After reading Borges’ marvelous and amazing collection of his life’s work of fiction, this conclusion comes to mind: whether there is something (a godAfter reading Borges’ marvelous and amazing collection of his life’s work of fiction, this conclusion comes to mind: whether there is something (a god, a spirit, a force) behind the mystery of human thought. Is there an original cause, a source? A Dreamer who dreams us? Or a merely a dreamer who dreams our dreams? For Borges, his ideas come across as godly in their scope. He is the quintessential artist who can forge out of life a complex maze of ideas that are beyond complete understanding. His stories startle, shock, and leave readers entirely perplexed and fascinated. To read Borges is to enter a realm where no clear truth or graspable explanation is possible for approaching the multitude of forces that govern the universe. Any reader who takes the challenge of reading Borges enters a world of the author's imagination that will alter and expand your perspective and have you asking everyone you know whether he or she has ever read Borges. His work is powerful, mesmerizing, and hypnotic. He is the literary grandfather of all modern Hispanic writers. Borges’ genius and breadth of knowledge is unmatched, and his contribution to literature cannot be underestimated. Andrew Hurley’s magnificent translation of this definitive collection of Borges’ fiction reaffirms Borges’ place in the literary canon....more
The knowledge Borges brings to his non-fiction writings draws upon sources vast and obscure. His scope makes parallels between the ancient past and drThe knowledge Borges brings to his non-fiction writings draws upon sources vast and obscure. His scope makes parallels between the ancient past and dreams of the future. He charts such subjects as the histories of angels, dreams, archetypes, languages, and ideas, among many epistemological topics. He presents coincidence and irony as governed by forces beyond the human sphere, yet Borges rejects transcendent order. He chooses instead to be captivated with the human origin of immortality. He deciphers the needs of the human mind in a way that reveals how every act and thought is a result of the human will to control things. In essence, his essays journey to the marrow of his own thinking. He presents the idea that illusion is reality, that the obverse of something is equally true. The writings want to affirm how feelings are concrete and how art is representative of reality. Borges’ depth of imagination is nothing short of trying to encompass the cosmos as he attempts to give meaning and significance to life’s gamut of mysteries. He makes readers consider the fascination of dreams. He sees life as an act of something greater than we can know. For Borges, the infinite and the idea of immortality are a product of memory, of passing something on, of leaving something behind. And to him the human mind is more numinous than anything we can possibly fathom. His visions and beliefs have survived with great renown, and his non-fiction writings capture the complexity of his thinking....more
The great appeal of Thoreau is that he sacrificed himself to nature and experimented the type of life that his mentor Emerson espoused in the TranscenThe great appeal of Thoreau is that he sacrificed himself to nature and experimented the type of life that his mentor Emerson espoused in the Transcendentalist philosophy of reaching for a higher calling. Thoreau's dismissal of materialism, his commitment to meditating over the human condition, his reverence for knowledge in the natural world, his appreciation for the order of things, his quest to find God--all of Thoreau's theories touch my heart. Walden is full of wonderful passages about following dreams, living life to its fullest, and never allowing yourself to feel lost if you haven't yet found your path in the world. Walden reads both like a collection of data from a natural scientist witnessing and observing the world in all its beauty and intricacy, and as a profound personal testament from a philosopher reflecting upon and seeking answers to life's most ineffable mysteries. What is happiness? How do we find peace? Why do we suffer? Thoreau yearns for answers to life's aching questions. His sojourn on Walden Pond resulted in a contemplative piece of literature that has withstood time with its manifold ways to inspire. Each time I reread certain passages from this book, I'm reminded why Thoreau continues to remain so admired and important in the modern world. He forces us back to the soil, to an assessment of our own life, in our quest to see life clearly as a gift that should not be squandered....more
Originally published in 1945, this classic autobiographical fiction stands as one of the quintessential and revelatory works about a young black man’sOriginally published in 1945, this classic autobiographical fiction stands as one of the quintessential and revelatory works about a young black man’s coming-of-age. The book captures the lifestyle of the Southern experience for Blacks in all its brutality, tension, and unrest while charting the youthful Wright’s willful and defiant personality to break free of societal injustices. The book’s suspenseful, insightful totality of engrossing anecdotes serves as a stimulating, thought-provoking, and fluidly-moving prose work that encompasses a first-hand account of the African American experience in the South prior to World War II....more
With this comprehensive biography of Washington, Chernow has taken precedence as the foremost authority of chronicling the life of our nation’s firstWith this comprehensive biography of Washington, Chernow has taken precedence as the foremost authority of chronicling the life of our nation’s first president. He provides incredible details and insight that, at times, made the narrative read like fiction. He presents Washington as a man of commitment, sacrifice, and discipline. It is the combination of these outstanding qualities that enabled Washington to answer the hero’s call of history. In Chernow’s estimation, Washington was the sole reason the Continental Army did not crumble. His great contribution was his ability to preserve the army even through some of the most horrific and tumultuous stretches of the eight year Revolution. Most interesting to learn is that Washington was more often unsuccessful in his military campaigns than victorious, but his real contribution was his resolve to persevere in the face of continual failure and despair. He never relinquished his faith and fortitude to see the struggle through to the end, and that becomes the driving force of Chernow’s biography: that Washington’s innate optimism propelled the eventual success of the war for independence and his leadership as the nation’s first chief executive.
