All the King's Men is a political thriller and a powerfully symbolic tale about action, consequence, and political cynicism. Jack Burden, strong right arm of populist politician Willie Stark, whose nature as a cynical manipulator of the masses emerges over the course of the story until his career is cut short by assassination. The story deals heavily with a worldview Stark calls The Great Twitch, a nihilistic theory that all action is meaningless because human biology dictates behavior.

Summary of All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

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All the King's Men Chapter Summaries (Free)

1SparkNotes

Review: The most popular website for book notes. SparkNotes was created by students for students, and their summaries are accessible and extremely well-written. Besides the usual plot overview, chapter summaries, and character analysis, SparkNotes differentiates itself with a section discussing themes, motifs, and symbols.

2Pink Monkey

Review: Their chapter summaries aren't as good as other providers, but PinkMonkey often has interesting insights that aren't mentioned elsewhere on the Internet. For example, they go over literary elements (like setting, conflict, and mood), compare and contrast, and symbolism/motifs. It's a good site if you want to find a unique fact or angle that other students don't know about.

3Barron's Book Notes

Review: Barron's Book Notes is a trusted brand that excels in its literary analysis of elements like setting, themes, style, point of view, form, and structure, as well as its sample quizzes. They also have the requisite book summary and chapter breakdown. But beware the pop-up ads and outdated web design!

4GradeSaver

Review: You won't get any frills with GradeSaver -- just the content you expect. Their study guides include a full plot summary, themes and character analysis, study questions, and the e-text of the book. One hidden gem is their collection of literature essays, but you'll have to pay for it.