One Book, One Bakersfield is a community organization and citywide book club that promotes reading, discussion of great literature, and community interaction. Supported by grants and donations from local organizations, businesses, and individuals, One Book sponsors book discussions, panel discussions, dramatic readings, and other events related to the book selected. Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, All The King’s Men (1946), served as 2007’s book.
Through narrator Jack Burden, the book tells the story of Willie Stark, a southerner who rises to become governor of his state by appealing to the disaffected masses, using blackmail, and engaging in political corruption. Stark, who comes to rule his state as a virtual dictator, is assassinated as he prepares a bid for the United States Senate.
Stark is roughly modeled on real life populist politician Huey Long, who served as governor of Louisiana before being elected to the United States Senate in 1930. Long was assassinated in Baton Rouge in 1935.
Professor Rodriquez contributed to this year’s One Book, One Bakersfield program by writing an essay on Huey Long. The piece appeared in the Bakersfield Californian on February 11, 2007, to help promote the One Book discussions and events that were scheduled in February and March. In addition, Professor Rodriquez served on a panel co-sponsored by the Kegley Institute of Ethics, which dealt with the book and the larger related issues of politics and ethics. Finally, Professor Rodriquez delivered a presentation and facilitated discussion on Huey Long and Warren’s Willie Stark at Russo’s Books.
For more information on the One Book, One Bakersfield program and on past books that have been featured in discussions, see http://www.1b1b.com.