Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)” as Want to Read:
All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

All the Pretty Horses

(The Border Trilogy #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  87,621 ratings  ·  5,681 reviews
All the Pretty Horses tells of young John Grady Cole, the last of a long line of Texas ranchers. Across the border Mexico beckons—beautiful and desolate, rugged and cruelly civilized. With two companions, he sets off on an idyllic, sometimes comic adventure, to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.
Paperback, First Vintage Edition, 302 pages
Published June 29th 1993 by Vintage (first published May 11th 1992)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about All the Pretty Horses, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Thomas O'Neil Its definitely McCarthy's style, and I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I'd read that he simply doesn't like tarnishing the page with ugly blots…moreIts definitely McCarthy's style, and I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I'd read that he simply doesn't like tarnishing the page with ugly blots and marks.

Could have just imagined reading that, though. (less)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingAnimal Farm by George Orwell
Best Books of the 20th Century
7,879 books — 48,794 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Best Westerns
1,008 books — 1,216 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  87,621 ratings  ·  5,681 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)
Annet
What a great writer, I've become a big fan. This is my fourth McCarthy book and I just love his style, his stories, the way he describes desert country...darkness all round, but so good...
Does anyone know if McCarthy is still writing? I would love a new book....
Kemper
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, 2011, western
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
...more
Joe Valdez
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My introduction to the fiction of Pulitzer Prize winner and Oprah Winfrey fan Cormac McCarthy is All the Pretty Horses, the first novel in McCarthy's so-called Border Trilogy, published in 1992. Westerns set in the post World War II country between Texas and Mexico, the trilogy continued with The Crossing and Cities of the Plain. The first seventy-five percent of this brooding, terse and darkly mesmerizing ranching tale is glorious, towering over the intersection of storytelling and language. ...more
Martine
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 ...more
Dolors
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The harsh and the beautiful
Recommended to Dolors by: A friend
Shelves: read-in-2019, dost
Set in 1949, between the frontier lands that separate Texas from México, McCarthy introduces the legendary John Grady Cole when he is barely sixteen years of age. Destitute of state and home after his grandfather’s death, the boy starts a journey of personal growth that will bring him face to face with the harsh violence and crudity of life among bandits, cowboys and outlaws.
“All the pretty horses” is my first contact with the epic Cormac McCarthy, and even though I can’t deny the rugged
...more
Lyn
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cormac McCarthy, in his 1992 novel, (which begins his Border Trilogy) has again conjured up dark and somber images of the verges of human civilization both literally and metaphorically in Mexico.

John Grady Cole and his friend leave 1949 Texas and cross the border into Mexico and in some respects goes back in time as the tone and setting could be a hundred years earlier. Cole works on a horse ranch and then because of his skill with horses is invited into the ranch house where he begins a
...more
Jaline
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
The Border Trilogy – Part 1 of 3

His name is John Grady Cole and he is 16 years old. His world shifted and changed radically from what he knew and what he expected while growing up in San Angelos, Texas. He and his best friend Lacey Rawlins (17) decide to ride to Mexico and see if they can find work on a ranch.

On their way there, a younger boy, possibly 14 (although he lay claim to 16 years) named Jimmy Blevins joins them, although neither is particularly keen to have the fellow along. For
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1), Cormac McCarthy
All the Pretty Horses is a novel by American author Cormac McCarthy published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1992. Its romanticism (in contrast to the bleakness of McCarthy's earlier work) brought the writer much public attention. It was a bestseller, and it won both the U.S. National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It is also the first of McCarthy's "Border Trilogy".
The novel tells of John Grady Cole, a 16-year-old who
...more
Robin
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: true romantics
On the surface, this book is a cowboy adventure. A gritty story in which childhood doesn't exist and two teenage boys, John Grady and Lacey Rawlins, are alone riding in a land foreign to them. They speak when they only truly have something worth saying. They sleep under the stars. Their only possessions are often the clothes on their back, a razor and a toothbrush. Oh, and their horses.

This life is sometimes idyllic, but more often, dangerous. It becomes complicated when they run into Blevins, a
...more
Katie
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cormac McCarthy is so good at making you care deeply about his characters and then keeping you on tenterhooks of dread about what horror of bloodletting he's going to lead them into.
Two young boys, John Grady Cole and Lacey Rawlins, decide to leave their homes in Texas and ride to Mexico. Early on, McCarthy sets up a heartwarming friendship between them. And between Cole and his horse. Then they are joined by another boy even younger than they are who is riding an expensive horse. There's
...more
Jason Koivu
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 13, 2007 rated it liked it
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT


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
...more
Richard Derus
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Bram
Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Duane
My first Cormac McCarthy book and not what I expected, better in fact. Excellent writing as one would expect from this acclaimed writer. It's the story of three young men, teenagers actually, not happy with their lives in 1949 Texas, so they decide to strike out for Mexico. What they find is a landscape, a culture, and a social system far different than what they left behind. There is a starkness to this novel, combined with a romanticism that McCarthy molds perfectly into the story and the ...more
Julie Christine
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
...more
Lucie
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gloriously atmospheric reading experience.

