Butcher’s Crossing

Written by:
John Williams
Narrated by:
Anthony Heald

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
June 2008
10 hours 22 minutes
In his National Book Award–winning novel Augustus, John Williams uncovered the secrets of ancient Rome. With Butcher's Crossing, his fiercely intelligent, beautifully written western, Williams dismantles the myths of modern America.

It is the 1870s, and Will Andrews, fired up by Emerson to seek 'an original relation to nature,' drops out of Harvard and heads west. He washes up in Butcher's Crossing, a small Kansas town on the outskirts of nowhere. Butcher's Crossing is full of restless men looking for ways to make money and ways to waste it. Before long Andrews strikes up a friendship with one of them, a man who regales Andrews with tales of immense herds of buffalo, ready for the taking, hidden away in a beautiful valley deep in the Colorado Rockies. He convinces Andrews to join in an expedition to track the animals down. The journey out is grueling, but at the end is a place of paradisiacal richness. Once there, however, the three men abandon themselves to an orgy of slaughter, so caught up in killing buffalo that they lose all sense of time. Winter soon overtakes them: they are snowed in. Next spring, half-insane with cabin fever, cold, and hunger, they stagger back to Butcher's Crossing to find a world as irremediably changed as they have been.
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Simon K.

I was asked to read this by my book club. I drive for 2 hours a day, so I listen to books rather than read them. Although I thought that this was a biography of Pam St Clements (east Enders actress), I became thoroughly engrossed. It has a very contemporary feel, so I was very surprised to hear at the end, that it was written in the 60s. I generally listen to non-fiction titles, but this book (possibly enhanced by the narrator) really captured something. So much so, that I have started listening to another title by the same author (Stoner). This too gives an insight into another time in another culture. There is a sense of post Victorian proprietary within this very detailed commentary about the period. (Stoner). There are few authors of fiction that have any relevance, connection, enjoyment for me. I cannot commend this audio edition highly enough. I was transported into a bygone age and could smell the characters. For someone who dislikes fiction, this must be a positive recommendation. It is more than fiction, however. It feels as though one has been transported to a bygone age. This is a significant and thought provoking piece of literature that is part story, part documentary, part self-realisation and part social/political/historical commentary. So many parts! I was very moved by this book and it has had a considerable impact upon my outlook in a variety of ways. I can't say whether others will like it, but how can anyone not be moved by it?

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A. Longa

The author does a great job making you feel like you are in the middle of snow storm or climbing a mountain. The narrator is fantastic with each different voice.

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