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All the King's Men (1946)

by Robert Penn Warren

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,0661071,164 (4.11)344
The fictionalized account of Louisiana's colorful--and notorious--governor Huey Pierce Long, All the King's Men follows the startling rise and fall of Willie Stark, a country lawyer in the Deep South of the 1930s. Beset by political enemies, Stark seeks aid from his right-hand man Jack Burden, who will bear witness to the cataclysmic unfolding of this very American tragedy.… (more)

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» See also 344 mentions

English (106)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (107)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
Truly a masterpiece... Plot, characters, . language. A book truly worthy of the Pulitzer . Still relevant in the21st century. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
Set in the south somewhere, the story of politics and the corruption of the 1930's. Jack
Burden is the assistant to Willie Stark, the Governor, and aids in many different ways. Other characters include Anne and Adam Stanton, Jack's childhood friends, Judge Irwin, Jack's mother, and Willie's family. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
4.5* for this audiobook edition, 4* for the book itself

In many regards, this novel was much better than the 1949 movie (which was excellent!). Warren's prose is amazingly evocative and the characters were more complex than in the film. However, I did find Jack Burden's periodic excursions into philosophy & religion a bit tedious, perhaps due to the fact that I didn't comprehend his ideas (or maybe I did and just didn't like them...).

Unlike the film, the book is really more about Jack than Willie Stark. Stark is the flash point of the story and the not-so subtle resemblance to real life politician Huey Long makes Stark's character all the more fascinating. Despite that, it is the mysteries and complications of Jack's character and his relationships that are the heart of the book.

One final comment - Warren has included one of the best descriptions of undiagnosed clinical depression that I have ever read with Jack's "Great Sleep". ( )
  leslie.98 | Aug 17, 2019 |
Great book, great movie with (was it Broderick Crawford).
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
I detested this book. I think my expectations going in were off. I expected more politics and fewer flashbacks to the narrator's history research (which apparently were omitted from the British edition). But worse than that was the infuriating writing style. It is so repetitive (and digressionary)—and repetitive! Occasionally Warren catches something and for a moment there's a lyrical voice. But most of the attempts fall flat. And they fall flat.

"And all at once, you think that you are the one who is running away, and you had better run fast to wherever you are going because it will be dark soon. The train is going pretty fast now, but its effort seems to be through a stubborn cloying density of air as though an eel tried to swim in syrup, or the effort seems to be against an increasing and implacable magnetism of earth. You think that if the earth should twitch once, as the hide of a sleeping dog twitches, the train would be jerked over and piled up and the engine would spew and gasp while somewhere a canted-up wheel would revolve once with a massive and dreamlike deliberation. … You catch the sober, metallic, pure, late-light, unriffled glint of the water between the little banks, under the sky, and see the cow standing in the water upstream near the single leaning willow. And all at once you feel like crying. But the train is going fast, and almost immediately whatever you feel is taken away from you, too." ( )
  breic | Apr 26, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (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.


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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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