The Border Trilogy

The Border Trilogy

Book - 1999
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.

Available together in one volume for the first time, the three novels of Cormac McCarthy's award-winning and bestselling Border Trilogy constitute a genuine American epic.


Beginning with All the Pretty Horses and continuing through The Crossing and Cities of the Plain, McCarthy chronicles the lives of two young men coming of age in the Southwest and Mexico, poised on the edge of a world about to change forever. Hauntingly beautiful, filled with sorrow and humor, The Border Trilogy is a masterful elegy for the American frontier.

Baker & Taylor
A trio of novel--All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain--that chronicles the lives and fates of two young men coming of age in the American Southwest and Mexico are combined in a single volume. 20,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Everyman's Library, 1999.
ISBN: 9780375407932
Call Number: FIC MCC
Characteristics: 301, 425, 291 pages ; 22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
RogerDeBlanck Jan 31, 2018

All the Pretty Horses is the first novel in McCarthy’s remarkable The Border Trilogy. It chronicles the plight of sixteen-year-old John Grady Cole. He is a young man with an extraordinary love for the land and an equally unique devotion for the rearing of horses. When his grandfather dies and his parents separate, his mother plans to sell the ranch John grew up on in southern Texas. To escape the turmoil in his life, John sets out on horseback with his friend to explore the desert wilderness beyond the border in Mexico. John Grady’s quest for solace becomes a trial of survival and a search for decency in the face of madness. In examining the cruelty of the human condition, McCarthy locates through John Grady a redemptive quality that resonates with the harshest of lessons for the young man. No one creates mood and atmosphere in quite the same vivid and breathtaking fashion as does McCarthy. The beauty and precision of his prose wields a biblical-like power as he captures the merciless borderland and the depths of one’s fortitude and resilience. On its own, All the Pretty Horses is a masterpiece of contemporary American literature.

The Crossing is the second novel in McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy. It charts the life-altering experiences of two brothers, Billy and Boyd Parham. After the older brother Billy traps a marauding she-wolf, instead of killing the animal, he seeks to restore it to its home in the remote Mexican mountains. Upon his return to his family’s ranch, Billy discovers an unspeakable tragedy has occurred. He reunites with Boyd, and the brothers head back across the border in search of answers to what happened. Their journey puts them in the path of wanderers, philosophers, bandits, and entertainers. Against the backdrop of America’s entrance into the Second World War, the story both drains and fills the heart. McCarthy’s remarkable language skills and his incredible narrative abilities explore the profoundest questions of human existence and the keenest of lessons regarding the human condition. In chronicling the plight of his young heroes, he brings great compassion and understanding to the notions of loss and redemption. The Crossing is a major achievement and one of McCarthy’s most impressive books. It can be read separately from All the Pretty Horses.

Cities of the Plain is the third novel in McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy. It brings together the protagonists from each of the previous two volumes. John Grady Cole from All the Pretty Horses is now nineteen years old and nine years the junior of Billy Parham from The Crossing. Regardless of the disparity in their ages, the men share an inseparable friendship and a deep passion for riding horses and living off the land. They work as ranch hands for a respected landowner on his farm not far from the Mexican border. When John Grady tumbles helplessly in love with a sixteen-year-old Mexican prostitute from across the border, he provokes the ire of the girl’s pimp. John’s relentless desire to marry the girl leads him down a dangerous and fateful path. Billy’s attempts to protect his friend draw him into the violent turmoil where there is no turning back. As McCarthy does throughout volumes one and two of the trilogy, he makes the landscape and the characters who endure the rugged terrain as important an aspect of his writing as the story. The narrative stretches in many directions with keen insight about life on the ranch, but in the scenes that brim with action and tension, no writer is more adept at description and nuance than McCarthy. This is an admirable conclusion to an amazing trilogy. Anyone who wants to gain the full vision of McCarthy’s work will want to read all three volumes.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at IndyPL

To Top