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Paperback All the King's Men Book

ISBN: 0156031043

ISBN13: 9780156031042

All the King's Men

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Book Overview

Set in the 1930s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel traces the rise and fall of Willie Stark, 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. Generally considered the finest novel ever written on American politics, All the King's Men is a literary classic. SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING SEAN PENN JUDE LAW KATE WINSLET...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Well Deserving of the Pulitzer

Let's get this out of the way: having just finished this book, I feel confident in ascribing "All the King's Men" the status of one of my all-time favorite books. My words cannot begin to describe just how good it is, but I shall try... This book is primarily sold as a political novel. I think this is somewhat of an inaccurate pitch, because while Willie Stark is certainly a politician,and the book's real main character, Jack Burden, is one of stark's pundits, to limit ATKM to the political realm does it a disservice. This book is truly about so much more than politics. Sure, one of the main themes of this book is how politics are present in nearly every aspect of our lives, but this book is also about ideas, the ties that bind, the search for self, the human condition at its best and at its worst, the driving force of passion, and the intricacies of morality. It has romance, mystery, scandal, suicide, murder, and some fairly awesome speeches. Sound dense? It is. At nearly 700 pages, ATKM is a true epic, but not one word of it is superfluous. Warren deftly spins multiple storylines into an intricately tangled web. His prose is deceptively simple, the strong Southern voice of the narrator belying some of the stark truths. He selects and arranges his words so that you feel the full force of their meaning as it resonates within you. After reading this book, you will understand with fierce clarity how this book won the Pulitzer prize This book is a testament to what fiction should strive to be, for there is more truth in these lines than fantasy. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who wants the ultimate reading experience, and I daresay that this is one of those books that only improves upon re-reading. This book rocked my world, and I can only hope it does the same for you as well.

An Absolutely Wonderful Book!

It is extremely hard to sit down and write a review for any piece of classic literature for there is very little a reviewer can say that is new. Of course, for a book to be considered a classic most of its reviewers have to have had a favorable opinion of the work and all a new reviewer can do is concur or disagree. In this case, I couldn't possibly agree more with previous reviewers who have written rave reviews of this book. This is not so much the story of Willie Stark, who was Willie Talos in the original manuscript, as it the story of Jack Burden, the man telling the story. It really seems to be the story of a young man and his road to maturity. That young man is Jack Burden and Stark seems to be just a convenient focal point around which Warren weaves his story. The plot is very well laid out and flows very well from beginning to end, which is quite an accomplishment when one considers all of the subplots to be found in this book. As Burden tells his story he often wanders down memory lane, recalling events which his story has recalled. Each subplot builds to it's own climax while also building toward the climax of the main story and the reader is swept along like a barrel on the Niagara River. Just as the reader feels as if he can put the book aside for a while, another subplot begins to ascend through the story and the reader is again swept along unable to pause. I got so caught up in one of the subplots that I was late for a very important appointment. I just couldn't stop until I found out what happened. Stark is obviously supposed to resemble Louisiana Governor Huey Long and he very much does so. If one also reads T. Harry Williams biography of Long they will see just how strong the resemblance is. There are several morals and messages to be drawn from this story including thoughts on good and evil and past and future. In addition to the messages though, one has to admire the incredible amount of research Warren had to have done to write this book. Warren of course was alive and well during Huey Long's reign and that had to help him but in all events described his historical accuracy is uncanny. For example, one of the subplots involves Jefferson Davis in a minor way and even in delving in things well beyond his own memories Warren laces the story with many accurate details. In one passage, Warren relates that Davis missed the steamboat that was to carry him on the first leg of his trip to Montgomery to assume the Presidency of the new Confederacy. Warren points out that the boat left Davis Landing and then was halted out in the river while a smaller boat brought the new President out to get on board. A historical fact that would not be common knowledge but that is entirely accurate. Many people avoid books that are considered to be top-flight works of literature. These people often assume that such books must be dull and so philosophical that they are beyond the average reader. In some instances this may be the case but not with t

