Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Five best books on scandals, real or made-up

H. W. Brands's latest book is The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield.

At the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books on truth or just in print.

One title on the list:
All the King's Men
by Robert Penn Warren (1946)

Inspired by the rise and fall of Huey Long, the populist demagogue from Louisiana, Robert Penn Warren's roman à clef is arguably the greatest of American political novels. Willie Stark begins his career honestly but is corrupted by ambition and power. He sells offices, shakes down government contractors and sleeps with women not his wife—including the sister of one of Stark's appointees, who discovers the affair and kills him. Jack Burden, Stark's political fixer, retrospectively narrates the story, which reveals his own disillusionment. The novel was a brilliant popular success and won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for fiction; the 1949 film version received the Academy Award for best picture. "All the King's Men" remained a powerful literary influence a half-century later: Joe Klein modeled "Primary Colors" (1996) on the novel to explain the scandalous and self-destructive charm of Bill Clinton.
Read about the other entries on the list.

One critic argues that while it's not the best Louisiana novel, All the King's Men is The Great Louisiana Novel. The book appears on Melanie Kirkpatrick's list of her five favorite novels of political intrigue; Robert McCrum called it a book to inspire busy public figures.

--Marshal Zeringue