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About the book
  • Published: 7 January 2016
  • ISBN: 9781448191789
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

Butcher's Crossing

The author of Stoner delivers something completely different but equally unique, skewering romantic notions of the Wild West with a brilliant, brutal tale of buffalo hunters that reverberates with understated power.


Will Andrews is no academic. He longs for wildness, freedom, hope and vigour. He leaves Harvard and sets out for the West to discover a new way of living.

In a small town called Butcher’s Crossing he meets a hunter with a story of a lost herd of buffalo in a remote Colorado valley, just waiting to be taken by a team of men brave and crazy enough to find them. Will makes up his mind to be one of those men, but the journey, the killing, harsh conditions and sheer hard luck will test his mind and body to their limits.

  • Pub date: 7 January 2016
  • ISBN: 9781448191789
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the Author

John Williams

John Williams was born on August 29, 1922 in Clarksville, Texas. He served in the United States Army Air Force from 1942 to 1945 in China, Burma and India. The Swallow Press published his first novel, Nothing But the Night, in 1948, as well as his first book of poems, The Broken Landscape, in 1949. Macmillan published Williams' second novel, Butcher's Crossing, in 1960.
After recieving his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Denver, and his Ph.D from the University of Missouri, Williams returned in 1954 to the University of Denver where he taught literature and the craft of writing for thirty years. In 1963 Williams received a fellowship to study at Oxford University where where he received a Rockefeller grant enabling him to travel and research in Italy for his last novel, Augustus, published in 1972. John Williams died in Arkansas on March 4, 1994.

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Praise for Butcher's Crossing

“His Stoner is the book that has garnered the attention, but I prefer this earlier take on the Western genre…it has some gory, visceral passages that are not for the faint-hearted”

Kate Atkinson, Irish Times

“Shorn of sentimentality or decoration, the events and places [Williams] describes begin to feel inescapable, permanent, and rivetingly dramatic. This is language that seems to be carved into stone – into mountains... Stoner showed us a writer who had written a great book. To those of us who didn't know already, Butcher's Crossing reveals John Williams to be more than that: forgotten writer as he was, he was unquestionably also a great one”

Archie Bland, Independent

“Superbly understated”

Rosemary Goring, Herald

“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

“Harsh and relentless yet muted in tone, Butcher’s Crossing paved the way for Cormac McCarthy”

New York Times Book Review

“Butcher's Crossing is like a western by Joseph Conrad...wonderful...beautifully written”

David Nicholls

“This story about the hunt of one of the last great buffalo herds 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

“It is the novel's immense visual power and tangibility of material detail, its fully realized sense of time and place, its telling incidents, its nimble and subtle resonance with the Bible, and its fleshed-out characters, that make it a very great work”

Boston Globe

“John Williams's unsparing novels express a highly qualified though resilient optimism about our ability to salvage something of value from life's impossible conditions. Along with the necessary isolation of the artist, he conveys the sobering if startled recognition--perhaps with his own career in mind--of the transitory triumph of art”

Times Literary Supplement

“Butcher’s Crossing is remarkable for the accuracy of Williams’s prose”

John Sutherland, The Times

“Intense, unflinching lucidity”

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

“[Williams] has produced something timeless and great’ ‘Butcher’s Crossing, written in 1960 and Williams’s first mature novel, is far removed from the time and place of Stoner. It may also be the better novel”

Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

“Had me on the edge of my seat... If you do not read another book all year, read this one. At the end, I was quite gasping for breath”

Virginia Blackburn, Sunday Express

“It is a novel of great beauty and power, and it deserves the same belated recognition accorded Stoner”

David Evans, Independent on Sunday

“From the author of Stoner, a western full of the same psychological intensity”

The Times

“supremely well-written and built to last”

Adam Foulds, Spectator

“Readers of Stoner will hopefully come to Butcher’s Crossing to get more of what Williams can provide: thoughtfulness, strong writing, powerful characterisation, involving drama and images and details that remain in the reader’s mind long after reading”


“The evocation of landscape is unforgettable”

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

“Williams's intense semi-skimmed prose – so different from [Herman] Melville's full-fat variety – has the same power to mesmerize... Likely to become a favourite of 2014”

Times Literary Supplement

“The tale of men struggling to survive in a brutal landscape is told in language so sparse that whole passages are made up of monosyllabic vocabulary that is powerfully immersive. You can only guess at the influence Williams may have had on Cormac McCarthy”

Ben Felsenburg, Metro

“Williams is a versatile writer: the story of Will Andrews couldn't be more different to the tale of William Stoner – and his depiction of the behaviour of men in extreme situations is masterful”


“A meditative cowboy yarn with a putative ecological message, it could not be more different from Williams’s [Stoner]; it is just as good”

David Evans, 5 stars, Independent On Sunday

“It is a sort of Dances with Buffaloes, and one of the most tense, gripping, tragic novels I have ever read”

Giles Coren, The Times

“Stoner...is a fine book but his western novel Butcher's Crossing is even better... Visceral, violent and chilling.”

Barbara Taylor Bradford, Daily Mirror

“A novel that turns upside down the expectations of the genre—and goes to war with a century of American triumphalism, a century of regeneration through violence, a century of senseless slaughter.”

John Plotz, Guardian

“A novel that turns upside down the expectations of the genre—and goes to war with a century of American triumphalism, a century of regeneration through violence, a century of senseless slaughter.”

John Plotz, Guardian

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