On the personal side, Washington is portrayed as cautious in the guarded approach he took to concealing his emotions and maintaining his confidence even amidst constant thoughts of culpability and doubt. Chernow believes that humility and open-mindedness guided his principles as president. He possessed the shrewd ability of listening to and scrutinizing every angle of an issue, to the extent that Chernow contends that he never acted on emotion. Above all else, as a leader he sought to maintain unity and the preservation of the newly established states. He always put forth his best self, but was haunted by his shortcomings--in particular his lifelong struggle to balance his debts and achieve financial stability. In fact, Washington’s entire life was plagued with his inability to become solvent with his money.
In regards to the question of slavery, Chernow presents Washington’s mind as constantly in a state of quandary. Even as he expressed abhorrence to slavery and deplored its inhumanity and the evil of its rootedness in American culture at the time, he could not free himself from the southern politics and the backlash that would result if he freed his slaves. His predicament may have dictated his lack of courage to grant liberty to his slaves, but he also feared loss of his estate without slave labor. Nonetheless, in the end, Chernow is fair in presenting Washington as both a man of principles and contradictions. What Chernow does not question is Washington's supreme sacrifice and commitment to the betterment of his country. He was devoted to the union who was reverential to him as a father figure. ...more
McCullough’s biography of John Adams is a joy to read. The intimate nature in which McCullough investigates his subject makes the second president feeMcCullough’s biography of John Adams is a joy to read. The intimate nature in which McCullough investigates his subject makes the second president feel every bit like the heroic character that he was during his time. Adams is portrayed as plucky, steadfast, ardent, loyal, honorable, and driven--all important traits that made him one of the most powerful figures in the founding and shaping of America. He was also a man fueled with energy and vigor, sage-like in his wisdom, and voracious in his pursuit of knowledge. With Washington and Jefferson mythically secured at the forefront of American history as the chief patriots of the Revolutionary period, McCullough reestablishes Adams’ instrumentality in every major event that led to the eventual independence of the colonies.
Adams proves to be no side-show influence. From his youth, he had a drive to succeed. He started his professional career as a lawyer; and when the war commenced, he became a polarizing figure with his decision to serve as the defense attorney for the British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre. Soon thereafter, he found himself involved in the turmoil of politics and became a leader of the independence movement. He played an integral role in the Continental Congress and met face-to-face with General Howe to deliver the states’ refusal to compromise or capitulate to British sovereignty. When the war entered its darkest days, he was one of the few who stood steadfast in his belief that independence would prevail. His often overlooked importance to the country was as an envoy to Europe during the great conflict. He helped influence treaties with the French and secure loans from the Dutch, efforts which helped ensure that the war was won.
Indeed, McCullough makes clear how vital his overseas missions were, how he worked tirelessly to establish relations with allies. McCullough also points out how Adams was prescient about the need for a strong navy as a key tool of protection and defense for the new republic. In drafting the Massachusetts state constitution, Adams had, in effect, set up the framework for the nation’s Constitution. And later as president, it was Adams who stood disciplined against France’s reign of terror and their calumny on the seas. As a political genius, he balanced the forces of the Federalists (who wanted war) against the Republicans (who wanted peace) when it came to a near outbreak of violence with France. Never one to waver, Adams always believed in peace foremost, aligned with the tools of compromise and negotiation. However, his politics led to one of the great schisms in American history: that of his fractured relationship with his good friend Thomas Jefferson.
