Statewide Reading Project Engages Public with All the King's Men

Sep 20, 2018

Robert Penn Warren's groundbreaking novel of politics, power, and corruption, All the King's Men, is the centerpiece of public discussions around the state as part of a joint project between Kentucky Humanities and University Press of Kentucky. Constance Alexander and Dr. Drew Thompson visit Sounds Good to discuss the Paducah discussion and the upcoming Murray event.

Kentucky Reads: All the King's Men is part of the "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" Initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The purpose is to deepen the public's knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. According to Bill Goodman, executive director of Kentucky Humanities, "Politics is one of Americans' favorite pastimes, regardless of who's in office. In recent years, with the rise of populist movements, the advent of 'fake news,' and debate on how the news and social media influence voters, there is renewed interest in the themes that Warren explored in All the King's Men."

Published to wide acclaim over seventy years ago, All the King's Men remains relevant today. A cautionary tale, it provides insights into the machinations and motivations that drive the American political system, and sparks conversations on contemporary populism, political discourse, and their relationship to journalism. On top of being a cautionary tale, Dr. Drew Thompson also describes the novel as an "insight to late democracy, [and the idea of] balancing our ideals with the [urgency] of getting the things we need." The moderator of the local discussions and award-winning columnist and consultant, Ms. Constance Alexander, says that these events' main purpose is to bring people together: "Instead of looking at each other and pointing fingers, we start with a work of literature."

With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Kentucky Humanities is hosting a series of community discussions statewide. In western Kentucky, Ms.  Alexander has been facilitating multiple gatherings in Calloway, Graves, McCracken, and Fulton Counties and also at Western Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah. 

The Kentucky Reads series will visit Murray, KY, this Monday, September 24th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Calloway County Public Library. For more information about the Murray event, contact Mrs. Sandy Linn, Community Relations Coordinator, at 270-753-2288, Ext. 111. The September 24th gathering is free and participants do not have to have read or finished the book to attend. However, as part of this initiative, Kentucky Humanities has provided multiple copies of the book for lending, available at the Calloway County library circulation desk.