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All the Pretty Horses (Border Trilogy) [Hardcover]

Cormac McCarthy
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1900 Border Trilogy (Book 1)
Now a major motion picture from Columbia Pictures starring Matt Damon, produced by Mike Nichols, and directed by Billy Bob Thornton.

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; First Edition edition (1 Jan 1900)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394574745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394574745
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 15.4 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,235,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island. He later went to Chicago, where he worked as an auto mechanic while writing his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. The Orchard Keeper was published by Random House in 1965; McCarthy's editor there was Albert Erskine, William Faulkner's long-time editor. Before publication, McCarthy received a travelling fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which he used to travel to Ireland. In 1966 he also received the Rockefeller Foundation Grant, with which he continued to tour Europe, settling on the island of Ibiza. Here, McCarthy completed revisions of his next novel, Outer Dark. In 1967, McCarthy returned to the United States, moving to Tennessee. Outer Dark was published in 1968, and McCarthy received the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1969. His next novel, Child of God, was published in 1973. From 1974 to 1975, McCarthy worked on the screenplay for a PBS film called The Gardener's Son, which premiered in 1977. A revised version of the screenplay was later published by Ecco Press. In the late 1970s, McCarthy moved to Texas, and in 1979 published his fourth novel, Suttree, a book that had occupied his writing life on and off for twenty years. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, and published his fifth novel, Blood Meridian, in 1985. All the Pretty Horses, the first volume of The Border Trilogy, was published in 1992. It won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was later turned into a feature film. The Stonemason, a play that McCarthy had written in the mid-1970s and subsequently revised, was published by Ecco Press in 1994. Soon thereafter, the second volume of The Border Trilogy, The Crossing, was published with the third volume, Cities of the Plain, following in 1998. McCarthy's next novel, No Country for Old Men, was published in 2005. This was followed in 2006 by a novel in dramatic form, The Sunset Limited, originally performed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago. McCarthy's most recent novel, The Road, was published in 2006 and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Product Description


"'A uniquely brilliant book... as subtly beautiful as its desert setting' Sunday Times; 'The finest action writer since Hemingway... a darkly shining work... immensely entertaining... executed with consummate skill and much subtlety - the effect is magnificent' Observer; 'One of the great American novels of this or any time' Guardian" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

A critical triumph, this is the story of John Grady Cole, who at 16 finds himself at the dying end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. To escape a society moving in all the wrong directions, Cole and two fellow travellers set out for Mexico, a land at once beautiful and desolate, rugged and cruelly civilised.

But what begins as an idyllic, sometimes comic adventure, leads, in fact, to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Within months, one of the boys is dead, and the other two aged beyond their years.

A story about childhood passing, innocence and an American age, here is a grand story and an education in responsibility, revenge and survival.

'All the Pretty Horses' is truly a masterpiece.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THE CANDLEFLAME and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mesmerising read 5 Oct 1999
By A Customer
This is an astonishing and spellbinding book, a triumph of writing and storytelling. The first sentence is sufficient to draw the reader into a journey from a father's deathbed to the wild plains of the American West. But the time could be the present with its drab towns, unemployment and men either too intelligent or too stupid for the lives they are trapped in. The author can describe the American landscape with an honesty and lyricism that echoes the finest ancient literature. He does this in a unique style that sounds like the voice of a hardened cowboy who understands deeply his horses and his land. This book leaves Hollywood versions of the west behind in the dust. For McCarthy's world is tragic and poetic, blackened with brutality and rotten justice as much as it sparkles with the beauty of nature. Its heroes are tough, battered and compelling to the last page.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book full of rugged but beautiful prose 15 April 2001
By A Customer
In the first instalment of his border trilogy, Cormac McCarthy has distanced himself somewhat from the bleak and dark themes and characters he created in his first novels, such as The Orchard Keeper and Outer Dark, and reset his prose in western America, in the border country that divides America from Mexico. Into this landscape of harsh beauty, he puts John Grady Cole, our protagonist, and his friend Lacey Rawlins, two old school cowboys who see the western life that they love changing, and decide to leave for Mexico in search of work as 'Vaqeuros', ranchers. On their way they encounter Blevins, a dangerous young boy with a keen shot riding a stolen horse. Their experiences shape the story into what i believe to be one of the finest books written by an American author in decades. McCarthy's prose is a joy to read, and the dialogue is often poignant and hilarious. And he also delivers what is probably the greatest fight scene in contemporary literature. Poetic, beautiful, funny, and at times almost unbearingly sad, read this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Pictures in a Harsh World 28 Aug 2009
McCarthy has been both praised and damned for his lyrical, poetic, non-grammatical, punctuation-less, rare-word-studded prose, and this style is very much in evidence here. From the opening sentence to the last page, this style is ever present, becoming almost remorseless in its tone and evocation of time and place. If you've never read one of his works before, it might take you awhile to adjust to it, but once you do, the images it paints in your head will become brilliant and indelible.

