Read All the King's Men: Restored Edition by Robert Penn Warren Noel Polk Online

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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this classic book is generally regarded as the finest novel ever written on american politics. It describes the career of Willie Stark, a back-country lawyer whose idealism is overcome by his lust for power. New Foreword by Joseph Blotner for this fiftieth anniversary edition....

Title : All the King's Men: Restored Edition
Author :
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ISBN : 9780156012959
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 656 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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All the King's Men: Restored Edition Reviews

  • Matt
    2018-11-04 11:58

    This book grabbed me by the collar and pulled me in when I picked it up at the bookstore and I couldn't breathe until I finished it.This is exactly what American politics, in the essential or fundamental sense, are about. Innocense gets you into the game, experience gets you further, ruthlessness gets you ahead.Its narrated with zest and sarcasm and this particular version is great because it throws in all of Warren's original extras- references, allusions, extra plot points, details, etc. More of a good thing is always good.Too bad Warren apparently never pulled anything like this off again. This is one of the centerpieces of American social culture. There's more than a little "Huey Long" in all our politics. Laugh about it, shout about it, when you've got to choose....The first movie, with Broderick Crawford, is pretty good. Avoid the remake of the movie with the great Sean Penn at all costs.

  • Seth
    2018-11-06 14:17

    My main message to would-be readers is to think carefully about which version of All the King’s Men to read. I chose the “restored” version, thinking that it was more authentic. The other choice would have been the final edition approved by the author after editorial review. That is the one familiar to generations of readers. Since I read one version and not the other, it’s hard for me to compare and contrast them. However, I call your attention to the fact that in an exchange carried out in the New York Review of Books in 2002, Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates got into a dustup with the creator of the restored version, University of Southern Mississippi professor Noel Polk, who painstakingly restored the original text from Robert Penn Warren’s notes at Yale’s Beinecke Library. Oates believed that the “restored text” represented a betrayal of the author, who had signed off on the final edition in 1946. Among other things, she bemoaned the fact that Polk changed the name of the main character from Willie Stark to Willie Talos. From Polk’s perspective, he was merely changing the name back to the one with which Warren started before the editor recommended a change. Another notable difference Polk pointed out is the treatment of a subplot about a character named Cass Mastern, an ancestor of the narrator whose life he researched as a PhD candidate in history. According to Polk, the editor did not like the Cass Mastern episode so perhaps it was somewhat truncated in the final edition.I will remain agnostic in this conflict. Turning to other matters, Warren importantly rejected the notion that his novel was a roman à clef faithfully based on the life of Louisiana Governor and Senator Huey “Kingfish” Long. To be sure, though, Long certainly inspired the work. As Warren himself noted:“...If I had never gone to live in Louisiana and if Huey Long had not existed, the novel would never have been written. But this is far from saying that my ‘state’ in All the King’s Men is Louisiana, or that my Willie Stark is the late Senator. What Louisiana and Senator Long gave me was a line of ‘thinking and feeling’ that did eventuate in the novel.”For my part, I wish to note the prominent role of the narrator, Jack Burden. He is arguably the second most important character after Willie (you pick the last name) himself. As Mario Vargas Llosa remarked in reference to Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, which featured a prominent omniscient narrator, such a role for the narrator is a characteristic of classical novels in contrast to modern novels, in which the narrator fades into the background. So it is interesting that Warren used this classical technique.Overall, I was enormously impressed by the deep character development, the author’s powers of description as a poet, and the rapid unfolding of events in the dramatic and surprise-filled dénouement. All the King’s Men certainly deserved the Pulitzer Prize, which it was awarded in 1947.

  • Emma
    2018-10-20 18:13

    This is one of my favorite books. In addition to writing novels, Robert Penn Warren was a poet laureate. When I was first introduced to this book I was told that it was a lyrical novel, which I assume means that its prose have rhythm and tempo. In addition to being a captivating story, the style of the book is constantly engaging. I love the description at the beginning of the novel when the characters are driving down a highway road in Mississippi at night. The author sets the tempo of the moment be describing the white lines that divide the road as coming at you, they keep coming at you.

  • Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
    2018-10-15 17:05

    Up to where I have reached, I think this novel deserves five stars.The first 100 pages were very slow and I wanted to give up bu then...cameWillie TalosJack BurdenTiny DuffSugar BoySadieWho is the protagonist? I think it's Willie Talos. The story is being nattated by Jack Burden who works for Willie Talos. He is a private investigator. Tiny Duff and Sadie Burke are campaign managers. Sugar Boy is Willie Talos' driver. Politics has affected the lives of these characters in one way or another. They have a common trait which is all arrogance.The novel is about politics. It will show you how politics changes people's minds through Willie Talos. He started off as an ideal and honest politician. These traits, as much as ordinary folks admire them, cannot earn one a position in politics. This is confirmed by Surdie Burke, who says that in politics, if one has to rise, he or she must play with people's emotions, make them cry or laugh and you will get their attention and votes.The novel begins by showing us how Willie Talos has changed in politics. To the point where his family cannot recognize him. It then goes on to show us how Willie Talos joined politics and how he transformed into it.There is no right and wrong, Willie Talos uses this quote a lot. In fact everything he says only favors his own political ambitions. He uses people to rise and secure his own political ambitions.SlaveryThe novel also talks about slavery. The effects of slavery is clearly brought out in the story of Carl Marnsen and Gilbert Marnsen.Am really having a rough time writing this book's review. Maybe it because politics is not my strong point.

  • Annmarie Sheahan
    2018-10-31 17:56

    This is an important book. And not just because I spent my last year of my undergraduate career reading and researching it in order to write a thesis on historical fiction, and not because it was recommended to me by the most influential teacher of my life, and not because Warren won a Pulitzer Prize due to it. It just is an important book. It didn't keep my attention the whole time, and I will be the first to admit that I skimmed over several sections, and it didn't provoke the emotional reaction it did in 21 year old me, who really isn't me anymore, but simply a part of the older me. But it does have some beautiful passages and ideas and themes in it that left me thinking, even if it didn't trigger me emotionally as it once did. This is an important book. I'm glad I reread it, even if it did add to the sort of careless depression I've been feeling toward the world as of late. Quotes from the novel that I never want to forget:"There is nothing like a good book to put you to sleep with the illusion that life is rich and meaningful.""For life is motion toward knowledge.""There was nothing particularly wrong with them. They were just the ordinary garden variety of human garbage.""And soon now we shall go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and the awful responsibility of time."

  • Charlie
    2018-10-20 13:00

    by Robert Penn WarrenNarrator Jack Burton traces the political career of Willy Stark who goes from country bumpkin to kingpin. The story shows the underbelly of politics and how right and wrong blend together. Willy Stark described his relationship between goodness and badness; "Goodness. Yeah, just plain, simple goodness. Well you can’t inherit that from anybody. You got to make it, Doc. If you want it. And you got to make it out of badness. Badness." Willy Stark, by justifying his badness to make goodness, finds himself too deep to make make the switch back to a moralistic life. Jack Burton finds himself broken and empty, not lonely empty, but soullessly empty. He uses the phrase, "The Great Twitch", to describe how he sees everything as motivated by some inborn reflex action with nobody responsible for their choices. "The Great Twitch" is like the chicken running around the coop with its head already removed. I loved this book for is characters, mood, and beautifully written style.

  • Susan Merrell
    2018-10-25 09:54

    Strange to be reading this book in this particular political season. But nobody here appears more evil than anyone we currently think of as a member of our political class. Chalk that up to television shows and movies, as well as the 24 hour news media--all of this has skewed our expectations. Now we simply expect flagrant awfulness, and are looking for the negatives, the flaws, the self-interested agenda. But here even the worst characters are far from caricature. Flawed, yes, but committed believers who work hard and want to make things better. Perhaps that is true of most of our political class as well? Most striking to this reader are the beautiful, beautiful, luminous sentences. Descriptions are gorgeous and unusual, and what Penn Warren SEES is thump the forehead enlightening. The psychological slant is resonant and true.

  • Rachel Elizabeth
    2018-10-23 16:10

    The great American novel, yes. A still relevant story about how the idealist becomes tainted by his involvement in politics, and what it's like for his most ardent followers to wake up to that, yes. Richly drawn characters who earn your empathy, absolutely. But my reason for loving this book is as simple as the fact that Warren's language is some of the most sensuous, essentially Southern prose that I've read.

