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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2007

America is a barren landscape of smoldering ashes, devoid of life except for those people still struggling to scratch out some type of existence. Amidst this destruction, a father and his young son walk, always toward the coast, but with no real understanding that circumstances will improve once they arrive. Still, they persevere, and their relationship comes to represent goodness in a world of utter devastation.

Bleak but brilliant, with glimmers of hope and humor, The Road is a stunning allegory and perhaps Cormac McCarthy's finest novel to date. This remarkable departure from his previous works has been hailed by Kirkus Reviews as a "novel of horrific beauty, where death is the only truth".

McCarthy, a New York Times best-selling author, is a past recipient of the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. He is widely considered one of America's greatest writers.

©2006 M-71, Ltd. (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC

Critic Reviews

"McCarthy's prose retains its ability to seduce...and there are nods to the gentler aspects of the human spirit." (The New Yorker) "One of McCarthy's best novels, probably his most moving and perhaps his most personal...Every moment of The Road is rich with dilemmas that are as shattering as they are unspoken...McCarthy is so accomplished that the reader senses the mysterious and intuitive changes between father and son that can't be articulated, let alone dramatized...Both lyric and savage, both desperate and transcendent, although transcendence is singed around the edges...Tag McCarthy one of the four or five great American novelists of his generation." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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Let me wipe my tears. This is a heart wrenching, moving novel. Decades from now (if we are still here), when they look back and study the period of time when Apocalyptic novels were so popular, they will single this one out as the best. McCormick writes very descriptively, but not overly so. He never mentions Nuclear Winter, but this is as close as you will get. The landscape is a main character. It is always cold, the sun has not been seen in years, ash falls from the sky constantly, their are no animals, no fish, no plants, man is the only thing to survive.
If you liked "Room" by Emma Donoghue , you will love this. We are not given an age, but he is probably around eight. He is an innocent. He has never seen the sun. You will fall in love with him.
THE MAN, also known as Papa
One of the most caring, patient fathers you will ever meet.
Tom Stechshulte
A fantastic narrator which makes this such a moving story with his talent.

93 of 98 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


While it's true this book was, at times, grim, stark, a simple narrative in it's style I did indeed find it spellbinding. Starting slow the story continued to build in it's intensity and desperation and of course, as with all really good stories, I was sad to see it end. I found the narration extremely realistic and believable. I would, however, caution listeners that like a particular genre that this book may not fit into any particular genre or preconceived notion so for sure give the sample a listen prior to purchasing. I have listened to over 250 Audible books and this is the most entertaining book I have heard.

104 of 112 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Halifax, NS, Canada
  • 05-13-10

Horribly absorbing

Listening to this novel is something of an ordeal: McCarthy has created a disturbingly believable vision of the end of civilization. The post-apocalyptic world that he conjures up must be one of the more chilling and frightening ever invented by a novelist. Often, it's the things he doesn't say, or only hints at, that make your imagination run riot and leave you thinking long afterward. It's an extremely engrossing listen, with a slow, deliberate style that is perfect for long walks.

This is a superbly-produced audiobook. Tom Stechschulte has the perfect voice for the novel: low, growly and hard-bitten; when he delivers the protagonist's lines you can believe that you're listening to a man who's walked across the wilderness for years, and he balances despair and hope in the man's voice to moving effect. But Stechschulte is also able to differentiate the characters, sounding genuinely young and innocent when performing the boy. McCarthy's often portentous style could have sounded artficial and preachy if done badly, but Stechschulte speaks every word with absolute conviction. It's a powerful acting performance by a true craftsman.

