Wednesday, October 19, 2016

All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

All the King's Men
Title: All the King's Men
Author: Robert Penn Warren
Publication Date: 1946
Pages: 672
Genre: Classic / Historical / Political / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 9/18/16

Summary: The dramatic career of politician Willie Stark is narrated by political reporter, Jack Burden. Their stories become intertwined as the plot advances.

What I Thought: I've always really wanted to like this book. It feels like a book I should like. And yet...

Maybe I read it at the wrong time. Maybe reading about about corrupt politics was not the right choice right now. Normally, you know I'm a huge political junkie. But this election cycle is even wearing on me. I'm binging on The West Wing and political idealism, not seeking out further commentary on how the system is broken. 

The story is good. The writing is good. I get why this book won the Pulitzer. And yet...

The misogynistic portrayal of women in the book didn't do me any favors either. Much of the book centers around the women in Stark's and Burden's lives. But they have very little actual power. They are handed back and forth like property. My disillusionment with sexist politicians is at an all time high these days, so even though the plot here is probably pretty realistic for the time period, it irritated me immensely.

Warren makes some great observations about American politics. He pulled back a veil on the dirty parts of politics, something we take for granted (unfortunately) these days. It's a great book, but I just don't know that it's for me - at least not this year.

Quote I Loved: "Hell, make 'em cry, make 'em laugh, make 'em think you're their weak erring pal, or make 'em think you're God Almighty. Or make 'em mad. Even mad at you. Just stir 'em up, it doesn't matter how or why, and they'll love you and come back for more. Pinch 'em in the soft place.'s up to you to give 'em something to stir 'em up and make 'em feel alive again. Just for half an hour. That's what they come for. Tell 'em anything. But for Sweet Jesus' sake don't try to improve their minds." Ughhhhh. Isn't this quote way to accurate during this election cycle??

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Yeah, I think I probably will, though years from now
If You Liked This, Try: The Day of the Locust / HRC / The Presidents Club

A Reduced Review: I wanted to like this political classic, but I had a hard time connecting to it - surprising considering its cultural accuracy. 

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