  • Trevor Incogneato
    2018-10-17 10:05

    this book brings me to ruin every single time.some notes from this time around:sister asking why i mark pages in books i rereadbrother in law asking why i would ever read a book more than once i think about this book every day. no joke

  • Steve N
    2018-11-03 10:05

    All the King’s Men was not the political novel I expected, but instead, a philosophical epic. There are so many deep, introspective thoughts that it seems like Warren’s novel breathes with emotion without having a character shed a tear. This book is full of life, but not in the way you imagine.Warren’s work of fiction focuses heavily on Jack Burden, the trusted friend and hired hand of Governor Willie Talos. Jack Burden is a former journalist with a philosophical outlook on life and a propensity for the facts. Jack is smart, strategic, and quick witted yet he almost seems detached from the happenings around him. Talos is a sweet-talking, old country attorney with fire in his blood and a knack for getting his way. With Jack as the centerpiece, the lives of the characters are brutally tossed around while the lines between right and wrong are blurred. All the King’s Men can be slow. There are plenty of times you think you are wasting your time reading another anecdote or background piece, yet it always comes back into play one way or another. As the book ebbs and flows, the one constant throughout is Jack’s unbiased quick wit. Although I was hoping the book would be centered around the governor Willie Talos, Jack Burden is one of the best narrators I’ve read. This is the first fiction book that I’ve taken out a pen to mark the pages because I felt some of the quotes were so profound. It’s not a happy novel and is not an easy read, but it touches on complex human issues without being overly emotional. Verdict: You keep doing you, Jack Burden. Screw you, Anne Stanton. 82% Steve Nicholas Avocados

  • Robert
    2018-10-27 18:06

    Robert Penn Warren's classic political novel, All the King's Men, is grounded in two things. The first thing is the notion of the angry underdog rising up to become a political scourge of the rich and entitled and along the way losing his personal bearings by womanizing too much, drinking too much, and thumping his enemies too hard...so he ends up hoisted on the petard of his machiavellian maneuverings and what could have been isn't what finally happens. Willie Stark ends up murdered (not assassinated, murdered, because the killing is personal, not political), but again, the notion of a rube country lawyer getting smart and powerful and taking on the vested interests is a compelling one, perhaps especially in America where our basic myth is that each of us is a sovereign...so why shouldn't any one of us, even Willie Stark, get the upper hand?So that's one element of All the King's Men's strength and staying power. The other element, or ground, or just plain thing, is the way the novel is written. It's a southern novel in that it's wordy, folksy, fleshy, and sort of sweaty (because it's hot in Louisiana or Mississippi or wherever the action takes place), but more than that it's the unbridled, full gallop expression of a poetic gift busted out of the corral. Warren's characterizations, his descriptions, the way he sets up scenes with piles of vivid details, is flat out hypnotizing. He makes cars scream, ruins good suits in drenching rains, hides fires in glasses of bourbon, discovers the cheesy smell of old law books, reveals the sexiness of a pock-marked woman who never gets her hair right, and turns a bay's waters fleeing an oncoming storm into bedding being hastily thrown back so that wind god lovers can wrestle in its cottony white foam.Similes, metaphors, sayings, philosophizing and every other rhetorical device and trick enrich this text, usually not going too far, usually veering away from purple excess, and usually, as I am doing right now, employing repetition as the cardinal means of hammering thoughts and significance into the reader's hard head.The truest delight of this book is the narrator's voice, informed by Warren's poetic skill. He writes recursively, which is to say he manages to double back and double back, exploring a second and a third time, the essential rhythms of a confrontation, a scene, and a setting. This takes fortitude and imagination. Fortitude in this case is sheer writerly strength, staying power. Imagination is a varied way of reconceiving what already has been said well and saying it better.Jack Burden, our narrator, Willie's sidekick and counselor, keeps scratching at the opaque surface of things so we can see what's inside. Jack Burden, like this sentence which invokes Jack Burden's name again, doesn't hesitate to give us another well-modulated earful about what's wrong with Willie, what's wrong with Jack Burden, what's wrong with Willie's son, what's wrong with Jack Burden's girlfriend, and what's wrong with Willie's enemies--all of them. That's Jack Burden, doing something most of us have been taught not to do, i.e., use the same words and even the same inflections almost ad nauseam (but not quite) instead of coming up with something new. But here's the thing: Jack Burden builds narrative momentum by inserting just the littlest changes in previously employed formulations; he does this so often and with such art that we get his point the way we get a room in which we are sitting for an hour or so, taking it in once, then again, then a third time, transforming it into a place that we are sick of, or fascinated by, or come to confuse with the cosmos itself, nothing much existing outside this hospital waiting room, or this courtroom, or this miserable hotel room with its threadbare rug and wilted curtains and water-stained ceiling. Reading All the King's Men is like that; you get stuck in its sentences and story because it skillfully sucks you in deeper and deeper. Your life and the novel's life merge, and the novel's life is more graphic, has more pulse, offers more interesting smells, like those cheesy old law books.All the King's Men probably is Robert Penn Warren's best known work of literature, but it's far from his best. His poetry is leaner, stronger, and in some ways wilder. His poetry is more concentrated. His poetry is less repetitious. His poetry is more terrifying. There are hawks and skulls and winds in his poetry that are more memorable than almost anything in All the King's Men, but All the King's Men is a powerful myth that sprawls through thousands and thousands of words and for many hours it has its way and remains worth reading 70 plus years after it was written.