36 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Oh my goodness

In the world of literature, Cormac McCarthy is a God among men. Unfortunately, his name isn't exactly as popular as it ought to be. Here is a man who lives his life at the pool where we all go to find our words, and yet this last week was the first time I'd ever heard of him and it took considerable searching to find a book by him that I was willing to take a chance on. I'm disappointed (and terribly so) that I haven't read more of his books, but we'll get there, I assure you. The Road, McCarthy's latest book, takes place in a post mass-destruction event (Nuclear War, perhaps? McCarthy never elaborates, and it doesn't seem terribly necessary) era, and it focuses on a father and son who realize as winter is coming on that despite the father's ongoing illness, they have to travel south to the warmer coast, where the "father" (I keep calling him that, because McCarthy never actually names him in the book) hopes to find more food and warmer weather. I know, reading my own description of the book's premise now, that it doesn't <i>sound</i> terribly interesting, but look, I'm begging you. Buy the book. Just buy it. Buy it on audio tape (my personal favorite way to devour a good book. The right narrator can make all the difference, as it does in this book). Look, one knows subconsciously that we've heard every word that will be used in a book before we ever pick it up. It's the mastery of putting those words together in such a way that makes the reader feel as though they've never heard any one of the words, ever, ever before. It is in this sense that McCarthy is such a genius. I was marveling at the fashion in which he used simple phrases like "the boy" and "the man". <i>He's that good</i>. I'd make just about any excuse to listen to the lyrical and beautiful style that Cormac writes in again, and I'm sure I'll do it soon.

111 of 125 people found this review helpful

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  • Lee
  • Kingsburg,, CA, United States
  • 03-21-07

very moving

OK, so nothing McCarthy writes is an easy emotional read.

Road is tough, emotion-filled, desparate, and loving tribute to the love of father and son in the worst of all possible situations: after the end of the world in nuclear winter.

Father: the man.
Son: the boy.

McCarthy never names his two main characters: they are the man and the boy. Even without names few characters in fiction by any writer have as much character and passion.

Like "road" novels, movies, and stories before, "The Road" is a trek from one place to another filled with dangers encountered or avoided. What sets this apart from the rest is the profound meditation on family and love.

73 of 82 people found this review helpful

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  • Chad
  • Louisville, KY, USA
  • 11-30-09

An unflinching portrait of the apocalypse

The prose in this book is almost lyrical. It is so utterly minimalistic that you stop to wonder how so much meaning can be packed into the briefest of phrases. The Road is one of the most depressing books I've ever read, because the picture it paints is so terrifyingly plausible. There are layers upon layers here, which bear repeat readings. The perspective focuses on the fragile but strong relationship between a father and son, and wisely does not venture beyond it. The catastrophe that ended their world is never named or explained, which makes sense: How would survivors of such a calamity even really know what happened without TV, without the buttresses of civilization? Full of haunting imagery that McCarthy presents largely free of opinion and merely lets "be," this book will stay in your head for weeks after you finish it. Required reading for anyone interested in post-apocalyptic ideas, and anyone who ever loved their father. Simply outstanding; this is one of my top five favorite books ever.

32 of 36 people found this review helpful

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Father and Son

I have listened to nearly 200 books. This book is as good as Memories of Running, The Kite Runner, and the Life of Pi. I have two sons, and this book perfectly captures the powerful connection between father and son. The writing is terse and gripping. If your lip doesn't start to quiver at the end of the book, you are made of stone.

You won't regret using a credit on this book.

46 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • Barry
  • Katy, TX, United States
  • 11-25-09

I loved this book

I like McCarthy's writing style, but its never been better than in The Road. The setting is a bleak future, a man and his boy holding on to each other despite having absolutely nothing to live for. The story moves along well, with McCarthy's brilliant prose, but the bleak atmosphere is not something all will appreciate.
Many criticize this book because of the lack of sophisticated dialog. In fact, a man and his son travelling along a road in the cold of winter probably would not have many deep, philosophical discussions.
The story is simple, but it's what McCarthy does with it that gives its complexity.
There are some moments in the story that are some of the most memorable I've ever read; particularly the man's remembrance of the final conversation he had with his wife.
The author manages to introduce a fair amount of realistic suspense into the story. I cringed at what the man found in the basement of that house...
McCarthy is one of the most brilliant writers, and he is at his absolute best here. But you'll probably either love it or hate it.
Oh yeah, Tom Stechschulte's narration is perfect for this book.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Taryn
  • Suffern, NY, United States
  • 09-27-08

Will touch your soul

The first time I listened to this book I stopped after about 3o min because it seemed so boring and the subject so depressing. A friend told me to give it another chance and so I did. I am glad that I listened. First,the narration is perfect, each word clearly spoken with just the right intonations. The writing was beautiful and made me think long and hard about my life, my family, my own spirituality and beliefs. It touched my soul.

