All The Kings Men

ISBN: 0156012952

This is a novel set in the 1930s about a Southern politician named Willie Stark who rises from a minor local government post to become governor of the state. It’s narrated from his right-hand man Jack Burden as he comes to terms with his place in the South while questioning the type of shady political work he does for Stark.

It’s hard to mess up a rise-from-the-ashes story but the author, Robert Penn Warren, manages to do it. The only interesting character is Stark, and if the story focused on him the work would have been better, but instead we get painfully long monologues about Burden and his pathetic love for a girl who has rejected him. There are no likeable character and no interesting subplots. The book is like an old man telling you a story that he can’t quite finish because he’s so wrapped up in irrelevant details, and many times I thought about quitting the book entirely. Less than fifty percent of the book is actual story while the rest is fluff that you have to endure. To give you an idea of what I mean, there were over 30 pages of Burden droning on about the love of his life who was getting boned by another guy.

Here is a Burden flashback (one of many) to a magical childhood moment:

I held her body to me and pressed her face back and our legs trailed down together as we rose slowly and waveringly through the blackness of the water and the silver of ascending bubbles. We rose very slowly, or at least it seemed very slowly, and I was holding my breath so long there was a pain in my chest and a whirling dizziness in my head, but the pain and the dizziness had passed the line over into a rapture like that I had had in my room the night I had first taken her to a movie and had stopped on the way home. I thought we would never reach the surface, we rose so slowly.

There’s more…

I saw her on Christmas, for ten days. It wasn’t like the summer. She told me she loved me and was going to marry me, and she let me go pretty far. But she wouldn’t marry me then, and she wouldn’t go the limit. We had a row about that just before she left. She had been willing to in September, but now she wouldn’t. It seemed that she was, in a way, breaking a promise, and so I got pretty mad. I told her she didn’t love me. She said she did. I wanted to know why she wouldn’t go on, then. “It’s not because I’m afraid and it’s not because I don’t love you. Oh, I do love you, Jackie, I do,” she said, “and it’s not because I’m a nasty old nicey-pants. It’s because you are the way you are, Jackie.”


But she wouldn’t say any more. So we had an awful row. I went back to State a nervous wreck. She didn’t write to me for a month. I held out about two weeks, and then began to apologize.

There was another painful flashback of another 40 pages when Burden researched a slave owner who became moral. This “symbolism” was linked to the present time and slapped across our face thereafter whenever Penn got the chance.

All The Kings Men is the type of book that would deeply impress a proletariat who only reads two books a year. They’ll labor through it for a month, and regardless if they liked it or not, will commend themselves that they read “literature” and were smarter for it, telling anyone who would listen about the feat they had just accomplished. They may be able to convince themselves of its quality since they are supposed to like it, but there’s no fooling me: this is a boring book, plain and simple.

Read More: “All The Kings Men” on Amazon

32 thoughts on “All The Kings Men”

    1. Yeah, those NY Times book reviewers better watch out because the Rooshter is in town now.

  1. The real life of Huey Long, whom the book was based on, is much more interesting. Long was a figure for which there’s no counterpart in contemporary American politics – a kind of reactionary Southern populist statist.

  2. Agreed. I read the book & was thoroughly unimpressed. Movie was even worse.

        1. “…are your from boy?”
          LOL. This faggot’s so mad he can’t use grammar.

  3. Dude, I’m surprised. You run this amazing blog, and the older one about game, and you forced yourself through that?
    I am even more surprised I learned from you that you read something that beta and mundane, then wrote about it.
    Do you have some sort of OCD complex or unwritten maxim that requires you to finish a book regardless how bad it sucks? You do a lot of writing.

    1. Well, I don’t mention the books I fail to finish. This book was a marginal call.

    2. I can understand Roosh wasting his time on this book. It was one of the canons of American literature, according to our betters in New York City’s literary circles.
      It shows cultural ambition to have completed it, or else slim pickings in the prison library….

  4. Roosh there is post over on A Voice For Men “Is Marriage Obselete?: Are Women?” I think you should contact the guy and ask to repost it over here. It has a real ROK voice about it. And it is a novel spin on the fem question “Are men obsolete”. He says rather that technology made women obsolete in the home. And men really no longer need them. Another friend of mine that read it thought it was a parody. But I think it is a valid ROK question.
    The final line is this:
    “You’re not needed in the house anymore, so get the fuck out.”

