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All the King's Men Hardcover – 2005
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Still, whether you tend towards the Long/Stark end of the spectrum or that of Judge Irwin, through his narrator, Jack Burden, Warren is able to create characters who command varying degrees of sympathy...including Jack himself. But it's the humanity of them all that is likely most important to Warren and he lets the reader sympathize while still seeing the often grievous imperfections.
Warren also owes a fair debt to William Faulkner, whose influence sometimes appears in the form of longish sentences linked by repetitive articles as Jack delves into his own mind or describes the towns and people he sees. Warren's focus on capturing a particular aspect of any given scene, like describing a woman Jack sees in a mere instant while driving through a town, reveals Warren's poetic bent. While showing you a movie, he likes to describe corners of scenes and things outside the frame.
When I was purchasing this, I had no idea what I was in for. I thought I was getting a picture book of Humpty Dumpty, the ill-fated egg who has the proverbial great fall. You might recall that in this classic nursery rhyme, "All the King's Horses and All the King's Men" couldn't put poor Humpty together again.
Imagine my disappointment at finding myself staring down the barrel of a SEVERAL HUNDRED page book with TINY LETTERS comprising QUITE LARGE words. My first instinct was to do with this book what's been done with most of the books that my obnoxious literary-inclined family members have forced upon me and add it to "the pile." (I keep a pile of books in a basket near my front door to throw at squirrels who raid my bird feeder.)
However, not long after I did so, I found myself bored one night while maintaining my bird-feed vigil and decided to crack open this book. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found that this story, while much longer and more intellectually demanding than the original "Humpty Dumpty" story, added much to the Humpty Dumpty conversation with its tale of populist fascism in the American political machine.
Although it took me several years to finish, I'd recommend this book to anyone-- I'd even go so far to say it is equal to, if not superior than, the original. Five stars.