McCullough handles this friendship with studious grace. One of the great pleasures of this biography is the recounting of that remarkable correspondence, which developed between Adams and Jefferson in their twilight years. McCullough is astute at chronicling this iconic letter-sharing as one of the great instances of reconciliation and forgiveness in our nation’s early history. Adams was a man of gifted intelligence and understanding. He was tolerant, open to ideas, but nonetheless unbreakable in his vision of righteousness. He always set out to do what he thought was best for his country, and he never betrayed the cause of independence, freedom, and liberty. He stood for everything that has become the bedrock of American idealism: hard work, perseverance, and a determination to succeed.
McCullough’s biography must also be commended for its brilliance at investigating the extraordinary relationship of Adams with his beloved Abigail. McCullough quotes widely from their letters to show how she was a tireless supporter of her husband. It is touching to see how this relationship ranks as one of the most endearing in the history of our country. McCullough makes certain to include how Abigail’s wisdom, fortitude, and unstinting loyalty to Adams were unparalleled, not only for that era but for the sake of providing her husband with the confidence he needed to help carry out his work as a founding father....more
Once in a while, a book makes an indelible impact. For me, David McCullough's biography, Truman, is one of those magnificent books that IFull review:
Once in a while, a book makes an indelible impact. For me, David McCullough's biography, Truman, is one of those magnificent books that I will forever cherish. It instantly became an all-time favorite of mine, rivaling some of the best books I’ve ever read, such as Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Morrison’s Beloved, and McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Truman is a marvelous piece of literature about a special human being. I savored each page, and as I read, I didn’t want Harry Truman’s extraordinary story of courage and perseverance to end. Beyond his stature as president, Truman was a remarkable human being, striving always to do what was right.
From the time he was a boy growing up in Missouri, young Harry S. Truman possessed a determination to work hard and succeed. He may have looked frail and awkward with his thick-lensed spectacles, and he may have remembered himself as a “sissy” due to the fact he was shy and lacked athleticism during his adolescence, but he was well-liked and respected by his peers. He was a voracious, studious reader, and he loved to play the piano. He dreamed of wanting to become a renowned pianist or a famous general. After high school, he wanted to attend West Point, but his poor eyesight barred his acceptance. He went on to work various jobs, always earning high praise from his employers for his strong work ethic and intelligence. Then the Great War compelled him to fulfill what he believed was his duty to serve. At age thirty-five, he did not have to go, but going to war became the formative experience of Truman’s life. Elevating himself to the rank of Captain of Battery D in the U.S. Army, the experience of battle on the frontlines changed him forever: gave him the confidence that, indeed, he possessed an innate quality to lead men. He gained the courage not to run from fights; he discovered the courage to inspire.
These were traits demanded of him, after the death of Roosevelt, when he was catapulted into the unthinkable scenario of assuming the presidency. Confronted with the challenge of leading the nation through the end of the Second Great War, his choice to use the bomb against Japan was a deeply conscientious decision based on his considerations of the moral ramifications of using or not using an atomic weapon. He chose to use it as the soundest method to ending the war immediately, rather than deciding to expend the lives of potentially millions more, both on the American and Japanese sides, had the continuance of the war required the Allies to take the island of Japan in a military undertaking larger than that of the D-Day operation. During the postwar crisis, when the nuclear age and the rise of communism could have spun history towards apocalyptic disaster, he remained steadfast and optimistic with resolve to rebuff the Soviet advance in Europe by implementing the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the Berlin Airlift, all resounding achievements considering the tension the world teetered on. Aside from Churchill, Truman ranks in the 20th Century as one of the most the altruistic leaders of peace in his efforts to prevent the onslaught of a nuclear war.
How Truman pulled out the 1948 election when every political pundit and media source declared him defeated is one of the most inspiring moments to read about in the history of American politics. As an elected president emerging from the shadow of FDR, Truman's agenda and what he stood for are representative of an exemplary leader. He was incorruptible, a man of the highest integrity and honesty. He had a remarkable ability to remain calm, composed, and poised with strength under pressure. And no matter how tough the decisions he had to make, he always fell back on choosing to do what was right, even in regard to the nightmare that transpired in Korea. His leadership was a testament of courage and perseverance to stand firm against communism. He believed with confidence in the triumph of democracy as the guiding force to achieve peace. In a world of trouble and fear, he was unblinking in his determination to steer American and Russia on a path to avoid destruction.
