All the King's Men is a book about the rise and fall of Willie Stark, a governor from a state in the South. It is told as a narrative through Jack Burden, an employee and friend of Stark's from his first bid to become governor up until his assassination. The book involves us with Burden's personal life as another layer, how he grows and comes to know what his purpose and direction in life are.
The book starts off with Governor Stark and his group visiting a small town in their state. It then flashes back to before Stark ever thought of running for Governor, even before he began to toy with the idea of politics. Through an accident in his home town, Stark gains statewide recognition and is eventually asked to run for governor. What he doesn't know is that he is being used to split the vote for one of the other candidates. He finds out soon enough, though, and pulls himself out of the race, but campaigns for the candidate he was to take votes away from. He gains popularity and is elected governor the next time around.
Now the other main character, Jack Burden, comes into the story. He is a reporter and assigned to cover Stark and his campaign. He winds up becoming an aide to Stark and helping him in his "dirty work," persuasion and bribery, mostly. One of these jobs was to dig up some dirt on Judge Irwin, a man who had been like a father to Burden when he was growing up. Burden thinks that there is nothing to find, but is surprised when he finds that Irwin was involved in a scandal. This scandal also involved a former governor, who happens to be the father of two of Burden's closest childhood friends, Adam and Anne Stanton.
Burden tries to keep the scandal hidden, but Stark makes him use it to convince Adam Stanton to take the lead job at Stark's free hospital. This hospital is Stark's way of making at least one place free of politics. Stark's son messes that up, however, by possibly being the father of an illegitimate child.