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Publisher's Summary

Robert Penn Warren, America's first Poet Laureate, penned one of the most widely read works in American literature with the Pulitzer Prize-winning All the King's Men. An unrivaled novel of American politics, Warren's masterpiece is a classic tale every bit as relevant today as it was upon its release more than 50 years ago.

The fictionalized account of Louisiana's colorful and notorious governor, Huey Pierce Long, All the King's Men follows the startling rise and fall of Willie Stark, a country lawyer in the Deep South of the 1930s. Beset by political enemies, Stark seeks aid from his right-hand man, Jack Burden, who will bear witness to the cataclysmic unfolding of this very American tragedy.

©1946 Robert Penn Warren; 1974 Robert Penn Warren (P)2005 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Literary Fiction, 2007

"The definitive novel about American politics." (The New York Times)
"Mr. Warren has employed vivid characterization and strong language combined with subtle overtones to write a vital, compelling narrative." (Booklist)
"Michael Emerson's performance brings the characters to life with verve and personality....Through a mix of understatement and intensity, Emerson clearly conveys the political turmoil underlying the book; his performance perfectly complements the story, which is as timely as it was 60 years ago....Emerson's reading does justice to a great work." (AudioFile)

Featured Article: Celebrate Award Season 2022 with Page-to-Screen Nominees and Listening Recs Based on Your Frontrunners


And now, it's time to honor and celebrate the achievements of the artists who brought these treasures to the big screen. No matter who you're rooting for when the ceremony begins, these listens are all worthy of a golden statuette in our books. Here are the audiobooks that directly inspired the nominees and a few others to check out based on your own personal frontrunners.

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What listeners say about All the King's Men

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    1,429
  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    1,139
  • 4 Stars
    375
  • 3 Stars
    128
  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
    26

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully presented

This is a wonderfully moving, insightful presentation of the novel, treating the characters with tenderness as they are being torn apart. That said - this is not an audiobook for the casual listener, the novel demands attention. If you are like me, and listen to audiobooks while walking on busy streets, relying on an author to dwell on important plot points long enough for you to hear them eventually (think Tolstoy), you will find yourself rewinding All The King's Men a lot.

45 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

people & politics

a classic exploration of the complexities of personality, power, character, good and evil. the writing is sublime and the narration is wonderful. i found myself stopping the play just to think about the implications of the author's observations on characters and events. it is a novel of it's time and uses the vernacular of its time. that, too, is something to ponder and to assess for ourselves how much we believe that we as individuals or society have changed.
very thought provoking. i know i will come back to listen to this again.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Read this even if you didn't like the Movie

I had put off reading this book for years because I had seen the old movie many years ago. The movie was not bad, but did not inspire me to read the book. Nevertheless this was on the Modern Library top 100 list I have been going through so I gave it a listen. The book is a true classic and the movie does not do it justice, Subtle and moving with a very different emotional outlook. The prose are outstanding and the story is engaging, both real and allegorical.

This is a great book for the age of Trump. The story tells of a population sickened by a corrupt political system turning to a strongman populist willing to do whatever it takes to get things done.

This is a great book worth reading and re-reading. The narration is spectacular, expressing the inner states of the narrator as the novel progresses. There have been quite a few great reads on the Modern Library list, and this is one of the best so far.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

My standard of excellence

This is, to date (Dec 2010), the finest book Ito which I have listened. Every award, every compliment, every praise that Warren accumulated for All The King's Men is deserved. To say that Michael Emerson is up to this work is to say that his interpretive performance is stunning. The tale is timeless and the masterpiece taken as a whole will haunt a listener who is sufficiently mature to value the entirety of its nuance. Every other book I hear will be judged against All The King's Men.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding

This is an outstanding reading of a great piece of literature. I can't add to 60 years of literary reviews praising this Pulitzer winning classic, but I can compliment Michael Emerson's reading of it. Mr. Emerson's reading is a perfect fit for what is unquestionably a great work of American Literature. His pacing, intonation, and articulation of Warren’s beautiful use of our language enhance the experience of this excellent book.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

It ain't that simple

I find it really difficult to characterize this book because it is so complex and textured, probing the ever present ambiguities of good and evil in our motivations and actions and rejecting all the simplistic drivel which allows us to choose sides so easily both in politics and in life. Penn Warren makes it clear that nothing is that simple, though it may not make much difference since our hearts usually drive us to make our choices and live with them and perhaps justify them later.

While I recognize that this is a brilliant book, I gave the story four stars because I actually found the first person, central character's struggle a little tiresome by the end. I think I might have tolerated it somewhat better if I were still thirty seven. On the other hand, watching through his eyes as Willie Stark/Huey P. Long carries all before him toward his inevitable destiny is fascinating and completely absorbing. He comes across as an American original and anything but simple.

As noted by most other reviewers, Michael Emerson's rendering of the book is brilliant throughout. One of the really great audible book performances I have heard.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful Prose

Every now and then you happen upon a book that makes you just stop and listen. This is it. The prose is beautiful. It is not an "action" book it is a book to savour. If I could only ever listen to one book this would be it

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Marvelously written and read

This is a great novel. You probably already know that. What you may not know is that this audiobook production is top-notch. The narrator is spot on, capturing the poetry of the writing and the tone of the south. Just a fantastic package of writing and narration.

Highly recommended.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

How Does One Review a Classic? Its a Classic!

This is a story told on many many levels. First, it is the story of the rise and fall of Willy Stark - country bumkin turned political king pin. Then it is the story of Jack Burden who is carrying a "burden" of sorts.

The story is told in retrospect from a Jack Burden that is at peace with his life but this has not always been the case. I think that in Jack's younger days he struggled to know the truth about things, as if by knowing the truth he could control the world or at least understand it better. He digs up a lot of knowledge but all this knowledge becomes too much for Jack, and he checks out. He becomes detached and drinks to escape. Its as if he's had enough of the world and feels that maybe the way to cope is not by finding truth but by not participating in life. The cruel joke is that by not participating, Jack is participating in some way. Nobody can escape the world and the world is often not pretty. In the end when all is laid bare, when people and empires are destroyed, Jack finally comes to terms with the world and his place in it.

I am trying to encapsulate a huge masterpiece into a tiny review, so I am not giving this story the justice it deserves. It is a Faustian tale that has become one of my favorites. I think that Warren is a great southern writer.

I enjoyed this audio performance - the narrator is excellent here.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

I expected politics, but got life intead

No wonder this book is on every "Best Books of the 20th Century" list you see. It's brilliant. I knew it was based loosely on Huey Long, so I expected politics. What I didn't expect was the shift about a third of the way into the book into life: love, loss, betrayal, disappointment, loyalty and more. I can't say more than the thousands of reviews already say. It's beautifully written and the narration suits it perfectly.

21 people found this helpful