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All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

All the King's Men (1946)

by Robert Penn Warren

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Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
I enjoyed listening to this. Beautiful use of words. Almost poetic language. And the southern accent doesn't hurt. ( )
  nx74defiant | Apr 30, 2017 |
Great book about the intersection of personal and public history. ( )
  little-gidding | Apr 13, 2017 |
This was our book club pick for April. Meh. I made it to page 100. Not my cup of tea. There was no way I was going to read over 600 pages of this. I'm not a fan of politics and this was way too boring for me to get into it for the long run. Definitely the verbiage is a little hard to understand and sometimes I had to read it out loud for it to make sense to me. I think I'll watch the movie before our meeting so I can discuss the meat and potatoes of the subject with my club.
  booklover3258 | Mar 31, 2017 |
This is a political novel of the 1930's American South, told by narrator Jack Burden, about the life, times, and doings of Governor Willie Stark for whom Burden worked. There are several twists and turns that I did not expect. I also expected it to be drier and harder to read. I was pleasantly surprised to be so intrigued by the story that moved right along. And even though it is political, much of it is to do with Burden's life, family, and philosophic discoveries about life.
This book was a 1947 Pulitzer Prize winner and, as a film, it won the 1949 Academy Award for Best Picture. I enjoyed it a lot and highly recommend it! ( )
2 vote TerriS | Mar 9, 2017 |
"Red" Warren was a friend of my doctoral advisor Leonard Unger, I think from the Vanderbilt connection before they were U Minnesota colleagues in the 50's, along with Saul Bellow and Allen Tate. Of course, Warren was known for the most famous poetry introduction ever written, Brooks and Warren, and Leonard's reading of poems built on it with an added soupçon of Catskill wit. After B&W came Brower's fine Fields of Light, which lay behind my Amherst College lit intro. The Amherst approach contrasted to Warren's finding a poem's "meaning," by emphasizing "an active tentativeness" in the classroom with mutual engagement of lit, the phrase from my mentor Bill Pritchard. (My Amherst Shakespeare prof Baird said, "Here all I've been told is how wrong we were [Brower and Barber and Baird and Craig}, but when Brower went to Harvard, and invented Hum 6, he became much-awarded.") But I digress.
King's Men is a fine novel, probably very relevant in this Year of the Cock [Chinese, but also our political leader]. Perhaps if I reread it, I'd add the last star. I withold it because as a political novel, it may not equal, say, Oliver Twist or even FM Ford's The Good Soldier or A Man Could Stand Up, or Mailer's Catch-22 or Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five or Proulx's Shipping News (though set among Newfies, really about the US) or even the other great Newfoundland novel, Johnston's the Colony of Unrequited Love. Since my specialty has been drama, I have never taught these novels in the same course, so perhaps I err.
I cannot now find King's Men on my shelf, though I know what the jacket looks like, and where it was for decades, Modern Library, 1953, seven years after its first appearance. The frank, offensive racist language, a discouraging reminder to read, may be preferable to the veiled racism we now see behind the victory of the Clown Prince, who may be our first prez with certifiable mental illness, evidently "Malignant Narcisissism" analyzed by Dr. Otto Kernberg (Cornell Med) in 1984. (Seems to me Kim Jung Un may also suffer from it. A dangerous twain to meet.)
Red Warren's first few pages are a tour de force of the American motoring and working experience, and the sawmill's wasting of the pine forest until all the work is gone, and the long cycle, the forty year softwood tree cycle, the economic cyle now interrupted by robots. But Willie Stark will make America great... As Red Warren wrote of the Boss in his first version of Ch 1, "The real son-of-a-bitch is the rarest work of God." That's what the US apparently voted for in Nov 2016, but now they're finding what makes a Sobakievich (the Russian for that rarest work) makes a miserable and cruel leader. ( )
2 vote AlanWPowers | Feb 20, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men" is magnificently vital reading, a book so charged with dramatic tension it almost crackles with blue sparks, a book so drenched with fierce emotion, narrative pace and poetic imagery that its stature as a "readin' book," as some of its characters would call it, dwarfs that of most current publications. Here, my lords and ladies, is no book to curl up with in a hammock, but a book to read until 3 o'clock in the morning, a book to read on trains and subways, while waiting for street cars and appointments, while riding elevators or elephants.

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Warren, Robert Pennprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Koskinen, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mentre che la speranza ha fior del verde.

--La Divina Commedia, Purgatorio, III
To Justine and David Mitchell Clay
First words

To get there you follow Highway 58, going northeast out of the city, and it is a good highway and new. Or was new, that day we went up it.
It was like the second when you come home late at night and see the yellow envelope of the telegram sticking out from under your door and you lean and pick it up, but don't open it yet, not for a second. While you stand there in the hall, with the envelope in your hand, you feel like there's an eye on you, a great big eye looking straight at you from miles and dark and through walls and houses and through your coat and vest and hide and sees you huddled up way inside, in the dark which is you, inside yourself, like a clammy, sad little foetus you carry around inside yourself. The eye knows what's in the envelope, and it is watching you to see you when you open it and know it, too. But the clammy, sad little foetus which is you way down in the dark which is you too lifts up its sad little face and its eyes are blind, and it shivers cold inside you for it doesn't want to know what is in that envelope. It wants to lie in the dark and not know, and be warm in its not-knowing. 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 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.
It was not so much any one example, any one event, which I recollected which was important, but the flow, the texture of the events, for meaning is never in the event but in the motion through event.  Otherwise we could isolate an instant in the event and say that this is the event itself.  The meaning.  But we cannot do that.  For it is the motion which is important.
So there are two you's, the one you yourself create by loving and the one the beloved creates by loving you.  The farther those 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.
The creation of man whom God in His foreknowledge knew doomed to sin was the awful index of God's omnipotence.  For it would have been a thing of trifling and contemptible ease for Perfection to create mere perfection.  To do so would, to speak truth, be not creation but extension.  Separateness is identity and the only way for God to create, truly create, man was to make him separate from God Himself,and to be separate from God is to be sinful.  The creation of evil is therefore the index of God's glory and His power.
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Haiku summary
The rise and fall of

a demagogue, based somewhat

on a real statesman.


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156004801, Paperback)

This landmark book is a loosely fictionalized account of Governor Huey Long of Louisiana, one of the nation's most astounding politicians. All the King's Men tells the story of Willie Stark, a southern-fried politician who builds support by appealing to the common man and playing dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. Though Stark quickly sheds his idealism, his right-hand man, Jack Burden -- who narrates the story -- retains it and proves to be a thorn in the new governor's side. Stark becomes a successful leader, but at a very high price, one that eventually costs him his life. The award-winning book is a play of politics, society and personal affairs, all wrapped in the cloak of history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:02 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

Set in the '30s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie Stark, a fictional character who resembles the real-life Huey "Kingfish" Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success and caught between dreams of service and an insatiable lust for power. The model for 1996's best-selling novel, Primary Colors, and as relevant today as it was fifty years ago, All the King's Men is one of the classics of American literature.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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