Death Comes for the Archbishop

Narrated by: David Ackroyd
Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (537 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Willa Cather's best known novel is an epic - almost mythic - story of a single human life lived simply in the silence of the Southwestern desert. 

In 1851, Father Jean Marie Latour comes to serve as the apostolic vicar to New Mexico. What he finds is a vast territory of red hills and tortuous arroyos, American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. In the almost 40 years that follow, Latour spreads his faith in the only way he knows - gently, all the while contending with an unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. 

Out of these events, Cather gives us an indelible vision of life unfolding in a place where time itself seems suspended. 

©2014 Willa Cather (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us." (Rebecca West)
"A truly remarkable book... Soaked through and through with atmosphere... From the riches of her imagination and sympathy Miss Cather has distilled a very rare piece of literature. It stands out, from the very resistance it opposes to classification." ( New York Times)

What listeners say about Death Comes for the Archbishop

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A beautiful story, perfectly read

I downloaded this book on a whim, but wow was it something special. This novel is written simply but very elegantly, and I was moved by the story of the colorful lives of the bishop and his faithful friend. The narration is perfect for the story--sparse, unadorned, perfectly judged. I recommend this to anyone, but especially those looking to be carried away to harder but simpler times. What a powerful counterpoint to our troubled times.

15 people found this helpful

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Such gorgeous prose wonderfully spoken.

Since I was 23 I’ve wanted to read this work. Now I’m 59 and Willa came back to me. I chose to listen to the audio book as I followed along on my Kindle and it was just an outstanding experience. The reader’s voice and pacing are spot on. I hope to share this story with some of my close friends so that they might understand themselves a little better, as I now do myself thanks to the great talents of Willa Cather. She truly is one of America’s finest authors.


3 people found this helpful

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Breathtaking!

Where does Death Comes for the Archbishop rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I was blown away by the descriptions of the New Mexico sky and landscape. I wanted to jump in my car and drive to Santa Fe. I downloaded this book after reading a travel piece in the New York Times that quoted from the novel extensively and was blown away by both the descriptions of the landscape but even more so by the description of the life of early missionaries, the Mexicans and the native Americans. Highly recommend!

7 people found this helpful

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Finally!

I've been watching for this audible version of this book for years! Thank you, whoever made this happen.

3 people found this helpful

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A wonderful book

What made the experience of listening to Death Comes for the Archbishop the most enjoyable?

I listened to it while on a long journey and the vivid detailed descriptions of scenery and life in New Mexico took me there and made the time pass so quickly. It is a book I look forward to listening to again.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were several themes in the book, from the political life of New Mexico, treatment of Native Americans to Georgia O Keefe that inspired me to research more and that can only be a good thing.

2 people found this helpful

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Lovely prose, thin plot

This story of a Catholic priest and bishop in the territory of New Mexico is beautifully written, but the plot is thin. It is never clear where it is going or what the point of the author really is. We get a beautiful depiction of a geographical area in a certain period in North American history. Along the way we meet some indigenous people and there is some reference to their terrible plight, as a result of the arrival of Europeans (centuries before) and more recent settlers from the US. The book is worth listening to as a way to widen exposure to a variety of American literature, in particular by a female author. But there is much contemporary American literature and a vast amount of literature from other parts of the world (UK, Continental Europe, Russia) that precedes it by a few decades that far surpasses this in depth and complexity of plot. The narrator is mediocre and this is one of the few Audible recordings that I found speeding up to 1.25 improved it.

1 person found this helpful

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A Great Trading of A Great Book

I waited for years for someone to record this beautiful, elegiac book about friendship, faith, and the enchanted lands of New Mexico and the Southwest. I could not ask for a better version. Thank you.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful story

I loved this story. Wonderfully narrated. It shows the hardships and dedication of those who settled here.

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National treasure

Willa Cather is a National Treasure. This book is one of her best. Stories within stories. History and poetry. New Mexico landscape.

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Amazing book

I live in Taos, NM, and this is a very interesting story. regardless of whether you've been to the SW United States, this one is worth your time.

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  • Alicia Weston
  • 04-11-18

more relevant to the Americas


there wasn't much of a plot to this, it's more or less a biographical novel.
I liked: an insight into the history and life of the time in Mexico

I didn't like : rather pedestrian plot, if you can call it a plot. that the reader couldn't pronounce the French at all.

overall it just about held my attention. I think it's rather after the style of 'Bonanza' and westerns , probably more relevant to an American audience