All the King’s Men

Warren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men. Orlando: Harvest Book, 1946.

I have to admit, parts of All the King’s Men were difficult to read. Flashbacks within flashbacks sometimes had me a little lost. There was a lot of jumping between 1922, 1936 and 1939, all seemingly on a whim. Willie Stark is backwoods man trying to move past increasing corruption on his way up the political ladder. His story, loosely based on Louisiana governor, Huey Long, is told from the point of view of his aide, Jack Burden. Being a former journalist, Jack knows his way around incriminating information and he knows how to use it. Most of the story is about Jack struggling with the different relationships in his life. Morality plays a huge part in his development as a character. One of the biggest take-aways of the book is Warren’s descriptive language. I have never been to the deep south but I felt as if I had experienced Louisiana first hand.

Quotes I caught, “How life is strange and changeful, and the crystal is in the steel at the point of fracture, and the toad bears a jewel in its forehead, and the meaning of moments passes like the breeze that scarcely ruffles the leaf of the willow (p 27). What? Here’s another, “If the human race didn’t remember anything it would be perfectly happy” (p 60).

Reason read: everyone knows the U.S. holds its elections in November. Read in honor of Tuesday, November 4th as Election Day.

Author fact: Warren won three Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, a National Medal for Literature and the Presidential Medal for Freedom. If that wasn’t enough, he was also the nation’s first poet laureate.

Book trivia: All the King’s Men was made into a movie starring Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, among others. More importantly, AtKM is on the American Library Association’s list of top banned and/or challenged books of the 20th century.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Politics of Fiction” (p 189) and again in Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Texas Two-Step (After a Bob Wills Song)” (p 225).

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