No Country for Old Men


Author: McCarthy, Cormac

Title: No Country for Old Men

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Publication Date: July 19, 2005

Number of Pages: 320 pp (hard cover edition)

Geographical Setting: Texas (near U.S./Mexico border)

Time Period: 1980

Plot Summary: Llewelyn Moss is a near down-on-his-luck Vietnam veteran that is hunting antelope by the big river when he’s first introduced in McCarthy’s book of dealings-gone-awry, life’s poor decisions, the regret that it brings, and the manhunts that soon follow. After finding a cache of heroin and over 2 million dollars left at the scene of a botched drug trade, Moss risks his wife’s and his own life for the money. While on the run, a local law enforcer, Sheriff Bell, tries to track down Moss to offer him a possible way out of the situation. But Anton Chigurh, a hired professional who tracks Moss for the cartel, sees no other resolution than recovering his employer’s losses and ending Moss’ life. The chase is relentless, bloody, and violent. But intertwined with scenes from the manhunt, each character offers some introspective peaks into their lives and how it all came about. No Country for Old Men is starkly intimate as much as it is filled with full-tilt violence. Each main character struggles for a certain level of redemption and/or an ongoing definition to their lives. Each man subscribes to his own school of thought, his own system of justice and morality. Each man’s fierce drive for survival and supremacy is contained in ingenuity, stun guns, pistols and rifles, promises made, coin flips, and the tooth-and-nail fight for a comfortable life without regret. It is a narrative that is syrupy in that it is thick and rich in the visual appeal that comes from the words and the uneasiness that emits from the characters during the chase. The progression never skips over its own rhythm and never fully depicts all the details of anything. The reader is welcome to read about most everything, but you are not welcome to know it all.

Subject Headings: 1980s; Texas; Mexico; Southwest Border; War Veterans; Sheriffs; Hunters; Assassins; Drug Trafficking; Drug Trade; Heroin; Money; Caches; Manhunts; Chases; Murder; Violence; Revenge; Good vs. Evil; Suspense or Thriller Fiction

Appeal: Dark, raw, bleak, gritty, suspenseful, violent, vengeful, multiple character points-of-view, characters seeking redemption, layered characters, cinematic, arid landscape, gloomy, taut, bloody, tenacious, relentless momentum, evenly-paced, tense

Similar Authors & Works: According to most reviewers, McCarthy is most similar to William Faulkner in that both develop characters that struggle with deep issues of morality and humanity. Like No Country for Old Men, Faulkner’s Light in August is set in the South and revolves around three men dealing with inner turmoil and difficult outer circumstances. James Carlos Blake’s In the Rogue Blood is a western that mirrors McCarthy’s bloody western tales. Like most of these stories, inner conflict with good and evil are prevalent.

Relevant Non-Fiction Authors & Works: Drug Lord: The Life & Death of a Mexican Kingpin – True Story is a biography of Pablo Acosta by journalist/writer Terrence E. Poppa. It is a rags-to-riches tale of one Mexican boy that becomes the drug czar of Ojinaga, a city just across the border from Big Bend country of Texas. It tells of his rise to being responsible for 60% of the drugs going into the United States and his arrangements with the Columbian drug cartels. Border Games: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide by Peter Andreas is an in-depth look into the current happenings on the world’s busiest country border. Acting as the single barrier between a rich state and a poor one, the U.S.-Mexico border patrol has to defend against drug smugglers and the migrant labor forces. This book delves into how law enforcement must escalate to keep up with, not only the drugs and the illegal aliens, but also the effects of NAFTA.


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