26 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Not very good

I was sorely disappointed in "The Road". I have read other Cormac McCarthy books and liked them. However "The Road" is not enjoyable. It is not a good read and it is not a good story.

It was boring and pointless. I listened to the whole book waiting for some payoff but it never came, which, I should have expected as the entire book was just a rambling dialogue.

Some people love this book but I did not find anything in it redeeming.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • GC
  • 11-01-10

An Excellent Audiobook

Forget the recent film, this is the real deal. A father and his son travel a road leading towards the South - and a respite from the winter cold.
However, this is a post-apocalyptic world they traverse; the atmosphere full of ash, no plants growing and all animals and most humans dead. Most of the people who remain have turned into savages - a real state of nature where human life is 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.'
This book makes you ask questions about yourself - could you survive in such an environment? How would you behave towards others?
McCarthy's spare writing style is well suited to this type of narrative and it is superbly read by Tom Stechschulte.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • SKA
  • 09-20-09

Perfect for the road - or anywhere else

McCarthy's book makes outstanding listening. I was fearful before buying this having read some of his previous books, which are occasionally tough going in their style. But The Road is brilliantly sparse - clipped, original and vivid imagery and a compelling narrative which never explans itself and just keeps you following. McCarthy is a master at avoiding the cliched descriptions of some (many, most) authors and this is the finest example of this, in my humble opinion.
The narration is even and atmospheric, with a compelling delivery - just like the story itself.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Suzanne Martin
  • 08-23-11


I was in tears at the end of this book - I felt like I was right there at the end with he Son and Father, and I knew them so well it was like saying goodbye to friends. The story is so incredibly well written, you are immediately drawn in to the story and I can picture the landscape so vividly in my mind that I am not sure if I should watch the film adaptation or not. I could very easily have listened to this book all in one sitting, but I had to sleep sometime!

Other reviewers have mentioned the lack of chapter breaks, but I think that this is natural to the story - you are seeing through the eyes of the Son or Father, and they are not writing a novel, so they wouldn't break off from their battle for survival to start a new paragraph!

A special mention must go to the excellent narration, which was perfectly paced and judged throughout.

I found this book to be a rare example of being worthy of all the praise I have heard heaped upon it.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Ellepeapatz
  • 07-18-08

Poetic and thought provoking.

Having read the 2 previous reviews a number of times I was put off listening to this. At the recommendation of a friend I finally took the plunge - I wish I had done so ages ago.

The conversational style and poetic nature make it perfect for audible. The narrator sounded just as I imagined the Father would. I listened whenever I could and looked forward to the next instalment. Occasionally my heart rate rose in anticipation of on-coming violence but overall the story is beautiful. It's biblical themes and believable imaginings of post apocalyptic America are thought provoking.

I rarely listen to anything twice but I will make an exception with this.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Jo Franklin
  • 08-09-15

Heartbreaking and amazing

Seriously heartbreaking. What a story. Great direction and narration too! The voices were really well done :)

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian Garstang
  • 07-07-14

So Desolate, So Miserable, But So Good!

What made the experience of listening to The Road the most enjoyable?

The story painted a picture of a future so bleak it defines the apocalypse genre... The reader did a great job defining the characters and emotions.

What did you like best about this story?

Great story, short running time and engaging characters.

Have you listened to any of Tom Stechschulte’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, but I will be looking at his other books

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Pretty much!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gregory
  • 05-23-08

a chilling vision of the future

I suspect that a lot of people coming to The Road have, like myself, been introduced to McCarthy thanks to the recent film adaptation of No Country for Old Men, and so this is probably a good reference point.

No Country received near universal critical acclaim, but in my experience audience reaction was a little more mixed. Sure, plenty (including myself) agreed with the critics, but many seemed to think the desolate speech, settings, lack of truly cataclysmic events, and the closing dream sequence were entirely off-putting.

