All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren is set in the 1930’s and tells the story of Willie Talos’ (or Stark depending on the version you are reading) rise to power as Governor of Louisiana. Talos is most probably a thinly fictionalized version of Senator Huey Long, a charismatic politician who shook up the status quo. Long was a complex politician, a man of the people and a populist but not immune to corruption, he was assassinated in 1935. Willie does a lot of good for the people of his state but he is not opposed to using whatever method for achieving his goals is most efficient, not necessarily considered the most correct. The story’s other main character is a newspaperman who goes to work for Willie; it is through him we see the historic context and local influences. Both men are fully rendered, complicated, rich characters. Willie is charismatic, able to give rousing speeches that bring his people to their feet. His energy is boundless, his ambition equally so. All the King’s Men won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Robert Penn Warren was also a Pulitzer Prize winner for his poetry.
— Deon Stonehouse
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
The fully restored original text of the classic, ever-relevant story of a backcountry lawyer whose idealism is overcome by his lust for power—American literature's definitive political novel.
All the King's Men traces the rise of fall of demagogue Willie Talos, a fiction Southern policitian who resembles the real-life Huey Long of Louisiana. Talos begins his career as an idealistic man of the people, but he soon becomes corrupted by success and the lust for power.
Now Warren's masterpiece has been fully restored and reintroduced by literary scholar Noel Polk, textual editor of the works of William Faulkner. Polk presents the novel as it was originally written, revealing even greater energy, excitement, and complexity.
About the Author
Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989) won three Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, the National Medal for Literature, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1986 he was named the country’s first poet laureate.
PRAISE FOR ALL THE KING'S MEN
"Over the course of more than two centuries of vivid political history, there is perhaps only one full-blooded American novel of politics that plunges deep into the hearts of its characters and therefore into the hearts of its readers, thus rising to the top ranks of American fiction. That is Robert Penn Warren's lush All the King's Men."
- L O S A N G E L E S T I M E S B O O K R E V I E W
"It's a measure of the enduring worth of All the King's Men that Willie Stark has entered our collective literary consciousness, in the company of Captain Ahab, Huck Finn, Jay Gatsby, Holden Caulfield, Rabbit Angstrom, and very few others."
- J O Y C E C A R O L O A T E S , T H E N E W Y O R K R E V I E W O F B O O K S