Tuesday, June 16, 2009

All The King's Men

by Robert Penn Warren

summary taken (in part) from Goodreads.com:
All the King's Men tells the story of Willie Stark, a southern-fried politician who builds support by appealing to the common man and playing dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. Though Stark quickly sheds his idealism, his right-hand man, Jack Burden -- who narrates the story -- retains it and proves to be a thorn in the new governor's side. Stark becomes a successful leader, but at a very high price.

This is one of those classics that I've tried and failed at several times. This time, I was determined to finish it, so when I got bogged down by the first chapter (which is nearly 50 pages long!) I just made a deal with myself to only read 20 pages a day. Once I actually got to the story of Willie Stark and his rise to political power, I had a hard time putting the story down, but it sure takes some work to get to the exciting part.

I really enjoyed this story. I love Jack, and I appreciate Willie. I really enjoyed watching Willie shift from politician who really wants to do what's best for his state (which is never mentioned by name, but is likely Louisiana) to the wheeling, dealing, dirty politician he becomes. The slide is there and obvious, but it does take some time for him to fall.

The story is loosely based in Huey Long (from Louisiana), who I know a bit about. It was enjoyable to see the comparisons.

The only real downfall to this book are the long drawn out sidetracks that Jack takes us on. Occasionally I wondered if Warren was getting paid by the word like Dickens did. There were some stories that I'm still not sure how they fit in. However, these are easily recognizable, so I suppose one could skim these sections if necessary.

On the whole, an enjoyable read. But, it would probably be less enjoyable for people who aren't super excited by politics (though I could be wrong there).


melissa said...

I've been meaning to read this...but may not ever actually get to it. That first chapter does sound difficult.

Laura H said...

Kt, have you read The Chosen one. I just read it last night. So good, so disturbing. Check it out.

KT said...

Melissa - I really did enjoy it once I forced myself into the story, so it might be worth it. All of the chapters are (too) long. I think the book is like 450 pages and there are only 10 chapters total. I hate that.

Laura - I haven't read that one yet and my library doesn't have a copy. Hopefully it will pick it up soon though, it sounds good.