  • Emily
    2018-11-13 11:51

    A story of American politics based loosely on the Louisiana politician Huey Long, who is a good man turned bad by his desire for power...this is what I thought the book was about. Fortunately, it was so much more. A page-turning story of family, loyalty, morality, truth, power...I could go on and on, the story was so rich. I already feel like I need to read it again, to pick up on all the things I missed. And the writing was fabulous. I usually prefer writing that is lean and concise, but Warren writes in run-on sentences, ramblings, tangents...all the things I normally hate..but the writing was so great, I just sat back and enjoyed....words that were both beautiful and made you think (and now I am writing in run-ons). The story does jump around a lot (past, present, future), so its best to read in as few sittings as possible to keep track. Also, I unknowingly read the extended edition, which I would never consciously choose, but fortunately I enjoyed the book so much the extra pages were not a burden.

  • Susan Haines
    2018-10-19 14:51

    I'm thinking when this book came out with the theme of a politically corrupt politician willing to do what it takes to hang on to power, it was a bit scandalous. Reading it today, I found the plot a little ho-hum, as corrupt politicians can be found in any party and are barely anything to blink an eye over, but was more disturbed by my inability to find compassion for any of the characters, including the narrator. I also made the mistake of reading the restored version, which I think meant everything removed by an editor to make it more readable when it came out was added back in after the book won awards and the author gained fame. Lots and lots of long-winded descriptions by a folksy narrator (who sounds like Huckleberry Hound on the audio version) took away from the fact that the author has an obvious gift for language. And, for some reason, I found it difficult to follow the jumping time frame and was not always sure if we were in the past or present.I'm thinking of reading the play version to see if that grabs me a bit more effectively.

  • Susan
    2018-10-14 14:10

    Robert Penn Warren won the Pulitzer in 1947 for this masterpiece of American literature. Although its political and philosophical relevance to today is remarkable, I loved this book even more for its language. Listen to this:"It looked like those farm houses you ride by in the country in the middle of the afternoon, with the chickens under the trees and the dog asleep, and you know the men folks are out in the field and the woman has finished washing up the dishes and has swept the kitchen and has gone upstairs to lie down for half an hour and has pulled off her dress and kicked off her shoes and is lying there on her back on the bed in the shadowy room with her eyes closed and a strand of her hair still matted down on her forehead with the perspiration. She listens to the flies cruising around the room, then she listens to your motor getting big out on the road, then it shrinks off into the distance and she listens to the flies. That was the kind of house it was."

  • judy
    2018-10-26 14:21

    I read this as a political protest. I knew that under the character of Willie Stark was the real Huey Long--the Kingfish and demagogue of Louisiana in the 1930s. I was particularly looking forward to the end--and was not disappointed. I was surprised, however. This is not just a book about Willie--it truly is a novel where well developed characters try to work out their own lives. When I finally shed my notions about this being a Huey book, I found myself engrossed. This book is considered a classic and the best novel written about politics at the time. I rather doubt that it still holds that title because we've become so much more vile as the decades rolled on. Still, Willie does use the most tried and true technique to get what he wants. If I had to choose among voting for two demagogues--I'd take Willie by a mile.

  • Mary
    2018-10-13 12:12

    Someone suggested this as a must read during an election year. Well, I took that advice to heart but found it was way too wordy for my taste. I read about 75 to 100 pages when I decided to just flip through it to get the story and then it went onto the shelf where it will stay.

