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The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses / The Crossing / Cities of the Plain (The Border Trilogy #1-3)

4.43 of 5 stars 4.43  ·  rating details  ·  3,608 ratings  ·  235 reviews
Cormac McCarthy's monumental trilogy available in one beautifully presented volume

The Border Trilogy chronicles the coming-of-age of two young men in the south west of America.

John Grady Cole and Billy Parham, two cowboys of the old school, are poised on the edge of a world about to change forever. Their journeys across the border into Mexico, each an adventure fraught wit
Paperback, 1056 pages
Published August 3rd 2007 by Picador (first published 1994)
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I have this vague idea of going back and writing reviews of some of my favorite books, read long before I heard of Goodreads. And yet strangely, it’s somehow harder to write reviews of the books I love the best. I’m not sure why that is- maybe it’s because I feel SO MUCH for the books that are like old, beloved friends, that combing through all my weighty feelings and associations with them to find the right words is almost impossible. So there is my disclaimer that this will probably be a rambl ...more
It took me a while to get through this trilogy, since I took a break between the second and third book, but I'm so glad I finally finished it.

All the Pretty Horses was definitely the strongest and most even, in my opinion. McCarthy introduces his epic hero, John Grady Cole, and it's hard not to fall in love with him from the beginning.

The Crossing, which introduces the trilogy's second protagonist was my least favorite of the three. The narrative kept wandering into philosophical discussions for
I first read All The Pretty Horses camping on the beach in Sonora, Mexico. I had never read McCarthy before and it blew me away. The rhythm of the prose mimics the gait of a horse on an open range, the lyrical descriptions of the Southwestern landscape dead-on. Well-crafted (and often humorous) dialogue with a careful ear for cadence and dialect.

However upon subsequent readings, and further exploring the Trilogy, I became less enthralled and more conflicted. In The Crossing, the prose becomes mo
Katya Bogdanov
All the Pretty Horses
My first impression was that this book just wasn’t quite as immediately striking as The Road (one of my two favourite books of all time). That is to say, there were significant pros, but also some cons, which leads me to a “good,” rather than “great,” rating.

The undeniable and significant pro is that the world McCarthy recreates is captivating and leaves you with a lasting impression and an understanding of its reality. It is a world of men and horses, of grave injustice th
James Kane
When I finished Blood Meridian a couple of months ago I felt convinced that I had read Cormac McCarthy's most important book: the key to his oeuvre, the lynchpin of his thought, the vehicle for his profoundest reflections on life, death and what it means to be human. Now, I'm not so sure. Among McCarthy's many talents is his ability to give the reader the impression that each of his novels is just as deep as the last, if not deeper, no matter what order you read them in. In The Border Trilogy, M ...more
Jul 07, 2014 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: Nick Marcotte
Shelves: 1000-pgs, unfinished
Makes the run-on sentence beautiful.
One sentence (13 lines long), two commas:

"When the wind was in the north you could hear them, the horses and the breath of the horses and the horses' hooves that were shod in rawhide and the rattle of lances and the constant drag of the travois poles in the sand like the passing of some enormous serpent and the young boys naked on wild horses jaunty as circus riders and hazing wild horses before them and the dogs trotting with their tongues aloll and foot-slav
I love these books! I first read All the Pretty Horses in high school, and liked it so much I started reading his other books. These are my favorites of his, by far. I enjoy his writing style, and the southwest setting always makes me feel some sort of would be nice to have a lifestyle so free of possessions and responsibility, but then again, I do like the comforts of modern society. These books are all rather violent, but if you can get past it, you'll appreciate one of the gre ...more
All the Pretty Horses:

John Grady leaves Texas, knowing that his mother is selling the family ranch. Taking his friend Rawlins, they light out for Mexico, where trouble and passion are as much a part of the landscape as rock, dirt and horseflesh.

I don’t think there is a writer more suited to westerns; McCarthy’s dialogue is sparse and dry, yet shot with amusement and even affection. His descriptions are a panorama of vivid and moving immediacy, his narration is pragmatic and immersive, the action
Julie Laporte
I don't think I really could review these books separately, and I don't recommend reading them with large gaps of time in-between...just plowing straight through all three I think is the best way to go. McCarthy's complexity as a writer and philosopher really comes through in this trilogy, and I think some of the nuances and a lot of the enjoyment would be lost were you not to read them successively.

