It was one of Hunter S Thompson’s favourites so, after buying and carting it from Glasgow, I finally got around to sinking into All The King’s Men. According to the New York Times blurb on the back it is: “The definitive novel about American politics.” Which is on par with saying Macbeth is the definitive play about Scottish politics, and therefore not entirely inaccurate. All The King’s Men has a distinctly Shakespearean sweep and stride, with its fine language and inexorable tragedies. Warren conjures a world always just beyond the control of its occupants:
The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can’t know. He can’t know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can’t know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn’t got and which, if he had it, would save him.