The other renowned McCarthy trait, that of celebration of violence, brutality, of a harsh world where only the most determined survive, is present here also, but for this book it seems as if this fades a bit into the background, under the cover of a compelling coming-of-age story of a young sixteen year old horse-loving cowboy John Grady Cole who wanders off to Mexico in search of employment and finds his first love. Along the way we are treated to quite a bit of philosophical ruminations about religion and life's obstacles, problems, and purpose, frequently delivered in very short sentences of dialogue that are almost baldly stated, with little back-up ratiocination to justify their conclusions. It's not until nearly the end that we are treated to a multi-page discourse on these subjects, delivered by the girl's elderly aunt as almost an aside to the main story, but this section is really the heart of the book, and colors and limns all of Cole's actions and fate.

Cole's character is well defined, for all that we never really get inside his head (another McCarthy trait), as his minimal statements and large actions create the picture of just who and what he is.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time in Mexico 6 April 2006
I'd never been greatly compelled to read a book in such a typically cinematic genre, but this is incredible. It combines the bloodthirsty epic sweep of the great Sergio Leone spagetti westerns with the harsh realism of later revisionist works such as Unforgiven. All this described in a language born of the genre - McCarthy has developed a kind of pure-Western prose seeped in the rugged, open country, the tough men trapped in their interior worlds, their bleak fatalism and capacity for violence. Its envisioning of Mexico as the new frontier for a dying breed of ranch men (ie., cowboys) is realised with unromanticised poeticism. The writing - like the cowboy dialogue - is economic yet vast in its capacity to evoke the landscape and its protagonists deep respect for it. McCarthy also has a great ear for dialogue that enriches what might otherwise be perceived to be rather clichéd characterisations, such as the ruthless Mexican captain. The first in McCarthy's Border Trilogy - this has also been adapted into a movie by Billy Bob Thornton that I haven't yet seen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
Strange title - I only found it by chance because it is read by Brad Pitt. The first of a trilogy, this first book concerns one of the characters, the second another, and the two are brought together in the third. John Grady Cole, the hero, and his friends leave home at an early age and seek work on the ranches of Mexico. Here he finds love and also suffers much injustice and lawlessness, growing in character and stature the while. Many authors make the mistake of going into too much description, or expatiate about their characters emotions. McCarthy never does this; his prose is spare and basic, and only what you would have seen had you been there is described, never the thoughts or feelings of the characters. Nevertheless the landscape comes vividly before you and you do come to understand and care about the characters. Brad Pitt has just the right voice for it, sort of soft and smokey, with an accent you can imagine the characters using. Occasionally his intonation made me wonder if he completely understood what he was reading, but generally a good impression. I have gone on to listen to the other two books in the trilogy, so it must have been good!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 20 days ago by Steven Hartley
5.0 out of 5 stars Brill'
Great condition
Published 2 months ago by TJ MCGINN
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommend
Surprisingly interesting book club read. Recommend fir something differeny
Published 2 months ago by Pat foster
5.0 out of 5 stars All the Pretty Horses
really fine story, remote, distant, yet reality. Full of twists and turns.
Published 2 months ago by Gerry
5.0 out of 5 stars It tells of a young man and his love of horses
This book is the ultimate western! It tells of a young man and his love of horses. The main character though is the border country between Texas and Mexico and the prose was to me... Read more
Published 2 months ago by mr
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 3 months ago by jwach
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy customer
Yes. all is good and swift delivery too!
Published 3 months ago by Sonja
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing, captivating story
I love horses and I love stories of the Old West so this novel - set in 1949 - was just perfect for me. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Four Violets
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb evocation of time and place
Few books seem to live up to the hyped reviews published to promote them (professional reviews that is, rather than the more accurate assessment you'll find from Amazon reviewers)... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jl Adcock
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good novel
This is "Of Mice and Men" written by someone with an actual clue about writing - not that I want to compare McCarthy's novel with the drivel composed by Steinbeck, but they... Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. S. Bancroft
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