It's not so much what this book is about as it is the words of this book. The delicious, deliberate, patient, cowboy-slow, piece-of-straw-in-your-mouth, quiet way the story is told.

The terrain of Texas and Mexico. Horseback riding and camping. Campfires, campfire meals (I seem to remember there being a lot of tortillas and beans). Strong black coffee in the morning. The solitude. The open air. The night sky. Traveling on horseback. Divine.

“He lay on
...more
yana
Jun 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Libby Cone
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
A young hired hand is warned against getting close to the beautiful, haughty daughter of his ranchowner employer, but her haunting beauty zzzzzzzzzz.........
Maxwell
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2018
I find Cormac McCarthy's writing to be intimidating at the start of each novel but quickly find myself falling into its rhythm and cadence. There's a strong musicality to his writing, like the beat of a horse's hooves. His descriptions are vivid even in their bleakness, but this story is much more romantic than I expected. It's still a bit gruesome at times but has a romantic sensibility that makes this story feel like a classic, that of a lovestruck young man, his loyal companion, and his ...more
Patrick Reinken
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
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
...more
Jamie
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-wild-west
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
Lara
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.
chlo (the.lovely.reader)
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, favorites
4.5

Love McCarthy's unique, deep and fluent writing that carries from novel to novel though the plots may change.

Love Westerns, love books that aren't predictable, love books that depict realist worldviews -- no sugarcoating situations to always turn out for the better.

New favorite.
Gary
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Ascent into Hell

You read the first sentence of a Cormac McCarthy novel and you know that this is not Grisham or Connolly or Child or Crichton or King, certainly not Patterson, or anyone else writing fiction today. And before the first page is turned he has launched into one of his frenetic poetic riffs that lurches and rambles and stops and starts and doesn't care about punctuation and you can almost hear your high school English teacher scolding about grammar and run-on sentences but you know
...more
J. Kent Messum
Cormac McCarthy holds a unique position in the literary community: Practically untouchable. He has both the guts and the gumption to wade into drowning pools that other authors can't dip a toe in. McCarthy is well known for his acute sense of southern darkness, often writing about the depths of depravity people have sunk to, putting a magnifying glass to the appalling violence humans engage in on the fringes of civilization. He does so with a wisdom and unflinching eye rarely found in ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Jun 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
This is a widely popular and beloved book and author, so it comes as quite a surprise to me that I didn’t like it one bit.
The beginning of “All the Pretty Horses” was the best part. While it was a jumpstart to a pretty simple story about two boys escaping to Mexico, it was intriguing to read, and I appreciated the western feel that we get.
However, from there onwards the story went downhill for me. The plot was too constructed with epic themes such as romance and shooting mingled with horses,
...more
Perry
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Death of the Old West, Cowboys and the Frontier
Cowboys like smoky old pool rooms & clear mountain mornins,
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night.
Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys, Bruce, 1975.

Go west young man, haven't you been told
California's full of whiskey, women and gold
Should've Been a Cowboy, Keith, 1992.


I found this by far the most readable of Cormac McCarthy's novels. All the Pretty Horses is in many ways an elegiac novel about the death of the
...more
Elise (TheBookishActress)
You know how sometimes you read a book for school and spend hours discussing the brilliant symbolism of this scene and that scene, but then you get to the end and realize you didn't enjoy anything about the book? That's what happened here.

This is one of those books with brief symbolism that never builds to anything. Yes, there's symbolism, but it's all about the rugged west and the resilience of the masculine spirit. Original.

I won't deny the prose is decent. McCarthy has some talent for
...more
Jason
Dec 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Libra
  • Rabbit, Run
  • The Last Picture Show
  • As I Lay Dying
  • Lonesome Dove
  • Underworld
  • Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories
  • True Grit
  • Mason & Dixon
  • White Noise
  • The Crying of Lot 49
  • The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy l Summary & Study Guide
  • East of Eden
  • Light in August
  • The Sisters Brothers
  • Butcher's Crossing
  • Operation Shylock: A Confession
  • Mao II
See similar books…
15,509 followers
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
...more

Other books in the series

The Border Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Crossing (The Border Trilogy, #2)
  • Cities of the Plain (The Border Trilogy, #3)
“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” 2309 likes
“Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.” 485 likes
More quotes…