    1. Its true that the old gender roles have been eliminated on both sides. Women need men as providers less and men need women as homemakers less. However, there are still some people who *choose* these roles as a way to find traditional happiness. How the new happiness is found in the neutered roles is less clear. If a man does the cooking, the woman may wonder what she brings to the table. It can feel like a threat as much as a woman earning a six figure salary would to a man. At least men can comfort themselves they have only been replaces by other men (bosses, clients, etc.) whereas women have been replaced by machines.

      1. Very true, the future has an eery ring to it, and neither men or women like the uncertainty the loss of traditional marriage brings.
        Especially women, as they have never had to survive on their own, and they will soon no longer be able to cherry pick at the buffet of modernism and Victorian living. They will have to choose one buffet, and eat everything that is set before them.
        It is going to get comical.

      2. “whereas women have been replaced by machines.”
        Not entirely. Once female androids become very lifelike, and widely available, will women become obsolete. Once attention is withdrawn, will the edifice collapse.

    2. Hey, this is a blog on how to learn how to be a ladies man or pickup artist as they say today.

  5. When it comes to fiction books, it seems like a good rule is to stick with the classics. With nonfiction, there’s a lot more leeway.

    1. I’ve looked for decent contemporary fiction and been very unimpressed. The last decent general fiction book I read was “Spartina” about 1999.
      Most fiction writers want to create a world like they would want it to be – the progressive conceit. Few current fiction writers want to illuminate the real human condition for their readers.
      Fiction seems a dying, decadent art.

      1. And worse, the fiction is peopled with characters who are simultaneously boring and annoying. Dying and decadent, absolutely.

    2. Sir..please see my post above about “Wolf Hall ” by Hillary Mantel. Historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell….a total badass…

  6. I too read the book and agree completely with your review.
    This was a book that rose to prominence due to the New York liberals WANTING it to rise to prominence. By promoting this book, they looked down their noses at Southerners and took down a former competitor to FDR (dead by assassin by the 1949 publication) in hopes of preventing future Southern populists from upsetting Yankee hegemony. George Wallace was a decade+ later so the underlying political threat remained.
    Sorry, but only a political/culture viewpoint offers any reason to read the damn thing. It is tedious in the extreme – I was so glad when I was finished!
    I saw the remake of the movie – Sean Penn did a creditable job of playing the Kingfish (Stark) and I’m no fan of the actor.

  7. fuck you wroosh. pussy cunt. sene oyou r youtube vidieos. Gau y cunt. fucking neighbour wol’d 40 years old prefentding that the mattress wsa wirkd nown from fucking. gay cunt cut yoru hair. wog. ooh gibba get babbed biw,

  8. “Wolf Hall” and “Bringing up the Bodies” by Hillary Mantel are books 1 and 2 of a 3 part series on Thomas Cromwell King Henry the 8th’s Chancellor and political fixer. Thomas Cromwell came from nothing . A son of a blacksmith. A commoner who became the Lord Chancellor of King Henry the 8th. Was knighted but later beheaded by Henry the VIII . He rose by talent and merit alone. A man of the enlightenment. Thomas Cromwell definitely a red pill type a guy…. Read it Roosh…

  9. I had to read this in high school. With The Awakening. Thank you.
    This is why high school English classes are dominated by girls. I remember everyone saying their favorite book(s) – 50-75% of the class had a Jane Austen book listed. I said Fight Club or Atlas Shrugged. The teacher said (wrinkling her face), “Fight Club was a book?” I dropped to the advanced class and was much happier.

  10. Roosh, the implication of this book should not be underestimated. It really illustrates one of the biggest’s 20th c. blunders on a local, “American” level: The rise of Hitler. How even one of the “people” who rises to power on honest promises to “do things differently” ultimately gets shallowed and assimilated by power and corruption and how the people follow such leaders regardless. It remains one of the most important, least understood issues to date.

  11. “The only interesting character is Stark, and if the story focused on him the work would have been better,”
    Huh. I thought exactly the same of Game of Thrones.

    1. Ok, ok, I exaggerate. Plus Tyrion was actually the interesting one, but it didn’t fit the quote/joke.

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