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Extended Audio Sample Butcher’s Crossing, by John Williams Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Williams Narrator: Anthony Heal Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Harsh and relentless yet muted in tone, Butcher’s Crossing paved the way for Cormac McCarthy. It was perhaps the first and best revisionist western.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Writers as talented and right-minded as John Williams are not naturally plentiful.”

    New York Sun

  • “[This story] becomes a young man’s search for the integrity of his own being...The characters are defined, the events lively, the place, the smells, the sounds right. And the prose is superb.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “One of the finest books about the elusive nature of the West ever written…It’s a graceful and brutal story of isolated men gone haywire.”

    Time Out New York

  • “John Williams’ unsparing novels express a highly qualified though resilient optimism about our ability to salvage something of value from life’s impossible conditions.”

    Times Literary Supplement

  • “John Williams’ Butcher’s Crossing is a Western masterpiece, an unflinching parable of endurance.”


  • “One of the finest novels of the West ever to come out of the West.”

    Denver Post

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About the Author
Author John Williams

John Williams (1922–1994) was born in Texas. The poet and novelist taught at and received his PhD from the University of Missouri in the early 1950s. In 1955 he became the director of the University of Denver’s creative writing program, where he became the editor of the University of Denver Quarterly. He remained at Denver until his retirement in 1986. He was a cowinner of the 1973 National Book Award for Fiction for the novel Augustus.