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All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy #1)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  59,357 ratings  ·  4,038 reviews
The national bestseller and the first volume in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself.With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place wh ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published June 29th 1993 by Vintage (first published 1992)
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Stephanie I am no expert on "Westerns" or Western genres but this seems to be early American western area life... where there were ranches and some poverty.…moreI am no expert on "Westerns" or Western genres but this seems to be early American western area life... where there were ranches and some poverty. Horses were the way to get around and you could set out with your horse and leave your life behind you.. (less)
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Best Books of the 20th Century
309th out of 6,355 books — 42,895 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
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5th out of 698 books — 939 voters

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Steve Sckenda
Aug 10, 2015 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The Ardent-Hearted
“The coward abandons himself first. After this all other betrayals came easily.” John Grady Cole is displaced. In 1949, his grandfather dies, and his West Texas ranch passes to a young widow. So teenage John Grady and his friend, Rawlins, set out on horseback to Mexico.

John Grady dreams of horses. He loves in them what he loved in men, “the blood and the heat of the blood that ran them. All his reverence and all his fondness and all the leanings of his life were for the ardent hearted and he wo
All the Pretty Horses isn’t quite as grim as other Cormac McCarthy work that I’ve read but considering that this includes The Road, Blood Meridian, No Country For Old Men and watching the HBO adaptation of his play The Sunset Limited, it's still so bleak that your average person will be depressed enough to be checked into a mental ward and put on suicide watch after finishing it.

John Grady Cole is a sixteen year old cowboy in Texas a few years after World War II who was raised on his grandfather
I seldom abandon books after reading just a couple of pages, but in this case I had no choice. Two pages into the book I was so annoyed by McCarthy's random use of apostrophes and near-total lack of commas that I felt I had better stop reading to prevent an aneurysm. I'm sure McCarthy is a great storyteller, but unless someone convinces me he has found a competent proof-reader who is not afraid to add some four thousand commas to each of his books, I'll never read another line he's written. I ca ...more
Jason Koivu
This western of new antiquity flows with a horse's grace and bursts into furious and powerful charges. McCarthy's pen grazes upon lush words. His verbs gallop, his adjectives whinny and snort. There is a subdued, wild loneliness. The populous within the pages wander like herds or rally in a tense, motionless pack ready to pounce, while mere boys -more man than most- wander through them ready for love, ready for death.

These characters breath and sweat and bleed. The reader comes to know the true
Dec 09, 2009 Bram rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Despite my great love for The Road, I’d argue that my enjoyment of All the Pretty Horses was far from predetermined. To begin with, I’ve recently been made aware (in discussions with fellow Goodreaders) that I’ve never seen a single Clint Eastwood movie or even a non-Clint Eastwood Western. And although I grew up in the South (sort of), I’m now an East Coast city guy who’s never even gone camping if you don’t count that college freshman orientation trip. Not only do I know jack-shit about horses ...more
Jun 24, 2007 yana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to yana by: ms. sinkler
i boycotted this book for years because of the title... it sounded too girly, and i had no desire to read a book about horses, much less pretty ones. this was despite the fact that it had been first strongly recommended to me by an amazing high school english teacher who always had impeccable tastes in literature. man did i have no idea what i was missing due to my snobbish snubbery. luckily my dear friends janae and kristine mailed me a copy while i was living in Poland, in a giant birthday box ...more
By all accounts, I shouldn't like Cormac McCarthy's novels. I have little patience for stylized prose. Violent imagery sends me over the edge. Books set in the American West or South are not my first—or even fourth—choice, as a general rule.

But I'm helpless under McCarthy's pen.

All the Pretty Horses is McCarthy's most accessible novel and I'm glad I didn't start here, because anything which followed would have been an horrific shock. In contrast to his other works that seem to roll out in fugu
McCarthy pares his descriptions down to the purest bones, and then, as if all that surrounded it was the shrapnel of a shattering revelation, lays down a jaw-droppingly astonishing sentence that sums up good, evil, man, God, love.

The best and worst in men are inseparable in McCarthy's worlds, which are so exactly imagined as to be indisputable.

John Grady Cole is one of the most memorable heros in contemporary literature.

