given. It is much “the ends justify the means” for Willie, and we see, like a slow-motion reel, as that philosophy leads him and his followers deeper into a quicksand. It is this that makes the novel work so perfectly, for Penn Warren does not create any perfect individuals here, each of them is flawed and very, very real. One of his major themes is that of responsibility. When are we responsible for what happens to us or around us? Can we shuffle off bad events to fate, or do we have to accept our role in them, however small or untraceable that role might be?

There is that weighty, intelligent element of this book, and believe me when I say this book is about something on every single page; but there is also the remarkable command of language that comes from the heart of the poet who is Robert Penn Warren. Long passages of lyrical quality are peppered throughout, and not once did I have the temptation to skip a single word. In fact, I read many of them more than once.

Her eyes were glittering like the eyes of a child when you give a nice surprise, and she laughed with a sudden throaty, tingling way. It is the way a woman laughs for happiness. They never laugh that way just when they are being polite or at a joke. A woman only laughs that way a few times in her life. A woman only laughs that way when something has touched her way down in the very quick of her being and the happiness just wells out as natural as breath and the first jonquils and mountain brooks. When a woman laughs that way it always does something to you. It does not matter what kind of a face she has got either. You hear that laugh and feel that you have grasped a clean and beautiful truth. You feel that way because that laugh is a revelation. It is a great impersonal sincerity. It is a spray of dewy blossom from the great central stalk of All Being, and the woman’s name and address hasn’t got a damn thing to do with it. Therefore, the laugh cannot be faked. If a woman could learn to fake it she would make Nell Gwyn and Pompadour look like a couple of Campfire Girls wearing bifocals and ground-gripper shoes with bands on their teeth. She could get all society by the ears. For all any man really wants is to hear a woman laugh like that.
Come on–is that not heavenly?

Finally, there is an entire chapter, about half-way through the book, that is devoted to another story entirely. Our narrator, Jack Burden, recounts a history he researched for his college thesis, and tells us the history of Cass Mastern. I was engrossed in this tale, but wondered how Penn Warren was ever going to link it to the other, modern, political tale he was writing. Suffice it to say, he does, and with such a delicate hand that it seems like a gossamer thread that was lying, waiting to be pulled at just the right moment. I think this might have felt like a disruption in the wrong hands, with Penn Warren it is just another bit of magic.

I am reading all the Pulitizer winners for a challenge I set for myself in 2016. I have not always been impressed with the acumen of the Pulitzer Committee, but this time, oh my, yes, they got it right. This book is timeless, for it is about humanity, and in many ways, no matter the outward transformations time brings, humans do not change.
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 2 books675 followers
November 5, 2022
This book offers a profound study of human fallibility, and is easily the best book I've ever read on politics.
Profile Image for Libby.
575 reviews157 followers
September 28, 2022
This novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 and is the work for which Warren is most known. He also received the Pulitzer for Poetry in 1958 and 1979. I read this one at the beginning of this month. This is an absolutely fine novel with some gorgeous, thoughtful, and insightful writing. It's got morality and ethics and how it ties into politics and how flawed we are as human beings even as we're trying to reach some depth in our characters.

Warren probes the characters of Willie Stark, the politician, and Jack, the narrator, who works for Willie. I don't always like Jack, but for the most part, Warren enables me to understand him. Jack comes across as a fish in Willie Stark's net; he doesn't have enough steam to swim against Stark's current. As for Stark, the quote "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" comes to mind.

Penn's style of writing is what held me to this novel. He can bend a simile to do his bidding and polish it with stardust. I was riveted.

The moonlight lay on the slightly ruffling water like a swath of brilliant white, cold fire. You expected to see that white fire start eating out over the whole ocean the way fire in a sage field spreads. But it lay there glittering and flickering in a broad nervous swath reaching out yonder to the bright horizon blur.

I felt like I was setting down to a feast with prose like this. Gorgeous and vivid imagery burst into my mind with color, painting a picture that often brought with it an emotional effect.

His straightforward prose was just as effective.

Just as I climbed in beside Sugar-Boy, in the place the Boss always took, I heard the burst of music from the apartment house. The window was open and the music was very loud. Adam was beating the hell out of that expensive piano, and filling the night air with racket like Niagara Falls.

The above sentence followed a tension filled scene that made me feel like I'd just tumbled out of the OK Corral.

Throw in a little philosophy:

For Life is Motion toward Knowledge. If God is Complete Knowledge, then He is Complete Non-Motion, which is Non-Life, which is Death. Therefore, if there is such a God of Fullness of Being, we would worship Death, the Father. That was what I said to the old man, who had looked at me across the papers and fouled dishes, and his red-streaked eyes had blinked above the metal-rimmed spectacles, which had hung down on the end of his nose.