A great work of fiction

Like a few other reviewers here, All the King's Men is my favority work of fiction ever. I first read it two years ago, and re-read it last month. I can't say whether I liked Robert Penn Warren's style or themes more - they both appealed to me. More on that in a second, however. I just want to say that, even after I finished it the second time, I kept on returning to the novel just to read select pages. This book alone accounts for three or four of my ten favorite passages.Now, everyone seems to enjoy the style of the book. It's hard not to. But the themes of All the King's Men are equally poignant. Jack Burden, the main character, deals with lost love, disgust at the life he's led and still leading, and disillusionment with modern society. Willie Stark, the demagogic governor, presents themes regarding the nature of power - is it possible to attain power and still remain moral? Can morality survive as a means, or can man only try to, as Stark says, "make the good from the bad?" Is it necessary to pander to corruption to achieve good? Penn Warren not only presents all these questions, but knows how to argue them as well. This is rare for an author - many only fancy themselves stylists, not philosophers. Penn Warren is both.I could write for days on the style of All the King's Men. Suffice it to say it's wonderful. A touch of nostalgia, a whiff of fatalism, a little cynicism here and there...since the novel is written in the first person, the writing provides the best way to get to know the narrator, Jack Burden. Because of the strength of the writing of All the King's Men, Jack Burden may be one of the most detailed and complex characters in all of american literature.I can not state this any more clearly; All the King's Men is my favorite work of fiction ever. If you haven't read it, please, please do.

The best book I ever read. Don't miss it!

Born in Kentucky, Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) had a long and prestigious literary career, his huge body of work including poetry, essays, textbooks, history and novels. "All the King's Men", written in 1946, won a Pulitzer Prize and I can well understand why. First of all there are the words, lots of them, words that flow and caress and make liberal use of just the right tiny details to get to the essence the people he dscribes. Never have I seen such artful characterization and I found I was re-reading some of these descriptions just for the pure beauty of the way he used his words. And yet those words never got in the way of the story; they enhanced it. It is also a piece of history as the author brings alive the South of 1920s and 1930s.The story is about Willie Stark, man of humble origin who rose to power as a governor of an unnamed Southern state and is supposedly loosely based on the life of Huey Long, the Governor of Louisiana. But the main character is really Jack Burden, the narrator of the story. He's a reporter when he meets Willie Stark early in his career and is there as witness his political rise. Later, he works directly for Willie and becomes a key player in the blackmailing and political intrigue that surrounds the Governor. We come to know Jack through the people in his life as well as his own internal introspections and watch the swirl of events that grow in depth and complexity. Nothing is quite what it seems at first, and there are multiple sub-stories that unfold as the basic action of the book moves along. And then, just when I think I understand it all, there is yet another and another layer of depth and meaning. Everything has an effect on everything else. I found the book impossible to put down, thinking about it all the time, not only as it related to the story itself, but also how it applies to my own life.This is perhaps the best book I ever read and I can't heap enough praise on it. It is clearly a masterpiece and I give it my very highest recommendation. It's a present to yourself to read it. Don't miss it!

The best work of modern American fiction

Calling anything "the best" is a dicey proposition, but in my opinion, this magnificent novel deserves the billing. I've read it more than a few times, and it has never failed to deliver an emotional punch, and Warren's poetic prose has never failed to lose its luster.On one level, of course, "All the King's Men" is a fictionalized account of the life of Huey Long, the machine politician who rose to state and national prominence as the iron-fisted governor of Louisiana, a man strong enough to seriously offer FDR a challenge in the '30s before his (Long's) assassination. As a hard-nosed political novel, "All the King's Men" delivers the goods. Warren's Willie Stark develops absolutely believably from a laughably naive idealist to a ruthless politician who has convinced himself that the political ends justify the brutal means.But beyond this, Warren's novel is a profound meditation on the limits of power and the nature of our understanding of the world. Its narrator, Jack Burden, is one of the most complex creations in American fiction, a man at once supremely self-assured and wracked by the most essential of doubts about himself. On the one hand, Jack, who becomes Willie's number-one assistant, is as hard edged a realist as his boss. On the other, he is a wounded romantic, lamenting a long-lost love and the disappearance of a world that offered the simple pleasures of boyhood and none of the ambiguities a complex world in which nothing -- politically, socially, or romantically -- is as it seems.Finally, the novel is a voyage of self-discovery for Jack, and in this, "All the King's Men" continues the great tradition in Western literature we trace back to Oedipus. The novel explores the fundamental theme of self-identity, as Sophocles did, and it succeeds brilliantly in creating a complex, multi-layered story that achieves its thematic goal.There is really no describing the richness of the experience you will find if you read this novel, but be forewarned that it is a novel that demands much. If you are willing to submit to the experience, Warren's great work will reward you many times over.
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