Aside from his abilities as a leader, Truman was a model human being. He treated everyone with the same dignity and respect, never acting short or petty with anyone. He was friendly, likeable, cheerful, warmhearted, always smiling, and didn’t take himself too seriously. He put his heart in the right place and never gave up on anything he undertook. He was considerate and soft-spoken. He was strong-willed, good-natured, and patient under duress. He had ambition to succeed, but he was always decent and never allowed himself to by misguided by power. He could always be relied upon for the truth, and counted upon to make conscientious decisions in the face of adversity. He was brave, hopeful, undaunted, and indomitable in all his duties. He believed in the cause of the common man and was loyal in wanting to do everything in his power to help those who struggled to make ends meet.
McCullough’s magisterial work on Truman's life is a tremendous inspiration to read. I love this book and Truman is one of my heroes....more
American Sphinx is an erudite biography in which Joseph J. Ellis conducts an astounding psychological study of the mysterious genius and contradictoryAmerican Sphinx is an erudite biography in which Joseph J. Ellis conducts an astounding psychological study of the mysterious genius and contradictory idealism that constituted the mind of Thomas Jefferson. Ellis assesses Jefferson more as an idealistic visionary than as a political leader. Ellis shows how Jefferson’s dreams for an American republic were so farfetched that they were essentially a myth skirting the realms of unattainability. Anyone who believes in the value of progress and change will have new admiration for Jefferson as an enlightened visionary after reading Ellis’ book. However, on a realistic scale, Ellis contends that Jefferson can be only appreciated for that vision of wanting to believe in a country governed by its own righteousness.
Thomas Jefferson’s reverence in history has been preserved precisely because his ideology reflected such lofty ideas of promise for a future symbolic of a rarified type of utopian government. Unfortunately, as Ellis makes clear, what he believed was often fantastical and too illusory to be possible in reality. He quested after the perfection of man with virtue and humanity within a political model that represented a kind of agrarian liberalism of freedom and liberty that held to the philosophy that citizens could govern themselves by the sacred values of self-discipline and morality. Furthermore, Jefferson believed that federal governments should be entirely detached from the rule of the people, what might be referred to as invisible executive powers at the state level. He truly worshipped his ideal of “republicanism”--the promise of least or no federal powers. He wanted a yeomanry to exist, a communal-like standard of living that would serve as the solution to governing at the citizenry level. He detested monarchy, the judicial system, and any thought of weakening state initiatives. He feared any institutions or laws that limited the citizenry’s capacity for or pursuit of fulfillment. However, his beliefs contradicted many of his own life’s basic practices, particularly in regards to slavery.
Ellis states that Jefferson abhorred owning slaves, yet his solutions for how to end their enslavement rested in plans that were too complicated and preposterous to believe they could carried out, such as sending all Africans back to their homeland or preventing interracial societies. His inability to pursue a viable plan left him conveniently, for the sake of his own estate, to resorting not to do anything to abolish the institution of slavery. In fact, he felt that it was for future generations to solve the evil of slavery because his generation was too entwined with the difficulty of dealing with it. In effect, he believed that his ideas were universal, based on his own profound aspirations of promise and optimism. But as Ellis concludes, it is precisely because his dreams and visions were flawed that they exceeded grasp of what was possible. He was a realist only in the sense that he meant well, desired well, and wanted what was best for the people. He failed, however, to attain what he dreamed because the city on the hill he envisaged was equivalent to a heaven that did not and could not exist within the cohesion of self-governing morality and discipline complicit in the body politic.