And you've got a mighty fine novel.
Profile Image for Ζαν.
29 reviews
January 28, 2021
Δεν έχω λόγια να περιγράψω το πόσο αγάπησα αυτό το βιβλίο και πόσο απολαυστική ήταν η ανάγνωσή του, απ'την αρχή ως το τέλος. O Robert Penn Warren κι ο Τζακ Μπέρντεν,ο χαρακτήρας, μέσω του οποίου επιλέγει να μας αφηγηθεί την ιστορία του Κυβερνήτη Willie Stark αποτελεί μια από τις πιο γοητευτικές μυθιστορηματικές φωνές, που έχω συναντήσει. Σ' αυτό συμβάλλει η πλοκή του έργου κι οι χαρακτήρες που εμπλέκονται στην ιστορία, χαρακτήρες τόσο σωστά δουλεμένοι και ολοκληρωμένοι, που αποκτούν σάρκα και οστά και νιώθεις την ανάσα τους, ενώ διατρέχεις τις σελίδες του βιβλίου. Όλοι αυτοί όμως, αποκαλύπτονται στον αναγνώστη μέσω ενός ευφυούς, ειρωνικού και διεισδυτικού παρατηρητή, ο οποίος παραθέτοντάς μας τα γεγονότα μιας ιστορίας, που θα μπορούσε να ειδωθεί ως μια ανατριχιαστικά ακριβής ανατομία της εξουσίας, ανακαλύπτει κι ο ίδιος τον εαυτό του, έναν εαυτό ανθρώπινο, πάρα πολύ ανθρώπινο.

"Όμως έπρεπε να μάθω. Ακόμα και τη στιγμή που μου περνούσε η σκέψη να σηκωθώ και να φύγω χωρίς να έχω μάθει, ακόμα και τότε ήξερα ότι έπρεπε να μάθω την αλήθεια. Γιατί είναι φοβερό πράγμα η αλήθεια. Τσαλαβουτάς λιγάκι μέσα της και δεν τρέχει τίποτα. Αν κάνεις όμως πως πας λίγο πιο μέσα, αρχίζει να σε τραβάει σαν αντιμάμαλο, σαν ρουφήχτρα. Το πρώτο τράβηγμα είναι αργό, τόσο σταθερό και βαθμιαίο, που καλά καλά δεν το παίρνεις είδηση, μετά αρχίζει η επιτάχυνση, μετά μια ιλιγγιώδης περιδίνηση και η καταβύθιση στο έρεβος. Γιατί υπάρχει και το έρεβος της αλήθειας. Λέγεται πως το να πέσεις στη Χάρη του Θεού είναι φριχτό. Δεν δυσκολεύομαι να το πιστέψω."
Κάτι που μου θύμησε τη γνωστή ρήση του David Foster Wallace: The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you, και που βρίσκει την τέλεια ενσάρκωσή της στην ιστορία που θα διαβάσετε.

Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,743 followers
February 6, 2011
At first glance, Willie Stark seems like he would have been the perfect Tea Party candidate. He uses fiery rhetoric to stir up crowds by claiming to be just like them and that he’s going to bust the heads of those evil ole politicians at the state house to force them the straighten up and do things the right way. But on the other hand, Willie actually knows something about government and uses his tactics to improve the lives of poor people by taxing the wealthy and using that money to do things like improve roads and provide free health care so maybe he wouldn’t fit in with Sarah Palin after all.

This classic novel tells the story of Willie Stark through the eyes of Jack Burden. Jack came from a privileged background but eventually turned his back on that life and became a cynical political newspaper reporter in an unnamed corrupt southern state. When Jack first meets Stark, he thinks of him as ’Cousin Willie from the country.’ because of his rube manner. Stark is a smart, hardworking and principled county commissioner, but he gets in over his head when he tries to award a government contract to the actual best bid and the corrupt politicians trash him for it.

Then Stark is tricked into running for governor by the state political machine to split the rural vote and make sure that the party favorite wins. Stark had been getting nowhere with his carefully planned speeches that patiently explained needed changes to the tax codes and other government business, but when he finds out he’s been played for a fool, Stark finds his voice as an angry hick who is tired of being abused by the politicians. Using his new populist tactics of playing up his upbringing as a poor farm boy who taught himself law at nights and promises to kick the collective ass of the political good-ole-boy network, Stark eventually does win the governorship, and Jack joins him as his political hatchet man.

Stark no longer cares about doing things the right way. He becomes a political force in the state through a combination of bullying, cajoling or bribing anyone who gets in his way. To Willie’s way of thinking, the state is full of sons-of-bitches that he either has to buy or break to get things done, and he is now fully convinced that the ends justify the means. He does actually follow through on his promises to try and help the common people of the state, but many consider him even more dangerous than the corrupt people he’s fighting.