This one makes me want to ride out across the dust.
Patrick Reinken
I gave some thought to doing a “two-sentences-and-one-word” review of Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses – winner of the National Book Award – but I decided not to. Don’t get me wrong, it could be done that way. It’s just that I didn’t think I could do it justice that way.

The reason for that isn’t the characters. They are few, and they are finely drawn.

It’s also not the story. That’s stripped down to some classic essentials.

In 1949, following the death of his cattle rancher grandfather, and
Paul Bryant
A large auditorium. The audience is abuzz with low-quality hysteria. Who’s up next? A glowering old man stands on the vast stage. He’s got a guitar and one of those neck-brace harmonica things and he looks mortally offended. He always looks like that though.

Simon: And what’s your name?

Man : Cormac McCarthy.

Simon : Where are you from?

CM : Rhode Island.

LA Reid : Would you say you had a philosophy of life?

CM : There's no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can
Libby Cone
A young hired hand is warned against getting close to the beautiful, haughty daughter of his ranchowner employer, but her haunting beauty zzzzzzzzzz.........
I’ve been sitting on this book review for weeks, needing to chew so many things over before I put it into words. I started the book and finished it and started it again, because it was the only thing I knew to do. It’s wrecked me, a little. Pushed things knotted up deep down inside to the surface, like coming up from under a waterfall for air. There’s something visceral here, not just in the story itself but in the reading of it, more akin to eating and breathing than turning pages of a book. It ...more
Dec 30, 2010 Caris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
I’ve got something of an irrational fear of Mexico. I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in Arizona, that seemingly inconspicuous country is always breathing down my neck.

When I was a kid, my family went to Mexico several times. The first time, we went to Tijuana, the notoriously nasty border town. After spending a couple of hours there, we left to go back to California. There was a guard at the border asking everyone his/her country of origin. It was kind of a silly question to a
Do you have a sub-clinical fear of commas and, especially, quotation marks? Then Cormac McCarthy's your author and All the Pretty Horses is the book for you! There's not a quotation mark in 302 pages and very few commas. It's an interesting and stylized type of writing, and McCarthy uses it in some of his other books. Here's a typical sentence:
He dismounted and unrolled his plunder and opened the box of shells and put half of them in his pocket and checked the pistol that it was loaded all six
Tudo o que eu possa dizer ficará sempre aquém do que verdadeiramente sinto por Belos Cavalos e por Cormac McCarthy.
Por isso, vou limitar-me a roubar, para aqui, as belas palavras do Luis Miguel:
e as do João Carlos:
Leiam-nas e leiam este livro, ou qualquer outro deste homem...
Eu vou, de seguida, fazer A Travessia...

"Ele chegou os calcanhares ao cavalo e rompeu adiante. Cavalgou com o sol a acobrear-lhe o rosto e o

Cormac McCarthy must have been abused as a child. Abused in such a despicable way that all these years later he is still suffering deep down. The abuser – “The Apostrophe”.


I can’t think of any other valid reason for this style of writing. The apostrophe is a great friend of mine; I use it all the time on a day to day basis. Sometimes I even throw them in sentences where they don’t belong! Obviously Cormac doesn’t believe in using them and he just plumps for adding in “and” every now and th
Daniel Villines
Second Review: April 2012

The first time through this book I was keenly aware of the realism that’s reflected in my first review. This second reading, however, allowed the beauty of that realism to shine through. To me, it is what it is is a good thing because there is no other option. However, there’s also a fundamental elegance to whatever it happens to be and it’s through that elegance that I find peace, wisdom, and composure.


Fisrt Review: August 2011

To those that would say McCarthy is a da
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 2* of five

The Publisher Says: The national bestseller and the first volume in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

My Rev
“A goodlookin horse is like a goodlookin woman, he said. They're always more trouble than what they're worth. What a man needs is just one that will get the job done.”

Okay, so this has many of the qualities I enjoy in a book, a well-developed sense of time and place, complex characters/situations, a sense of loss for unfulfilled desires, and several quote-worthy passages.