American Sphinx is an outstanding book that contributes greatly to our understanding of Thomas Jefferson as both an important figure in our country’s history and as visionary whose ideas exceeded what was possible. His influence and popularity remain intact because what he believed in is so inspiring, even if unattainable....more
Of the dozens of books I've read on the Kennedys, David Talbot's research stands out as most insightful and original in breaking new ground. He introdOf the dozens of books I've read on the Kennedys, David Talbot's research stands out as most insightful and original in breaking new ground. He introduces unknown and, indeed, "hidden" information on the Kennedy brothers and the Kennedy presidency and administration. I learned of incidents that I had not found discussed in other resources. The history, which Talbot covers in gripping language and detail, truly captures the essence of secretive events. The accounts and encounters Talbot relays are fascinating, shocking, and downright haunting at times. A few minor examples: Bobby Kennedy's face-to-face meeting with Jimmy Hoffa on a runway tarmac, or JFK's wild experimentation with mind-altering drugs, or Jack Ruby's tangential connection with the mob. One reads this meticulously constructed biographical history and comes away revering Kennedy for the great sacrifice towards peace he strove for and at other times feeling wrath and disgust against him for the reckless and unruly personal lifestyle he descended into. At no point in the narrative does Talbot resort to ridiculous, unsubstantiated conspiracies. He merely conveys and delivers the facts with unblinking objectivity and deft storytelling skill. Talbot achieves an amazing feat of probing deeper to discover these new secrets and details, more so than any other book in the vast field of literature on Kennedy. This book is a standout study of investigative research added to the dense library of seemingly never-ceasing resources addressing Kennedy and his era....more
As far as biographies go, this is an incredibly thoughtful and passionate book. Full of unforgettable anecdotes and glimpses that are used as springboAs far as biographies go, this is an incredibly thoughtful and passionate book. Full of unforgettable anecdotes and glimpses that are used as springboards to probe the mindset of Robert F. Kennedy, each chapter’s title focuses on a descriptive aspect of what made RFK both a complex and fascinating persona. For example, Thomas labels his chapters “Moralist,” “Manipulator,” “Protector,” “Mourner,” and “Searcher” to name a few among the twenty-one total. The book is commanding and comprehensive in its chronicle of RFK's life; its real force, however, is the studious way Thomas evaluates RFK’s character to draw up some of the most definitive conclusions about who this great man truly was. Thomas’ research portrays RFK as having uncommon courage, strength, and determination while also haunted by feelings of inferiority, weakness, and failure. This biography stands out for its authoritative insight into the power and appeal of RFK’s character and the message of hope he stood for. Remembering passages that attest to RFK’s extraordinary growth into a leader and the humanity he developed as a person are inevitable as you read this book....more
The Lazarus Project bears testament to Hemon's extraordinary literary gift. The story may be simple and unspectacular, but the writing sizzles with itThe Lazarus Project bears testament to Hemon's extraordinary literary gift. The story may be simple and unspectacular, but the writing sizzles with its amazing details and stellar passages. The novel begins with a vivid recreation of the 1908 account of the killing of Lazarus Averbuch, a nineteen year old Balkan immigrant. The circumstances of the crime are suspicious, and a century later an aspiring young writer named Brik, also an immigrant from the Balkans and now living in Chicago, becomes interested in Lazarus' story and seeks to return to their homeland to retrace the life of the youth gunned down a century earlier. The novel proceeds to recount the travels and adventures of Brik and his friend Rora as they search for clues and answers to who Lazarus was. The story meanders and never hurls forward with anything overly suspenseful or revelatory about Lazarus' past. The subtlety of conveying the atrocities of history is evident in the escapades of Brik and Rora. The plot, however, is not the real value of the novel. Hemon's scintillating, mesmerizing prose carries dynamic power. He has an obsessively observant eye for sensory details, he makes fascinating use of metaphors and phrases, and his linguistic wizardry leaves you in awe. The prose flourishes and captures something original on each page; each paragraph feels poetic with insight. The reward in reading Hemon's work is immense in terms of admiring his originality and distinctiveness as an artist. Hemon has drawn comparisons with such literary giants as Nabokov and Bulgakov, but he lacks nothing to them in sheer talent....more
