Cities of the Plain: Border Trilogy (3) (Vintage International) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Cormac McCarthy concludes his Border Trilogy with Cities of the Plain. Billy Purham and John Crady Cole are working on a cattle ranch, near the proving grounds of Almogordo New Mexico. The border lands have El Paso Texas, and Mexico nearby.  The government will soon be taking over a chunk of the ranch land for the military and the men are wondering what their future might hold.  It seems clear the west is changing rapidly. Billy and another ranch hand, Troy,  go off for a couple days. Billy likes working for Mac, he is a fair boss, but Troy has a brother looking for hands on his ranch, a place not imperiled by government seizure, and the men think they should check out the situation. While they are away John Grady joins some of the other hands going across the border to a bordello. John doesn’t join them with the women, but notices a new girl, young and slim.  He can’t get her out of his mind; his feelings grow into a passion that he cannot deny.  Enlisting the help of his friend Billy, John Crady will try to rescue the young woman setting in motion a series of tragic events.  Cormac McCarthy is known for writing dark, melodic novels with deeply haunting stories.


— Deon Stonehouse


In this magnificent new novel, the National Book Award-winning author of All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing fashions a darkly beautiful elegy for the American frontier.  

The setting is New Mexico in 1952, where John Grady Cole and Billy Parham are working as ranch hands. To the North lie the proving grounds of Alamogordo; to the South, the twin cities of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. Their life is made up of trail drives and horse auctions and stories told by campfire light. It is a life that is about to change forever, and John Grady and Billy both know it.

The catalyst for that change appears in the form of a beautiful, ill-starred Mexican prostitute.  When John Grady falls in love, Billy agrees--against his better judgment--to help him rescue the girl from her suavely brutal pimp. The ensuing events resonate with the violence and inevitability of classic tragedy.   Hauntingly beautiful, filled with sorrow, humor and awe, Cities of the Plain is a genuine American epic.

About the Author

Cormac McCarthy received the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award for All the Pretty Horses.

Praise For…

"An American classic to stand with the finest literary achievements of the century."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Grave and majestic.... McCarthy has created an imaginative oeuvre greater and deeper than any single book. Such writers wrestle with the gods themselves." --Washington Post Book World

"Showcases Mr. McCarthy's gifts as an old-fashioned storyteller.... His most readable, emotionally engaging novel yet." --The New York Times

"Soars as few novels have in recent years...a work of which any writer would be proud." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

"If you love classic narrative, quest stories, adventure stories of high order transformed by one of the lapidary masters of contemporary American fiction, now is your hour of triumph."
--Chicago Tribune

"Captures a way of life so unspoken and deep that most people never knew it existed--. [McCarthy] can go places in prose as remote as a mountain pass in a high wind."--The Boston Globe
Product Details
ISBN: 9780679747192
ISBN-10: 0679747192
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: May 25th, 1999
Pages: 304
Language: English
Series: Vintage International