  • Jill
    2018-10-13 10:10

    All the King's Men is the story of Jack Burden, a former newspaper reporter now working in politics in depression era Alabama. It is also the story of Willie Talos (or Stark in the original printing, I hear), the governor he works for. Willie begins his foray into politics in his twenties as a fresh-faced, sincere law student full of ideas for how to help his state. Eventually, though, he realizes that ideas and sincerity don't get you political power. He quickly wises up to the way the system works and claws his way to the top by means of blackmail and back room dealing. But pride goes before a fall, of course. And before all is said and done, Jack slowly uncovers things about those closest to him, learning that even the most incorruptible of his friends can be bought for the right price.I'm having a hard time rating this one. It was quite a grind to read. The chapters are quite long (anywhere from 50 to 100 pages), so I felt like I was making a major time commitment every time I sat down to read. Also, while the last third of the book has several important things happen all at once, the first two thirds are backstory and buildup, so it often felt like slow going. To top it all off, it's really kind of a downer of a novel. It presents a very cynical view not just of politics but of human nature in general.On the other hand, every time I did get myself to sit down and read it, I had a hard time tearing myself away. The writing is almost hypnotic in its ability to draw you in. Warren's talent as a poet laureate comes blazing through in nearly every single sentence. I would find myself wanting to save a particular sentence only to realize that the entire paragraph was beautifully said, and then I'd realize that the whole set of paragraphs was especially poignant. And pretty soon you find yourself realizing that nearly every line packs a punch. You'd have to quote the whole book.It is also a very moving novel. The tragedy of the story feels larger than life and yet at the same time very relatable. I do think its absolutely worth a read, and I think most people will find something in the book to ponder.So in the end, I'll go with the four stars. I was very close to five though.(I have never read the original version, so I have no idea how this restored version compares. I only know that this version was in itself quite good.)

  • en
    2018-10-21 18:17

    600 pages of confusion. Here is why you should not read All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. It does have an interesting plot. However, it is not enough for me to recommend the book. It is focused on a politician and what he does in order to get votes. He is well liked by the people who vote for him, and you can see throughout the book his attempt to pander to the people and hide things. The problem is that this book is insanely descriptive. In most cases, descriptive writing works well in books, but in All the King’s Men, there will be two whole pages of just describing one thing or a flashback to a different time, and it is too easy to lose track of what is being described in the first place. For example, in the beginning, he only talks about a highway, thinking back to when the highway was not there, and 10 pages later he is suddenly back on the highway. The book can also be tough to understand because of the dialogue; it is written in a way that tries to make you think of an old southern dialogue. Some of these can be funny, (“Hit wuz fahr and squahr, but he had a leetle bad luck. He stabbed the feller and he died.”), and sometimes they can make you think. However, when there is too much of this, it can get confusing as to what it means. It can almost be like you are reading a book that was written in a different language. The extreme descriptiveness of the book also makes it very slow paced. You could go through two entire chapters and have nothing happen. If you prefer to have suspense or quick changes, this is not the book for you. I think that even some people who are okay with slower paces may not like this book because it is not slow paced, so much as it is no paced. In conclusion, this is not best book that you will ever read. You should probably read something else, because this is slow-paced and confusing. If you are looking for an interesting book, do not choose this one. If you want a book that is torturous to read, then you can go ahead and buy it.

  • Tracey
    2018-10-16 17:16

    fiction (1946) - swampy politics and fatal entanglements, as seen through the eyes of 1940s misogynist governor's ex-reporter aide. This was ok; the editor's remarks at the end were more interesting than the text, but I am not much of a literary analyst, so I'd have missed all that stuff with Jack's seemingly pointlessly meandering, self-absorbed narrative. There aren't really any good characters--the men are mostly jerks/caught up in blackmail/politics/dirty business and the women are dismissed as flighty, foolish, crafty but homely, or else being heavily criticized for having an unfavorable opinion of the narrator (who, not surprisingly, also calls her stupid). I'm not sure it would win any prizes when put up against today's writings, but apparently this has been continuously in print for 50+ years and has its share of fans.

  • Jimmy
    2018-10-27 17:57

    Took me a while to get into this Pulitzer winner, but it was well worth it. An excellent book. Extremely well-written and thought-provoking. A pretty accurate glimpse into the character of Southern political populism, which is all about the power and privilege that corrupt and wealthy elites accumulate on the backs of the people without really giving two whits about the lives of the people themselves. There is not a single character I found likable and relatable in the entire book. What is it about Southern elites that make them so godawful? Don't get me wrong: this was Warren's point. It's just there is something gross and seedy about Southern elite pretenses and attitudes. This book captures that well in what I think is exquisite writing.