Jack has no problems with the way that Willie runs thing until the governor gets angry at the incorruptible Judge Irwin for backing a rival in an election. When Willie can’t charm or bully the Judge into falling into line, he orders Jack to dig up some dirt on the man. However, Jack has known and admired the Judge since childhood so he has reservations about the assignment. Trying to find the Judge’s dirty laundry brings back Jack’s issues with his mother and father, and the girl he loved and lost, Anne Stanton. Things get even stickier when Willie decides that the only man to run his new pet project, a huge modern hospital, is Ann’s brother and Jack’s childhood friend, Adam.

I absolutely loved the way that Stark is portrayed in this book. It was inspired by Huey P. Long in Louisiana, a politician who accomplished a lot for the poor of his state but did so with highly questionable methods. Willie does indeed want to protect the common people from the ‘sons-of-bitches’ who have let the state wallow in poverty and neglect while lining their pockets, but this isn’t a simple case of power corrupting either. Willie always had a lot of ambitions for his political career, and he tried to play it straight at first because he thought that‘s how it was done. Once he saw the ugliness of reality behind the scenes, Willie seemingly adopts the same tactics without a second thought. Power didn’t change Willie, he changed to get and keep power, and he seems to relish his opportunities to take revenge on the types who screwed him over early in his career.

Warren’s prose is elegant and lyrical. He brings an entire region alive with a cast that includes everyone from the high society to the poorest farmers. His descriptions are so good that you can almost feel the humidity and hear the insects at times. However, he did tend to go on a bit long for my taste when relaying Jack’s personal history and insights. I would have liked more of Willie laying on the charm or ruthlessly taking down an opponent.

They say that watching government work is like watching sausage get made. Everyone wants the finished product, but no one wants to see how it‘s done. This story gives weight to this idea. It’s something that will make any reader think about whether one can get anything done in a democracy without deals being cut or threats being made. Even if the goal is accomplished, is the whole thing tainted because of how it came about? And how can a person with even the best of intentions work in a system like this without becoming corrupted?
Profile Image for Perry.
631 reviews502 followers
May 22, 2021
King of Pain

Storytelling and copulation are the two chief forms of amusement in the South. They're inexpensive and easy to procure.
Robert Penn Warren

Robert Penn Warren had been teaching at LSU for about a year prior to the 1935 assassination of U.S. Sen. Huey P. Long (La.), nicknamed "Kingfish," the populist and crooked 42-yr-old senator and former Louisiana governor, on whom his novel is loosely based. The title comes from Long's motto, "Every Man a King," and a "Humpty Dumpty" verse.

The story follows the political rise and fall of the fictional Willie Stark, who came from modest roots as a small town lawyer and made it into office as a populist before the Depression, to be elected twice as governor of a Southern state. Warren left references to location intentionally vague, even throwing in red herrings about coming in from the "beach" at a close-by vacation home (Louisiana has lakes, but no beaches; it's oceanfront: the wetlands leading into the Gulf of Mexico).

Jack Burden, the novel's narrator, was a former newspaper columnist and history student before becoming Governor Stark's right hand man. He is exceedingly dispassionate as a bystander and participant in the ongoing tragedy, and remains so despite watching the tragedy unfold and suffering two epic betrayals. Maybe Penn Warren was going for the shock or sense of bewilderment a reader may feel about the narrator seemingly not being affected by occurrences that would likely devastate any normal person.

This is not simply a political novel as I thought; I was surprised to learn that Warren said he didn't intend it to be one.

The book is much more about:
all actions having consequences, intended or not;

accepting responsibility for one's actions;

issues of identity, such as how a boy can be affected even as a man in his 30s upon learning the true identity of his father; and,

maybe most substantially, the variety and grades of betrayal and the impact of each on the betrayed and the betrayer.
As I think about it, I'm certain All the King's Men covers all 7 deadly sins, particularly the Big Five: Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy and Wrath.

A quote from the novel I found most poignant as I was reading it, but not quite as much so today:
“...the air so still it aches like ... your heart in the bosom when you stand on the street corner waiting for the light to change and happen to recollect how things once were and how they might have been yet if what happened had not happened.”
I must admit I tuned out a couple of times when the author/narrator trailed off into 2 to 3 page abstruse ramblings on the meaning of life in relation to space and time. I don't like lectures.

All in all, I enjoyed the book immensely for its political nature, its place and time and its exploration of these various themes.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 4 books571 followers
April 2, 2022
Kentucky-born 20th-century American writer and major academic literary critic Robert Penn Warren is still the only writer ever to have won the Pulitzer Prize for both fiction (for this 1946 novel) and poetry. Both a graduate of, and later a teacher at, Vanderbilt Univ. in Nashville, in the 1930s he was a part of the Southern Agrarians, a circle of Southern literary intellectuals centered around that university, and was one of the contributors, along with others in the group, to its 1930 manifesto of anti-capitalist conservatism, I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (which I've never read, but hope to eventually). Back in 1971, having learned about this group and having my interest piqued from reading The Conservative Tradition in America, I chose this novel for my book report in American Literature II as a college freshman. Although more than 50 years have elapsed since then, and I don't have a copy in front of me, I still recall it vividly enough to do it justice, in the sort of informal review that we ordinary readers share with each other here.