Having read (and loved) The Road, I was expecting to be drawn in immediately, and this wasn't the
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Things separate from their stories have no meaning.’

The first two novels in The Border Trilogy feature different protagonists and are set roughly a decade apart. Both protagonists: John Grady Cole, in ‘All the Pretty Horses’; and Billy Parham in ‘The Crossing’, are young cowboys and each travels between the US southwest into northern Mexico. The third novel, ‘Cities of the Plains’, opens in the early 1950s with Cole and Parham together at a ranch in New Mexico, just north of El Paso.

‘It was vaq
Very much enjoyed the trilogy as a whole. I went into it blind in terms of story, leaving me to believe after the second book that the three books together were linked in theme only. That was surprisingly, and enjoyably, false. A few thoughts on each book:

In All the Pretty Horses, the first novel of the trilogy, McCarthy laments the passage of time, the ways that life pulls the earth from under us. The novel concerns 16-year old John Grady Cole, and as he passes into adulthood, we mourn with him
Sep 10, 2010 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All who seek beauty and truth
Recommended to Matt by: Victoria
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"He knew that our enemies by contrast seem always with us. The greater our hatred the more persistent the memory of them so that a truly terrible enemy becomes deathless. So that the man who has done you great injury or injustice makes himself a guest in your house forever. Perhaps only forgiveness can dislodge him."

"When you look at the world is there a point in time when the seen becomes the remembered? How are they separate? It is that which we have no way to show. It is that which is missing
M. Ritchey
totally killer. McCarthy delves into a totally sad time period. You're still riding a horse, but everyone else is driving cars. You become an old man, a migrant worker your whole life, with a dwindling skill-set of dwindling importance in a world being modernized. In your youth you dragged a pregnant wolf all the way to Mexico because you didn't want to kill her, only to have her taken from you and die in a dogfight. "The Crossing" is the saddest book I have ever read. Rape and murder and vengea ...more
When it comes to a series, this might be the best I've ever dealt with. I love how the first two books have nothing to do with each other, but the last slowly brings them together. When Billy Parham has his last chapter in the final book it brings me to tears how he is basically a washed up nobody who at the same time is a link to the past, how he loves his deceased siblings so much a half century after he saw them. I pity Cormac McCarthy. I see a fraction into his mind when he writes and see he ...more
What can I add to over 3000 ratings and nearly as many reviews all adding to a high 4? I loved the format of The Crossing, called a picaresq style by the experts. It was very challenging of my expectations about what a novel should be. But it was totally engaging and full of thought provoking philosophy. Quite apart from the philosophical depths of Mr McCarthy, he tells a ripping story. The grande finale is the knife fight, complete with McCarthy gore and brilliant prose. Give me a poet who writ ...more
Zita De bourbon-parme
The title could have been "Never go to Mexico".
Nothing new about the dangers of traveling and the usual corruption, bad chance, blood, evil man that kills young boys and co scenario's. I feel exactly the same emotions when I watch the news.
I could adapt to his different writing style but not to his passion for suffering and crualty and I had the feeling that when he got ennoyed with one of his characters he just found a thrilling way to get them out of his book.

For me it was like driving for
Karl Arney
I really liked these books individually, but in that capacity there were things that kept me from absolutely flipping over them.

With All the Pretty Horses, I just wasn't that into John Grady Cole's character - a bit too good, too easily admirable. The book gave us two other significant characters so it's not just the "JGC is awesome" show, but he's so obviously the superior product to them that it's hard to fully rally behind them even if for contrarians like myself who couldn't fully get behin
I am seriously never inviting this guy McCarthy over for a dinner party...whatever goodness and light his characters find at one point in the story eventually is engulfed by pain and darkness. But I am never ceased to be amazed at the high-wire act he pulls off with his words...I ought to be throwing the book across the room in disgust at the arch and over-developed prose, but instead, I get lost in it. One of the best prose stylists I've ever read.
Michael Battaglia
Cowboy quest stories leavened with a heaping slice of existential despair embodied by the seeping knowledge that the way of life as you know it is disintegrating as you live it? Sign me up for the drive!

