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January's Book
All the King’s Men
by Robert Penn Warren
These book cover notes are from the 1996 50th-anniversary edition.

When All the King’s Men was first published in 1946, Sinclair Lewis pronounced it “massive, impressive ... one of our few national galleries of character.” Diana Trilling, reviewing it for The Nation, wrote, “For sheer virtuosity, for the sustained drive of its prose, for the speed and the evenness of its pacing, for its precision of language ... I doubt indeed whether it can be matched in American fiction.” The Washington Post declared, “If the game of naming the Great American Novel is still being played anywhere, Warren’s All the King’s Men would easily make the final rounds.”

Set in the ’30s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie Stark, a fictional character who resembles the real-life Huey “Kingfish” Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success and caught between dreams of service and an insatiable lust for power. The model for 1996’s best-selling political novel, Primary Colors, and as relevant today as it was fifty years ago, All the King’s Men is one of the classics of American literature.


“The finest American novel in more years than one would like to have to remember.”
New Republic

“Brilliantly done.”
New York Times Book Review


Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), the country’s first Poet Laureate, was “a man of letters on the old-fashioned, outsize scale” (New York Times Book Review), winning three Pulitzer Prizes and virtually every other major award given to U.S. writers. Joseph Blotner, who wrote the foreword to this fiftieth anniversary edition, is the author of the first full-scale biography of Warren.

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