I've shelved this as "political fiction" (that is, fiction which is set in the world of politics). Set in 1930s Louisiana (he also taught for a time at Louisiana State Univ., so he was familiar with the life and culture of the state, including its politics), the book takes as its titular "King" a fictional governor of the state, Willie Stark. Aspects of Stark's personality and career are recognizably modeled on real-life Louisiana politician Huey "Kingfish" Long (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_Long ). However, Stark is not a carbon-copy clone of Long, and not the protagonist of the novel, though he's a major character. The actual protagonist, and maker of the central moral decisions here, is his young press agent, Jack Burden. But political programs and ideology as such aren't Warren's focus here. Rather, his major concerns are moral, philosophical, and even spiritual.

To the extent that there is a message about politics here, it's in keeping with those concerns. Willie Stark began his political career as an honest idealist who wanted to serve the interests of the people of his state. The seduction of power molded him into a corrupt demagogue who's only serving himself. Warren's not as interested in evaluating Stark's political program as in evaluating what his quest for power, and his rationalizations of all the shady machinations and mistreatments of other people that are part of that quest, is doing and has done to him as a person, and what it's doing to his henchmen -and to warn us that this sort of temptation is endemic in political life. But more broadly, he's also posing the questions of what matters most in life, whether right and wrong are real moral categories, and whether it's possible for a person to alter the direction of his/her life for the better. How Jack Burden will ultimately answer those questions is what the reader wants to find out. And while Warren wasn't necessarily a professing Christian, one of his characters here is a preacher who exercises some influence on Jack, and whose message is treated positively.

Racial relations aren't a focus here; they're touched on only peripherally. But Jack and some other characters at times use the n-word casually (which, sadly, did reflect realistic speech in that time and place), and there's also a passing narrative reference to black laborers as "darkies." This is obviously offensive to most readers, including me. Warren can be fairly criticized for this, and for the fact that the essay he contributed to the I'll Take My Stand collection was a defense of the noxious policies of racial segregation that prevailed in the Jim Crow South of that day. But my evaluation of the book overall recognizes positives that counterbalance the racial insensitivity. And to Warren's credit, he did rethink his attitude toward blacks, finally decisively repudiating segregation in a landmark Life magazine article in 1956, and went on to be a strong voice for racial integration and reconciliation. (In that respect, I would say that rather than rejecting his paleo-conservative beliefs, he became a more consistent exponent of their biblical roots.)
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,318 reviews4,840 followers
October 28, 2021

Meaning to do good, Willie Stark rises from self-educated lawyer to political bigwig and eventually governor. Along the way he loses his moral compass and develops a taste for power, resorting to bullying, bribery, blackmail - whatever it takes - to get what he wants.

Willie does manage to help some of his constituents, taxing the wealthy to provide schools and hospitals for the poor. But he also betrays his wife; raises a selfish, self-absorbed son; corrupts good people; and eventually reaps the consequences of his actions.

Willie's story is told by Jack Burden, a journalist who signs on to be Willie's right hand man. Thinking of himself as essentially a good guy Jack believes he's 'only doing his job' when he betrays some of his closest friends at Willie's behest.

I gave the book 4 stars (rather than 5) because the philosophical rantings of some characters was tedious and incomprehensible (to me). Overall, this is a superbly written book with fascinating characters and the trajectory of a Greek tragedy. Though published in the 1940s the book seems just as relevant today in it's depiction of political machinations. Highly recommended.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Judith E.
531 reviews188 followers
September 25, 2021
I almost gave up the ghost at 60% because it’s an exhausting read and requires a lot of work. But then I couldn’t completely abandon Warren’s crazy, creative, poetic writing of rambling passages so I set it aside while I read something easy. When I returned it was a don’t-talk-to-me-speeding-train-ride to the end.

In short, this is the transformative journey of politician Willie Stark and his assistant Jack Burden. Set in the 1930’s deep American South so it is disturbingly racist. The machinations of the American political system from grass roots to powerful elected positions is how Warren presents a complicated and tragic scenario and propels an argument of free will (The Great Twitch) vs accepting responsibility for one’s planned actions.

I would have missed so, so much if I hadn’t returned to this amazing work by Robert Penn Warren.
Profile Image for Ted.
515 reviews744 followers
April 2, 2018
The image I got in my head that day was the image of her face lying in the water, very smooth, with the eyes closed, under the dark greenish-purple sky, with the white gull passing over.