  • Wayne Avrashow
    2018-11-13 17:02

    This is recognized as one of, if not the greatest political novel of all. I read it decades ago and after writing my novel which also centers around politics, I read the restored edition. This has a new opening chapter. The book is set in a bygone era of deep southern political corruption. It is loosely, or not so loosely, based on Louisiana's Huey Long who served as both Governor and Senator from that state in the 1920s-30s. The characters are fascinating, the dialogue crisp and the visual portrait of humid southern nights will make you reach to dab yourself. told from the perspective of a top aide to Willie Stark aka the "Boss." The book is great, but dated and the racial slurs are accurate for its time, but very disturbing today.

  • Carter Morrison
    2018-11-03 12:02

    All the King's Men was a satisfying book to read. It wasn't as political (party-wise) as I was expecting, but it was still a good read. It was also good for me to be surprised. The book had many interesting twists, such as Willie gradually becoming corrupt. When Jack was betrayed, it was also shocking. It started fairly slow and had a lot of descriptive language, which I don't appreciate as much as I probably should. It also had a fair amount of slurs and curses. Regardless, it was still definitely worth reading.

  • Kirsten Kinnell
    2018-10-27 18:10

    I only realized half way through that the edition I was reading was the restored version. I have no idea how it compares to the non-restored version, but this was extraordinary. Somehow both a complex novel of the interior life and the nature of goodness and time, and a political drama, full of poetry and wit, it was nevertheless so compelling that I complained, late one night, that I couldn't find a place to stop reading. I recommend this edition heartily, and maybe someday will read the other to compare.

  • Joseph Belser
    2018-10-28 12:05

    Amazing book. Moving. Beautifully written. Well-plotted. Unforgettable characters. Poetic. You can't go wrong.

  • Natalie
    2018-10-25 16:02

    Felt disjointed because I read it in two goes... that being said, it felt slow to me. Worth re-reading, but not too soon.

  • Glennon Harrison
    2018-10-21 11:02

    In the age of Trump, this is a wonderful book. Especially the revised edition. It has been 45 years since I last read All the Kings Men and I found it much more profound today than when I was young.

  • Simon
    2018-11-06 11:10

    Really enjoyed this book, had me gripped all the way through.

  • Coral
    2018-10-30 15:16

    1/4 books for Strange Louisiana class. This book is so dense, my God.

