Review: "The Border Trilogy" by Cormac McCarthy

Though I listened to Cormac McCarthy’s book No Country for Old Men on tape, the first book of his I actually read was a post-Christmas copy of The Road. Loved it. A whole lot. Not only is the writing just phenomenal, the story still haunts me. It’s about love between a father and a son, about survival, about masculinity, about decency in the midst of despair, about climate change, and most of all, about hope. But this is a review of The Border Trilogy, which I enjoyed, but was no The Road.

The BT is made up of three novels–All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain–the first two with different protagonists, and the third with them living and working together. As one work, all 1,037 pages of one, it’s pretty compelling. If you like Richard Ford, heady (and heavy) Westerns, David James Duncan, or just darn good stories that you can sink your teeth into, you’ll probably like the trilogy. McCarthy writes with enormous depth and clearly has a keen eye for detail. The story follows young adult cowboys of, um, say the 1950s and their adventures growing up. Complete with horses, gun fights, falling in love with the campaneros daughter, whiskey, bar fights, thousands of miles on the trail, and prostitutes of course, the story is explores how one finds himself (McCarthy seems to specialize in men) in a changing world. The BT is sort of Brokeback Mountain set in the south, and drawn out 100 times more. Have a 1000 page hole in your soul? This should do the trick.

P.S. If you can, do purchase the book at your local independent bookstore like Little Shop of Stories.


  1. says

    The father of two young sons, I found THE ROAD a very grim and, yes, haunting read. And I thank God for that time at a science fiction convention years ago when author William Gibson told me I HAD to read McCarthy’s BLOOD MERIDIAN. I was hooked from the first page and never looked back.

    Thanks, Bill!

  2. says

    Hi Adam,
    I just stumbled across your blog while searching for views on The Border Trilogy. As a Christian, what I appreciate about McCarthy is that he constantly returns to the big questions, making him both compelling and vexing.

    I think The Road sets itself apart from everything else he’s written by ending with both redemption and some amount of hope.

    You have a great blog. I look forward to reading more.

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