This is probably the first fairly good review I ever wrote on Goodreads (or anywhere, of course). Seems hardly anyone has ever seen it. Ran across it tonight in an old Word doc and thought I'd repost it. The book is a classic.

I first read it about 40 years ago. Having just finished my second reading (I think only two), I think the book is a better novel than I remembered it as, though I've always felt it was a "five-star" book.

Of the two stories in the book (the story of Willie Stark, based loosely or perhaps not so loosely on the life of Huey Long, and the story of the narrator Jack Burden, based presumably on the imagination but perhaps also on some of the artistic and philosophical beliefs of the author), the former is more entertaining, and is easier to understand. However, having just a few days ago watched the Ken Burns 1985 PBS documentary on Huey Long, I am struck now that Warren's Willie Stark has nowhere near the extremes of "good" and "evil" that Long was perceived to have by his supporters and enemies. Willie Stark is a very tame Huey Long, and the real Huey Long was more politically interesting than the fictional Willie Stark is. The question that arises from Huey Long's career is, Can a good man (woman) effect great (and good) changes, and still be true to his good nature? Or does the real world in which the changes need be made ineluctably force them to be made by resorting to force, the illegal (or extra-legal), and ultimately violence? These questions are not answered in All the King's Men, and I'm not sure that they are even posed. Willie Stark, it seems to me, is brought down not by an excessive desire to change the power structures of his state (though that plays a part), but much more by a confluence of unlikely and unlucky events.

The latter story I feel to be not quite as entertaining, but perhaps that's because it's a more difficult story to dig down through and unravel. I think it's also because much of this story, which one could think the author might have meant to illustrate some "truths" about life that the first story didn't touch on, requires that the reader ferret out what those truths are, whether he or she agrees that they are truths, and whether he or she finally judges that even if they are true, they are significant truths. Or perhaps it's best (and maybe more true to what Warren meant to do in the novel) to simply read Jack's story, and the conclusions he draws about life, as simply the tale of a fictional character and his search for personal truth, in which case we can judge this story by whether the character and his tale are both interesting and believable. On these criteria I would give the Jack Burden story an "A". (Even though, by the way, I wouldn't argue that Jack is a very likeable character. He has an awful lot of faults actually, but these are believable human faults.)

On a personal note, I found it interesting how much of the book I didn't remember from the first time. Essentially, other than the broad sweep of the story, I remembered very little. In particular, I remembered little of the last chapter, I remembered nothing of chapter 7 (Jack Burden's flight to California, and the story of his falling in love with Anne), and I had no recollection that I had ever felt the writing in chapter 4 to be so evocative (I think now) of Faulkner. Of course when this book was published in 1946, Robert Penn Warren surely had read most, if not all, of Faulkner's fiction, being as he (Warren) was among a group of Southern writers and poets who had been making waves for several years by then.

I’ll end with a quote from chapter 3. This quote to me is extremely poignant, and expresses a psychological truth which I feel very strongly; it also reminded me of Proust. It comes in a section where Jack is reminiscing about growing up in Burden’s Landing with Adam and Anne Stanton. The three of them swam in the Bay together often, and one time they were swimming in very calm waters under a darkening sky.
What happened was this: I got an image in my head that never got out. We see a great many things and can remember a great many things, but that is different. We get very few of the true images in our heads of the kind I am talking about, the kind which become more and more vivid for us as if the passage of the years did not obscure their reality but, year by year, drew off another veil to expose a meaning which we had only dimly surmised at first. Very probably the last veil will not be removed, for there are not enough years, but the brightness of the image increases and our conviction increases that the brightness is meaning, or the legend of meaning, and without the image our lives would be nothing except an old piece of film rolled on a spool and thrown into a desk drawer among the unanswered letters.
The image I got in my head that day was the image of her face lying in the water, very smooth, with the eyes closed, under the dark greenish-purple sky, with the white gull passing over.

(Unbelievably, before I typed in this quote, I wanted to check the prefatory sentences I’d written, particularly whether the name of the town was Burden’s Landing. So I Googled “Burden’s Landing”, and the third site was burdenslanding.org, which contains this very quote, except for the last sentence. So I didn’t have to type the whole blamed thing, just cut and pasted most of it. Obviously others have been struck by it.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Profile Image for Brian.
306 reviews48 followers
January 8, 2021
I remember that when I first read All the King’s Men as a senior in college (too many years ago), I thought it was a very good political story, but I don’t think I had a full appreciation of how good or complex the book is. Now, having re-read it at a much later point in my life, I think it’s one of the best novels I’ve ever read.