  • Rowland Pasaribu
    2018-10-18 15:08

    All the King's Men focuses on the lives of Willie Stark, an upstart farm boy who rises through sheer force of will to become Governor of an unnamed Southern state during the 1930s, and Jack Burden, the novel's narrator, a cynical scion of the state's political aristocracy who uses his abilities as a historical researcher to help Willie blackmail and control his enemies. The novel deals with the large question of the responsibility individuals bear for their actions within the turmoil of history, and it is perhaps appropriate that the impetus of the novel's story comes partly from real historical occurrences. Jack Burden is entirely a creation of Robert Penn Warren, but there are a number of important parallels between Willie Stark and Huey Long, who served Louisiana as both Governor and Senator from 1928 until his death in 1935.Like Huey Long, Willie Stark is an uneducated farm boy who passed the state bar exam; like Huey Long, he rises to political power in his state by instituting liberal reform designed to help the state's poor farmers. And like Huey Long, Willie is assassinated at the peak of his power by a doctor--Dr. Adam Stanton in Willie's case, Dr. Carl A. Weiss in Long's. (Unlike Willie, however, Long was assassinated after becoming a Senator, and was in fact in the middle of challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.)All the King's Men is the story of the rise and fall of a political titan in the Deep South during the 1930s. Willie Stark rises from hardscrabble poverty to become governor of his state and its most powerful political figure; he blackmails and bullies his enemies into submission, and institutes a radical series of liberal reforms designed to tax the rich and ease the burden of the state's poor farmers. He is beset with enemies--most notably Sam MacMurfee, a defeated former governor who constantly searches for ways to undermine Willie's power--and surrounded by a rough mix of political allies and hired thugs, from the bodyguard Sugar-Boy O'Sheean to the fat, obsequious Tiny Duffy.All the King's Men is also the story of Jack Burden, the scion of one of the state's aristocratic dynasties, who turns his back on his genteel upbringing and becomes Willie Stark's right-hand man. Jack uses his considerable talents as a historical researcher to dig up the unpleasant secrets of Willie's enemies, which are then used for purposes of blackmail. Cynical and lacking in ambition, Jack has walked away from many of his past interests--he left his dissertation in American History unfinished, and never managed to marry his first love, Anne Stanton, the daughter of a former governor of the state.When Willie asks Jack to look for skeletons in the closet of Judge Irwin, a father figure from Jack's childhood, Jack is forced to confront his ideas concerning consequence, responsibility, and motivation. He discovers that Judge Irwin accepted a bribe, and that Governor Stanton covered it up; the resulting blackmail attempt leads to Judge Irwin's suicide. It also leads to Adam Stanton's decision to accept the position of director of the new hospital Willie is building, and leads Anne to begin an affair with Willie. When Adam learns of the affair, he murders Willie in a rage, and Jack leaves politics forever.Willie's death and the circumstances in which it occurs force Jack to rethink his desperate belief that no individual can ever be responsible for the consequences of any action within the chaos and tumult of history and time. Jack marries Anne Stanton and begins working on a book about Cass Mastern, the man whose papers he had once tried to use as the source for his failed dissertation in American History.The first chapter of the novel introduces the character of Willie Stark in dramatic fashion--in Mason City, Willie is utterly in charge of the situation from start to finish; he has the crowd in the palm of his hand, and is surrounded by a group of underlings whom he directs as he pleases. Willie is presented as a dynamic, forceful personality capable of captivating and overwhelming those around him.We are also introduced to the wry, descriptive intelligence of Jack Burden, the novel's narrator and the only person in the chapter whom Willie seems to respect. As the novel progresses, we learn a bit about both Jack and Willie's origins: Willie comes from a hardscrabble farm in Mason County where he visits his father; Jack comes from a mansion in aristocratic Burden's Landing, where his mother continues to live. Jack's flashback to his first meeting with Willie at Slade's shows how Willie's effect on people worked even before Willie had power, as he overcomes Tiny Duffy's attempts to make him drink a beer, and instead has an orange soda. It also shows how far Willie has come: in the scene at Slade's, Tiny attempted to bully Willie; now, he is his obsequious underling.

  • Tyler Cowart
    2018-10-13 10:52

    I was really torn with rating this book. I blazed through the second half because if was really good, but it did take me 2 months to finish because the beginning was just too long. The version I read was a restored edition and having not read the original I'm not sure what was different in this edition. However, I surmise that this edition contains material that was likely cut from the original. At least that's what I tell myself because some of this book should have been cut from the beginning half.The beginning of the book does lay a good foundation for the events that occur later in the novel and the impact those events have on Jack (as well as the reader). There are many things, though not extremely interesting, that are important for the reader to get early on.I kind of thought this would be a story about the decline of Willie Talos' character, but it really wasn't. Ultimately I can't really feel the man is all that good regardless of what he does (which isn't much in the way of good anyway) because of the way he puts his wife off, not for love of another woman but because he just sleeps around. I also didn't really like Sadie Burke's anger towards him for sleeping around and 'cheating on her' when she was only his mistress to begin with. I also was kind of pissed that Anne was sleeping with him and that Jack still ended up wanting to marry her in the end anyway.Elements of the story I really liked:-The change in relationship Jack has with his mom as he realizes she is capable of love and the poignant thought that this knowledge is enough to rewrite some of his past.-The idea that everyone has dirt and that maybe that dirt is part of what gets people where they need to be to do good (not that I believe it necessarily, but it was a good thought)-The whole part with the judge. From early on we know that the dirt Jack finds is going to be bad enough to make the judge 'never recover' but the way the author kept the judge's dirt hidden until Jack revealed it was great. The judge's relationship to Jack was something I didn't see coming. I was upset that Jack blackmailed him in the first place, but I appreciated watching him battle with the decision of whether or not to go through with it and because of the judge's actions we can only guess what Jack would have done in the long run.-The shift Jack has in how he views the man he's known as his father.-The differences between Lucy and the boss in the future they see for Tom and where they think the boss is actually leading him.-Sadie's discussion with Jack at the end of the book and her willingness to stand before a court as well as her advice that Jack let it go. I also like that Jack can forgive her because she acted while she was 'hot' whereas Duffy acted 'cold'.-Jack's first attempt to dig for the dirt with the Masons-Lucy Talos and the babyUltimately there was a lot I really liked about the book and what I liked far outweighed what I didn't like. It was certainly a worthwhile read although I still think everything good about this book could have been accomplished with a much shorter beginning.