Over the course of a long and distinguished career, Cormac McCarthy’s award-winning fiction has established him amongst the elite in American literatuOver the course of a long and distinguished career, Cormac McCarthy’s award-winning fiction has established him amongst the elite in American literature. Tracing Western themes in past and contemporary milieus, he has created his own mythology of tough American figures etching their rugged, brutal, and oftentimes cruelly violent presence on the land and its borders. In perhaps his most personally revealing novel to date, The Road takes a grave look at the future. The novel may be a divergence from the settings of McCarthy’s previous body of work, but his prose ascends to a profoundly new level of artistry as he charts the travails of an unnamed father and son through an unexplained, post-apocalyptic world of abandoned, burned-out cities and desolate, ash-covered landscapes. This is a story of unimaginable devastation, but it is also a tale of remarkable survival and ultimately an unforgettable portrait of love between father and son. The tragedy that has befallen the world in The Road forces the father and son to encounter great suffering, yet McCarthy’s imagery and descriptions, though terrifying in their vision, contain a beauty that is at times heartbreaking and unbearable. It’s as if his language proclaims the stubbornness of life against the void capable within the hands of human destructiveness. Here is one example: “By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.” In this world of death and demise, seemingly without hope, McCarthy asserts a precaution of future nuclear holocaust. In doing so, he points out a biblical-like truth about the earth that is too many times unobserved: “The frailty of everything revealed at last.” This is a disturbing book, but the love generated between the father and his son places goodness against the disaster of the world. The beauty McCarthy finds in the madness will grip readers and not let them turn away, no matter how horrifying. ...more
No writer has captured the contemporary Southwest with more thunder and aplomb than Cormac McCarthy. His award-winning fiction depicts an often ruggedNo writer has captured the contemporary Southwest with more thunder and aplomb than Cormac McCarthy. His award-winning fiction depicts an often rugged and violent way of life that emerges in his vision of the Texas and Mexican border region, but never has one of his novels taken on a more sinister perspective than in No Country for Old Men. The drug war is the center of focus in this suspenseful drama. When Llewelyn Moss finds a briefcase of $2 million at the shootout site of a heroine exchange gone disastrous, he knows that taking the cash will endanger his life. In pursuit to reclaim the money, Anton Chigurh uses his own maniacal form of justice to deal with those he encounters. With the body count mounting, Sheriff Bell hopes to help Moss while tracking the whereabouts of the ghost-like Chigurh. McCarthy presents a host of characters spanning both sides of the divide: the deranged criminals of the cartels who work like innovators in the trafficking of narcotics and the conscientious men of law enforcement who attempt to put a boot in their path. In the end, the drug world’s malignant nature claims the lives of men both good and evil....more
McCarthy received the National Book Award for All the Pretty Horses, the first novel in his Border Trilogy. John Grady Cole is sixteen when his grandfMcCarthy received the National Book Award for All the Pretty Horses, the first novel in his Border Trilogy. John Grady Cole is sixteen when his grandfather dies and his parents separate. Moreover, his mother plans to sell the ranch John grew up on in southern Texas. To escape the turmoil in his life, John decides to set out on horseback with his friend Lacey Rawlins to explore the desert wilderness beyond the border in Mexico. Along the way, the two meet up with a runaway fourteen-year old, Jimmy Blevins, a sharpshooter who rides an extraordinary horse. After a severe storm, Jimmy loses his horse and while trying to reclaim it, he kills two men. Meanwhile John and Lacey settle into work on an expansive hacienda, and John begins a torrid and tragic love affair with the ranch owner’s daughter, Alejandra. Her aunt arranges for John and Lacey to be arrested and charged in conjunction with Blevins for the killings. The three are sent to a primitive penitentiary, where in order to survive, John must kill. The journey back to Texas for John and Lacey brings their plight full circle. McCarthy’s prose wields the power of beauty as he captures the unmerciful landscape and both the cruelty and redemption of the human condition. The story is terse in stretches, but the quest for survival and decency in the face of madness delivers a universal truth that resonates with the harshest of lessons....more
Although McCarthy’s The Road won him the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, Blood Meridian ranks as his most important book. Similar to The Road, which depicts a faAlthough McCarthy’s The Road won him the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, Blood Meridian ranks as his most important book. Similar to The Road, which depicts a father and son traversing a modern post-apocalyptic wasteland, Blood Meridian captures the stark violence and depravity stretching across the broad landscape of the barren southwest in the 1850s. Both books are reminiscent in that a central character is a young boy surviving under the protection of an indomitable male figure. In Blood Meridian, the “kid” is without a family. Traveling alone from Tennessee, he latches onto a cruelly violent group of mercenaries who have been contracted to take the scalps of Indian renegades that terrorize towns near the border states, from Texas to California. The kid’s experiences are an understatement of baptism by violence. The ruthless lifestyle of the ragtag group of cowboy militia includes many memorable characters, such as Glanton, Toadvine, and the inimitable monster of a man, Judge Holden, simply called “the judge.” McCarthy’s style and language are unparalleled in American literature. And as with The Road, passages in Blood Meridian reach profound levels of grandeur and beauty even as he envisions unspeakable acts of barbarity. Whereas The Road serves as a premonition of a dismal future, Blood Meridian reflects upon history’s atrocities and the madness carried forward from an infinite past. This novel is McCarthy's masterpiece, but in many ways it seems to serve as a more lengthy and precursory meditation to The Road. Both novels solidify McCarthy’s lifelong vision of examining the terrifying presence of violence through his signature use of breathtaking prose....more