It is, first of all, beautifully written, with language that often approaches poetry—not surprising given that Robert Penn Warren won major literary awards for poetry as well as fiction, and shortly before the publication of this book was the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1944–1945). Second, the story told in the novel, which is centered around two very different characters, Jack Burden and Willie Stark, whose lives intertwine, is compelling and complex, with a non-linear timeline that at first seems confusing but ultimately works to enhance the reader’s understanding of the connections between the characters and events. Third, through the narrator, Jack Burden, Warren explores many existential questions about truth, history, responsibility, guilt, good and evil, and more.

The novel is often characterized as a fictional political biography of the Huey Long-inspired character Willie Stark. But while Stark’s political career is one focus of the book, I think Jack Burden is the main character. As the narrator, I guess he has the inside edge on capturing the reader’s attention. But I found his journey in the course of the book to be fascinating, even though in many respects he is not all that likable.

As a young man, Jack has no purpose and no direction; he is drifting through life with no real idea of what he wants to do. All he really knows is that he wants to distance himself from his past—from the father who abandoned him when he was six years old, from the mother who he thinks never really loved him, and from the genteel surroundings of the community in Burden’s Landing (named for his family) in which he grew up. In college, Jack is drawn to idealist philosophy: “If you are an Idealist it does not matter what you do or what goes on around you because it isn’t real anyway.” This philosophy is, of course, convenient for a young man without direction.

After attending and hating law school, Jack studies history in graduate school but leaves before completing his dissertation. He then becomes a newspaper reporter and soon meets nascent backwoods politician Willie Stark. Jack admires Willie as a man of action, energy, and drive, and ultimately becomes his right-hand man and sometime fixer. Jack’s idealist philosophy serves him well in this role, but he feels conflicted by certain tasks that Willie asks him to perform, especially when he is asked to dig up dirt that has the potential to injure people he cares about.

But as a trained historian and a journalist, Jack is also drawn to knowledge and truth. So even though one part of him doesn’t want to dig up the dirt and he suspects he won’t like it if he’s successful, he can’t resist. “I knew that I had to know the truth. For the truth is a terrible thing. You dabble your foot in it and it is nothing. But you walk a little farther and you feel it pull you like an undertow or a whirlpool. First there is the slow pull so steady and gradual you scarcely notice it, then the acceleration, then the dizzy whirl and plunge to blackness. For there is a blackness of truth, too.”

Ultimately, learning the truth unlocks some secrets of Jack’s past and allows him to come to terms with the things he had been running away from. Jack is able to change his perspective about several important people in his past and begin to build a future. Other characters are not so fortunate. Willie Stark becomes a victim of his ambition, and Jack’s boyhood friend Adam Stanton, who also learns the truth, can’t handle it. As Jack tells Adam’s sister (and Jack’s future wife), Anne, Adam “‘is a romantic, and he has a picture of the world in his head, and when the world doesn’t conform in any respect to the picture, he wants to throw the world away. Even if that means throwing out the baby with the bath. Which,’ I added, ‘it always does mean.’”

Early in the book, in a fine bit of foreshadowing, Warren has Jack ruminate about the relationship between knowledge and death: “The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can’t know. He can’t know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can’t know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn’t got and which if he had it, would save him.” That’s a question that, according to Judeo-Christian tradition, had its origins in the Garden of Eden. And it’s one of the big questions that Jack has to wrestle with as he considers what the consequences of his actions will be for himself and for those around him, and how much personal responsibility he will bear for those consequences.

All the King’s Men is a book that warrants multiple readings. I have only scratched the surface of it here. For one thing, I haven’t done justice at all to the Willie Stark character. But suffice it to say, this book easily gets a five-star rating from me, and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Tasos.
263 reviews39 followers
March 23, 2021
«Ο άνθρωπος συλλαμβάνεται μέσα στην αμαρτία, γεννιέται μέσα στη διαφθορά και περνάει από την μπόχα της πάνας στην αποφορά του σαβάνου»

Με όλους τους διθυράμβους που συνοδεύουν το βιβλίο από τη στιγμή της έκδοσής του (επιτέλους) στα ελληνικά ξεκίνησα το "Όλοι οι άνθρωποι του βασιλιά" με ήδη μεγάλες προσδοκίες. Το αποτέλεσμα δεν ήταν τίποτα λιγότερο από ένα καθαρό αριστούργημα.

Όχι μόνο γιατί ο Γουόρεν, ορμώμενος από την αληθινή ιστορία της δολοφονίας του κυβερνήτη της Λουιζιάνα Χιούι Λονγκ, μιλά για το λαϊκισμό και τη διαφθορά που μοιάζουν να είναι εγγενές συστατικό του αμερικάνικου (και κάθε) πολιτικού συστήματος και μπορούν ανά πάσα στιγμή να μετατρέψουν τον αγνό ιδεαλισμό σε στυγνή δημαγωγία, και μάλιστα με ένα διαχρονικό τρόπο που αποδείχθηκε δεκαετίες αργότερα και πάλι επίκαιρος, αλλά κυρίως γιατί ο συγγραφέας σκιαγραφεί το πορτρέτο του bigger than life Γουίλι Σταρκ, την άνοδο και την πτώση, την ύβρι και την τιμωρία, με την άτεγκτη νομοτέλεια μιας αρχαίας τραγωδίας.