I don't get the sense that McCarthy wanted to write a cowboy story (or stories) as much as write a long dissertation on why there's no way to write a cowboy story anymore. Or at least why he's not going to write one. A lot of the elements are present, men in hats, guns, the windswept scenery, ban
Derry Davis
Wonderful stories about the American - Mexican frontier of the late 19 and early 20th century. Incredible depiction of the country and the souls who inhabited it. Be aware that Mr. McCarthy has a penchat of less than joyous endings.
che è bello, eh. bello e poetico e con un sacco di cavalli e di polvere e di sigarette e di sfiga e di pessimismo. scritto in texano che ti ci vogliono tipo 100 pagine per capire che of=have e che moren=more than.
poi tra le righe capisci che il tempo non esiste, che il luogo è talmente immenso da sembrare minuscolo, perché per quanto ti muova rimani sempre lì. che i pensieri e le intenzioni non contano niente, ci sono solo i fatti. fatti piccoli e scomposti in gesti, un pollice sulla tesa del ca
It feels a bit presumptuous to give three of the most well regarded books by one of the most celebrated modern writers a less than stellar review, but ultimately The Border Trilogy was a disappointment. McCarthy's idiosyncratic punctuation style comes across as an affectation in these novels, especially when combined with the Spanish dialogue. It seems like the intent is to create an intimidating illusion of profundity under the guise of inscrutability, and the philosophical tangents evoke more ...more
Michael Nutt

I came to McCarthy's celebrated Border Trilogy already a convert to the author's work. I rate 'No country for old men' among the best books I have read. I am less enthusiastic about 'The road', yet it is a powerful and unforgettable read.

'All the Pretty Horses" is the first volume in The Border Trilogy. The story opens in Texas shortly after World War 2, at a ranch near San Angelo where part of a traditional American way of life is coming to an end. It is 1949 and schoolboy John Grady Cole is at
Chris Evans
I don't pretend to understand what goes on throughout this book. I'm pretty sure that I don't understand what's happening on any given page. I mean, seriously, McCarthy could drop an atomic explosion out of nowhere and I'd have no idea that it's happening. (Seriously.)

But the beauty of McCarthy is that, despite dense prose and occasional diversions into untranslated Spanish for pages on end, you still come out the other side with a feeling that you wouldn't otherwise have. (Someone has said this
Sometimes difficult to get through, but such impeccable style and world-building. The kind of books that stay with you for a long while after you've finished them.

McCarthy's style is rugged, yet elegant in its simplicity-- and at the same time 'simplicity' doesn't seem to apply to his style at all. It's Hemingwayesque but much more elaborate. I was in awe of the words McCarthy chose and the sentences he strung with it, and the way he created these characters that at first didn't feel very specia
Patrick Faller
Difficult to put anything into words about these novels. I'll stay small, in hopes of suggesting the larger impact the books, especially The Crossing, had on me:

One of the greatest endings I've ever encountered in literature occurs in the second book, when, after returning from Mexico where he'd gone to find his brother and wound up burying him, then returning to do away with his parents' remains and their property, Billy Parham, alone and without purchase in a world on the brink of losing its
Finally finished this recently. Although Cormac McCarthy's style is refined in itself and can tire the reader out after reading it a while, I can sincerely say that I loved reading every page of this trilogy. Each book is very different in its inclusion of distinctive characters, and the story it tells. I feel that there is a definite love story in every book of the trilogy, in All The Pretty Horses it's John Grady Cole and the daughter of the hacienda owner, Alejandra; in The Crossing it could ...more
All the Pretty Horses
I'm going to read these three novels separately in a (probably vain) attempt to keep them separate in my mind. I liked All the Pretty Horses. I don't know if it's just because it's a Western and I'm trained to think 19th century, but the story seemed a little unstuck in time, even though it's explicitly set shortly after World War II. Certainly all the main characters are throwbacks. At one point John Grady says something to the effect that the only proper way for a man to m
Laura C. Robb
I wouldn't have chosen this on my own, but read the first one for book club. It was interesting enough that I wanted to read the other 2 to find out what happened. I will tell you that there are a few spots in the three books that are on the boring side just because they are so long. Persevere through them! I think it was worth it. Plus this will help refresh your western spanish. :) If you like a book about cowboys, you'll enjoy this series.

Favorite quotes:

"He said that those who have endured s
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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...
The Road No Country for Old Men Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1) The Crossing (The Border Trilogy, #2)

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