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All the King's Men (1946)
Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (36)
Robert Penn Warren, who in 1986 was named the nation's first Poet Laureate, won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for this tremendous novel. It is my personal pick for the Great American Novel and I would place it just below Orwell on the Top 100 of the 20th Century list.
Most will be familiar with it's Huey Long derived tale of the rise and fall of populist politician Willie Stark. Jack Burden, the narrator, is a newspaperman who hitches himself to Stark's rising star. Eventually, Stark calls on Burden to get the goods on the lilly white Judge Irwin, the surrogate father of Jack's youth and a man of widely acknowledged rectitude:
Jack: But suppose there isn't anything to find.
Stark: There is always something.
Jack: Maybe not on the Judge.
Stark: Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption
and he passeth from the
Sure enough, Jack digs until he finds the ugly truth and unleashes a
I'm sure that this must seem too cynical to some, but it is actually
a marvelous retelling of the essential Puritan democratic myth that informs
the American system. Politics after all is nothing but a system of
choices about how some men will wield power over other men. All of
the choices are bad, but the
This is a book that John Adams would have loved and you will too.
Brothers Judd Top 100 of the 20th Century: Novels
Library Journal: Top 150 of the Century
Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century
Orrin's All-Time Top Ten (or twelve) List - Political
Orrin's All-Time Top Ten List - Novels
Pulitzer Prize (Fiction)
The Hungry Mind Review's 100 Best 20th Century Books
-KYLIT (a site devoted to Kentucky writers)
-Poetry Exhibit (Poets.org)
-Robert Penn Warren Birthplace Museum (Guthrie, KY)
-OBIT: Robert Penn Warren, Poet and Author, Dies
-ESSAY: IN THE TIME OF 'ALL THE KING'S MEN' (ROBERT PENN WARREN, May 31, 1981, NY Times Book Review)
-ONLINE STUDY GUIDE : All the King's Men (Brian Phillips, Spark Notes)
-REVIEW : of ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren (Nick Cohen, New Statesman)
-REVIEW: of Selected Letters of Robert Penn Warren Man of Letters: Collected missives give insight into great author's early years (Diann Blakely, Nashville Scene)
Anonymous (Joe Klein)
Bernstein, Carl and Bob Woodward
Cramer, Richard Ben