Απέναντι σ' αυτή την τόσο αντιφατική μορφή τοποθετεί τον Τζακ Μπέρντεν, γόνο αριστοκρατικής οικογένειας, ο οποίος, κάτω από μια επίφαση κυνικής ψυχραιμίας και διανοητικής υπεροψίας, αλλά και με μια μεγαλοαστική ennui, θα γίνει το δεξί χέρι του κυβερνήτη, ενώ κατατρύχεται από τους δικούς του δαίμονες και τις δικές του ηθικές και θρησκευτικές αναζητήσεις.

Ο αριστοτεχνικός ιστός που θα υφάνει ο Γουόρεν ανάμεσα στους δύο αυτούς άνδρες και, μέσα από μια μαεστρικά πολυπρόσωπη αφήγηση με συνεχή πισωγυρίσματα στο χρόνο, σε μια πλειάδα από πρόσωπα, το καθένα με τα δικά του αδιέξοδα και τα δικά του λάθη, καταδεικνύει το βαρύ τίμημα του Αμερικανικού Ονείρου για όλους, την ηθική αδιαφορία της Ιστορίας και τη ματαιότητα της ύπαρξης, που δεν είναι παρά ακόμα μια εκδήλωση της "ατέλειας στην τελειότ��τα της ανυπαρξίας που είναι ο Θεός".

Είπα πως είναι αριστούργημα; Ας το ξαναπώ.
Profile Image for Nickolas the Kid.
301 reviews70 followers
January 12, 2022
Ένα κορυφαίο μυθιστόρημα το οποίο φέρει πολλές ομοιότητες με το αριστούργημα του Όρσον Ουέλς, "Ο Πολίτης Κέιν".
Η λογοτεχνία στα καλύτερά της.
Profile Image for Lori  Keeton.
453 reviews92 followers
October 2, 2022
Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption.

When I first started this read, I wasn’t sure I was going to mesh with Warren’s prose style as his sentences are lengthy and simile-filled. It took me a good 1/3 of the book to really get a grasp of it and come to appreciate his poetic and lavish descriptions. But once that occurred for me, it was a matter of finding the time to get to the story without the distractions of life getting in the way this month. I was enamored with the story of Willie Stark and Jack Burden, the politician and his assistant. What I assumed was to be the story of the politician’s rise and fall became the self-searching and coming to grips with the past of the assistant. Warren took each man’s stories and interconnected them with intricacies and minute details that left this reader in amazement. So much so that I’ve already placed this book on my “must reread” someday list. In no way do I feel that I can really write a review that could explain it’s merit.

Willie Stark, the “Boss”, championed the common man and considered himself a man of the people. He was an excellent orator and spoke directly to the people in a language they understood. His story is one of poverty to success in politics and one in which his methods of getting things done suddenly turned to manipulation as he learned the tricks of the trade which lead to power- scheming, betraying, seducing, out-dealing, blackmailing. It became instinctual.

In contrast, Jack Burden’s powerful story unfolds as he attempts to find himself in the midst of his complex background from a well-connected family that masks much of its dysfunction. The former history student and newspaper columnist does the digging and dirty work for Stark but finds himself confronted with the knowledge of a secret from the past that hits very close to home for him. He struggles with the deceitfulness of his position and tries to come to grips with the realities of past events and present tragedies.

This has been the story of Willie Stark. But it is my story too.

This is more than a story of politics but it certainly brings to light what can happen to those close to one who’s appetite for ambition and power overtake his idea of right and good. It is also a story of personal responsibility and coming to terms with the past. Through Burden’s narration we witness the transformations and evolutions of these two men as well as several other characters who play important roles in the story. Burden’s childhood friends, Anne and Adam Stanton are brilliantly interconnected with Stark and Burden. The storytelling is intense and the chapters are extra-long and non-chronological. The timeline changes don’t jar the storyline but demonstrate just how deftly Warren is at his craft of weaving the stories and lives together.

If you could not accept the past and its burden there was no future.