Very atmospheric, which can be a plus if that's the kind of thing you enjoy or dense and distracting if not. I happen to en

I've been lucky to read some gorgeous writing this year, laced with nostalgic dreamers, hunters, men seeing to the end of things. But here is something different, a novel that is to the core uplifting, hopeful and young. I became so invested in the spirit of the story that I really just miss it.
It has a drumming heart and more than enough wisdom. The kinship between man and horse is described with mythical kindness. It has the visceral clout you would expect from the author, along with the poe
Nov 28, 2007 Dustin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who don't mind bad writing
I want to like Cormac McCarthy. But he bugs me. What bugs me about him is the sentiment many of his readers have that goes basically: "I was worried this was going to be a Louis L'Amour western but was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't." Well, people, it IS a western, but McCarthy is too pretentious to just write a western. He lifts out all the punctuation, drops in verbose descriptions and senseless figurative language and some faux-philosophical musings on horses and calls it "literature".

Larry Bassett
Every page has at least one paragraph that is picture perfect. There are sentences that are art of the finest quality. How could a screenwriter or a director convert a Cormac McCarthy novel into a movie that does it justice? How can a reader simply move on to the next page?
There was an old horseskull in the brush and he squatted and picked it up and turned it in his hands. Frail and brittle. Bleached paper white. He squatted in the long light holding it , the comicbook teeth loose in their sock

To be honest I am not a major fan of Cormac McCarthy. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way I'll explain why I read this anyway. Firstly because it is on the 1001 books to read list, secondly because it is loved by so many other readers and thirdly because I still have hope that there is a Cormac McCarthy I will like. However this book ended up being a novel I neither completely liked or disliked. I was indifferent in that regard to the book.

I do not particularly care for McCarthy's stylisti
All the Pretty Horses captures true romanticism unlike any other book I've read. McCarthy's descriptions of the land the boys travel through is captivating. His descriptions of the horses, the work done with the horses, immerse the reader. His writing shows so much in such simple ways and I found myself mesmerized by this book. I've tried before to express how I feel when I read anything by McCarthy but I am still unable to adequately convey my feelings. His prose is so smooth and measured, calc ...more
Eric Kibler
I am now officially a member of the Church of Cormac McCarthy, just as I am of the Churches of Steinbeck, of Atwood, of Twain, of Nabokov. Writers who for me can do no wrong.

In this book we meet John Grady Cole, a cowboy of sixteen years. In 1949, his mother has sold off the family ranch, leaving John Grady to his own devices. He sets off from Texas to Mexico with his friend Rawlins, riding their horses through the now fenced and parceled land, carefully dismantling and reattaching fencing as th
Lee Thompson
Vivid and engrossing. I'm certain there will be many parts of this story that will stick with me for years. Really looking for to Book 2 of the Border Trilogy.
Carac Allison
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chiara Pagliochini
« Perciò pensava ai cavalli che erano sempre il pensiero migliore. »

Ognuno di noi ha – o dovrebbe avere – un pensiero migliore. Quel pensiero-guida che resta come un perno, come l’occhio del ciclone, fisso nelle difficoltà. Quell’idea che ci è dato di contemplare pure dal fondo di un pozzo: il fioco raggio di sole che filtra dall’alto. Il pensiero che ci salva sempre. Da noi stessi, da tutto il resto.
Per John Grady Cole questo pensiero sono i cavalli:

« Quella notte sognò i cavalli che correvano
Painfully beautiful. The signature McCarthy horror and violence but it's (most of the time) quieter than in Blood Meridian, and surely by know you know that The Road is just different than the rest, I mean, it's great, but it's different. And there's some love and lust in this one (can't get the image of her biting his hand to keep quiet, drawing blood, out of my head), too, although you know from the first moment that it's going to end badly. If you've yet to read McCarthy, All the Pretty Horse ...more
Starting to think that I really like McCarthy. I didn't really know what I was getting into with this one. First of all, the title is all full of wuss. However, I was pretty sure that it wasn't going to be a girly horse story like the title implies. I was not incorrect. This is a gritty western adventure full of manliness and blood and bullet wounds and knife wounds and other miscellaneous wounds. All in all, very good. I'm leaning a bit towards a 5 star rating.
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Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels in the Southern Gothic, western, and post-apocalyptic genres and has also written plays and screenplays. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for The Road, and his 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted as a 2007 film of the same name, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

His earlier Blood M
More about Cormac McCarthy...

Other Books in the Series

The Border Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Crossing (The Border Trilogy, #2)
  • Cities of the Plain (The Border Trilogy, #3)

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“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” 1626 likes
“Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.” 379 likes
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