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.
©1946 Robert Penn Warren; renewed 1974 Robert Penn Warren; (P)2005 Recorded Books
"The definitive novel about American politics." (The New York Times)
"Mr. Warren has employed vivid characterization and strong language combined with subtle overtones to write a vital, compelling narrative." (Booklist)
"Michael Emerson's performance brings the characters to life with verve and personality....Through a mix of understatement and intensity, Emerson clearly conveys the political turmoil underlying the book; his performance perfectly complements the story, which is as timely as it was 60 years ago....Emerson's reading does justice to a great work." (AudioFile)
I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
Robert Penn Warren was something of a god among men during his career. He was both a novelist and a poet, and he was literally great at both. This is his masterpiece. It is the story of Huey Long, the governor of Louisiana during the 1930s, and a PR man named Jack Burden. Long is given the name Willie Stark. The actual governor's election slogan was "Every man a king," which might give you something of an idea of what a master of political rhetoric he was. He was a mercurial man, a mighty politician, loved by many and scorned by many for the corruption of his administration. The twin stories of Jack and Willie are brilliantly intertwined. Michael Emerson is a truly wonderful narrator. His ability to convey all the characters of this rich story is remarkable. His Southern accents are perfect. His portrayal of Willie as a man of profound gifts is just magnificent: we are lucky to be able to listen to such a performance.
The stories of Willie Stark and Jack Burden are a bit too long (sorry for the pun), and a sub-plot involving the history of Cass Mastern et al is really a distraction. Jack's mother is a perfect southern archetype: from the hills of Arkansas to New Orleans society by way of both her fragile beauty and her steely wiles with men, Jack shows us a picture of his mother that is poignant and startling. Warren creates a panoply of actors who are fully ranged from low-life slimy craven Southern politicians to the intellectual and incorruptible Judge Irwin, to the triangular relationship among Jack, and Adam and Anne Stanton. This book is really way too wonderful to depict it with credibility in a brief review; I could go on for pages, but I'll spare you. The two most important women in Willie's life, his wife Lucy and his white-hot political assistant Sadie Burke: both of them are in their own ways tormented by Willie's gigantic appetites. Warren's gifts are so many that it's arbitrary to list just a few. His ability to show us what politics really was like at the time, so full of human ambition, frailty, corruption, double- and triple-dealing; it is like having a front row seat to one of the greatest dramas of the twentieth century. Many Northerners know little about the real South; listening to Warren's work and Emerson's amazing performance provides us with the absolute best in learning by being entertained. You have to commit a number of hours to this book, but it is one of the most worthwhile commitments you can make. I can't imagine any Audible reader not loving this book. Really.
Great book, great story. This is the fictionalized version of the greatest showman politician ever. Crooked as a can of worms, but completely honest about it! Only in Louisiana could you find politics so unabashedly corrupt and completely successful all at the same time! Loved it !!
This is an awesome audio book. The novel is excellent but the narration is superb --- the best I have listened to so far. The narrator is a brilliant artist. The novel is complex and serious work of art. It is for adults--- not for children. It is poetic, profound, and dazzling.
I found this novel to be one of the most amazing literary experiences I've ever had. I concur with another review, there's nothing I can add to what has been said of this wonderful novel. I will compliment Michael Emerson here, as have others. His reading was compelling, draws the listener into the story, and brings the images to life. If I were to recommend only one audiobook to a friend, this would be it.
Yes, this is a classic political novel, but it is so much more than that. It is about the South and America in the early 20th century, coming of age and life in general. A good book and a good audio production.
This is a fabulous novel of life and love even more than it is of politics or the south or an era.
Apparently some feel that the language and morals in the book is offensive; I strenuously disagree. This is moral artistry of the highest order, with a richness of portrait and reflection on its themes that is superb and subtle.
Wonderfully written, excellently narrated, this is a great book that is greatly underrated.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
"Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something...”
I loved the lyrical writing in this story of Willie Stark and Jack Burden. It was a beautiful tragedy and the only reason I give it 4 stars is the fact that it has a happy ending which does not fit the tone of the rest of the novel.
Based loosely on Louisiana Governor Huey Long's life and death this book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947.
It has wonderful characters and the storyline is consistent and enlightening on the South of the 30's to 40's. Instead of feeling like a dated story it feels like you have stepped back in time and been welcomed in with open arms.
The narrator does a good job on this book.
It's a classic that you will never forget.
In a long life of reading, I have always known of this book, but thought it wasn't for me. Pegged as the Great American Political Novel, it sounded limited to me. If I want to read about American politics, I'll read non-fiction. I have had just the wonderful experience, at 69, of reading one of the most interesting novels of my life for the first time! And better yet, it comes from my own country, in my own language, and written not long before I was born. I'm saying all this to convey how personal this book feels. I feel my parents, myself, and my children in this book, even though our personal details have no similarity to anything in the book. And beware, there is NOTHING comforting here. What a book. And well read.
This is a good book. Perhaps a great book. But the reader has to be in the proper frame of mind before taking it on. Author Robert Penn Warren was a poet. A Southern poet. A Pulitzer Prize winning Southern Poet Laureate. And as a Pulitzer Prize winning Southern Poet Laureate, he has a particularly Southern way of telling a story. Any Southerner will understand. There are no short cuts for a true Southern story teller. You just have to sit back, relax, maybe pour yourself a cool glass of sweat tea and breathe out… breath in… breath out… There. Now you're ready. No. Wait. Let me turn on the porch fan. It can get a bit sticky up here on the porch in the late afternoon. Better? Good. Now we can begin. Hold it. What's that dog gotten into now? Oh. Never mind. The dog's right here, asleep under the chair. Must be a opossum under the porch again. We can worry 'bout that later. Now where was I? Oh yes. The book review…
Now imagine 500 pages of that. Yes, it's long, long-winded and sometimes it seems to take forever to get anywhere. But there is a good story here, full of politics, sex, intrigue, murder and a big, heapin' helpin' of Southern culture thrown in for good measure. Sensitive readers should be aware that the "N-word" is casually tossed about in the dialog of many characters throughout the book—Not for the purpose of supporting any racist agenda—but simply to accurately portray how many Southerners talked and thought at the time and place of the story. (Early 1920's-'30's Louisiana.)
So there you have it. This is a book for the literate, those interested in artful prose, Southern history, Southern sensibilities. It is a book that has and will undoubtedly stand the test of time. The themes and issues contained are themes and issues that human beings will always face. Lust, greed, sex, power, religion, influence, manipulation. Ultimately, it's a tale about the human condition, told in a slow, easy manner by a consummate Southern story teller. Enjoy.
Oh, and darlin'? My tea could use a little refresher. Thank you kindly.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
Nowadays the idea that there could be a backstory building up behind the main story is so commonplace that we hardly notice it. But there was a time when that was a relatively new idea. Willie Stark is such a towering figure in this story that it can be easy to overlook that there are other plotlines going on. What Warren does with the narrator in this book is so masterful and subtle that it takes a while to appreciate. Then again, if all you want is a fictionalized biography of Huey Long, you can enjoy it that way too.
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