A Pulitzer Prize winner for 1947, Warren’s novel stands the test of time and reads like a modern story. The timelessness of the topics are such that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Corruption, ambition, power - we just can’t seem to get away from these themes today.
Profile Image for Camie.
892 reviews187 followers
April 23, 2017
First off, I would nominate this book as one highly in need of a much improved cover design. That being said, it perfectly fits the old adage about judging a book by it's ( mundane) cover. I love it when a book surprises me and the dread of reading it ( club choice) turns into excitement. The back-page blurb praises it as a Pulitzer Prize winner following the political career of Willie Stark, a fictional character loosely based on that of Huey "Kingfish" Long a post Depression Era Louisiana governor. Stark who starts out as a refreshingly idealistic man " of the people" ultimately ends up caught in a web of the corruption often associated with power. So yes, it's a precautionary tale, but perhaps even more about the life of Jack Burden, a sort of " every man" who works for Stark in a "holding it all together " capacity and learns a lot of life lessons the hard way. Though cited on the cover as THE definitive novel about American Politics ( NYTimes) I was happy to find it is written in a descriptive "old classic" format which makes it truly an enjoyable read. If you read it remember it was published in 1946, as it is very filled with characters who have stereotypical notions of the time ( meaning racist and very sexist) including our narrator who though interesting enough, is not always easy to like. Anyway to my total surprise , I'm giving this book a five star rating and thanking whomever it was who chose this as an April Selection for On The Southern Literary Trail. Great choice !!
Timely note: The 2006(audience rated 4 star) movie with Sean Penn, Jude Law, and Kate Winslet will be on Starz 4/25 and 4/26. I watched it on Amazon and quite enjoyed it since I liked the book. There is an earlier movie that is supposed to be very good ( thanks Diane B.) but that I cannot readily find.
Profile Image for Lewis Weinstein.
Author 9 books492 followers
May 5, 2012
ATKM’s "dead on" characterizations of political behavior are as relevant today as they were when it won a Pulitzer in 1947. Often described as the story of Willie Stark, a thinly disguised fictional stand-in for fabled Louisiana Governor Huey Long, it is really much more that of Jack Burden, Stark’s aide and friend, from whose first person POV the story is told.

Alternately attracted and repulsed by the tangy smells of commitment and corruption, Jack engages our sympathy and intellect as he personalizes the complex, unintended, and sometimes tragic consequences of his leader’s political decisions. How frustratingly difficult it is to achieve even admirable goals in the real world of a voter-driven governmental system. Sound familiar?

Complementing the intriguing story line is Warren’s magnificent writing which reflects the skills and emotions of the poet he indeed was.

An example ... “You meet someone at the seashore on a vacation and have a wonderful time together ... you talk with a stranger whose mind seems to whet and sharpen your own ... afterward you are sure that when you meet again, the gay companion will give you the old gaiety, the brilliant stranger will stir your mind from its torpor, the sympathetic friend will solace you with the old communion of spirit. But something happens, or almost always happens, to the gaiety, the brilliance, the communion. You remember the individual words from the old language you spoke together, but you have forgotten the grammar. You remember the steps of the dance, but the music isn’t playing anymore. So there you are.”

In this political season of 2012, ATKM provides an extended opportunity for reasoned reflection on what is and is not possible, in government and in our own lives.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,821 reviews499 followers
March 20, 2021
This Pulitzer Prize winner was not a disappointment. It is a beautifully written master class in plot, description and character development. Set in the late 1930s, this is the story of the rise and fall of the southern politician Willy Stark as told by Jack Burden, the former reporter who now works for Stark. Both Stark and Burden are rich, complex characters and the arcs of their lives are as compelling as Greek tragedy. It’s really a wonderful book .
Profile Image for Kellie.
1,024 reviews69 followers
September 16, 2009
I go through a lot of anxiety when I decide to quit a book in the middle of it. I really did give this one a chance. I really like the leader of my book club, who chose this book, however, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I never read such a bunch of babble before in my life. If all the babble was pulled out of this book, it would probably be 100 pages. As opposed to it’s 437. This quote is an example… “If there weren’t any other people there wouldn’t be any you because what you do, which is what you are, only has meaning in relation to other people. That is a very comforting thought when you are in the car in the rain at night alone, for then you aren’t you, and not being you or anything, you can really lie back and get some rest.” Huh? Half the time I couldn’t tell where I was in this book. Is he talking about the present? The past? The future? Did this happen already? No idea. I just wish he would tell the story. The story of a mafia type politician. The Governor of a Southern state in the 1930’s. The narrator was something like the press secretary of “the boss”. But the author takes the reader off on so many tangents, I couldn’t keep anything straight, let alone have a clue about the actual plot. I was always asking the question, what does this have to do with the storyline? Will I find out later? The answer to that question is no because I’m closing the book on page 157.
Profile Image for Stefania.
174 reviews31 followers
January 10, 2021
Ο άνθρωπος συλλαμβάνεται μέσα στην αμαρτία, γεννιέται μέσα στη διαφθορά και περνάει από τη μπόχα της πάνας στην αποφορά του σάβανου. Πάντα κάτι υπάρχει....
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