Well, all of the above factors are present in The Road, in a far greater density than in No Country. Our lead character is in a similar mould to Tommy Lee Jones with his slow, considered speech, there is the lack of a traditional climax, and the story starts with a dream sequence to rival that in No Country.

The story follows ?The Man? and ?The Boy? as they travel a road across the southern United States attempting to get to the coast following an unknown apocalyptic event. Needless to say, our travellers encounter both natural and human challenges in this desolate world and these are the main focus. It is worth noting here that, again like No Country, some of these encounters involve extreme violence and extremely distressing images; those of a nervous disposition should certainly beware.

From an Audible point of view, the book is of a manageable length and very well narrated. Despite this I do wonder if the inability to dwell on some of McCarthy?s topics means that something lost in the transition from page to wave; perhaps the forced pacing a narrator gives makes up for this, I don?t know. Finally, I always prefer chapters in audiobooks as they allow for a natural breaking point, and these are lacking here.

Overall, if you enjoyed No Country you will get something worthwhile from this and it is certainly worth your time. The opposite of course also applies, and at least for some, this is worth considering

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 02-19-10

Excellent adaptation

I felt the narrator's voice took a little getting used to but, once I had, this was an enthralling tale of a great book. the inherent difficulties of conveying the book in voice were extremely well tackled through a measured narration. The different characters were well handled. The denouement was incredibly moving.

Al in all, a superb adaptation: highly recommended.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • John Cornwell
  • 01-04-17

The road is a strange and wonderful story.

This is a strange and wonderful story. At times sad but ultimately a story of hope. Brilliantly read and keeps you interested until the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ALP
  • 11-18-16

Not sure I "got" it...

A lot of reviewers have said they don't understand why this won the Pulitzer Prize and I think that saying this is a bit extreme. This is a very powerfully written book, encompassing moral issues seen through the eyes of the young and the old in a very "grey" landscape. However for all of its emotive sections... the ending left me a little empty.

For all of its power, I have no idea what I'm supposed to take away from this story. The book took me out of the comfort zone of my usual listens, so I have no idea whether I'm an uncultured philistine or just finished an OK book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • emmoff
  • 11-17-16

The high bar of dystopian fiction

The sparse, minimal prose add greatly to the haunting effect of this novel. Loved the narration. Did I mention bleak?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Shayne Jackson
  • 01-26-18


Absolutely outstanding narration to capture the essence of survival and ultimate loss through the words of this fantastically written novel. 5🌟

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-23-18


I loved this book, and Stechschulte's narration is gorgeous. 100% recommend for any lover of McCarthy, or lover of truly great literature

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  • Rich
  • 12-04-17

Better post-apocalyptic stories are out there.

Not a bad book, but in my opinion the lack of focus on developing the characters and the tedius dialogue wore away at my desire to keep reading. The video game The Last of Us is similar in many ways to this story, but done far better in crucial areas. If it doesn't grab you in the first hour, this probably isn't the book for you.

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  • Maracai
  • 10-12-17

A well narrated exodus

Cormac McCarthy's control over language and imagery is incredulously satisfying. His affinity for implication and depiction of character and scenery alike feel vividly and deliciously authentic. A well crafted apocalyptic tale of a father and his son rich with realism and plot points that will have you unnerved at some points, and genuinely smiling at what entails.
Tom Stechschulte performs incredibly, breathing life into Cormac McCarthy's characters with a well rounded performance and perfect pacing. This is an audiobook that will have you immersed in every word.

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  • Robert Stockton
  • 06-25-17

Bleak and poetic supported with just enoigh Hope!

So incredible! You won't be disappointed... or romanced. I loved the contrast of the sumptuous descriptive language against the desolate landscapes, plots and dialogue.

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  • Andy Crawford
  • 04-25-17

Fantastic. Brutal, bleak, painful. But fantastic

Finished in 2 sittings. Could not turn this off. Incredible book. Most realistic dialogue I've ever read. And the most brutal, bleak, uncompromising narrative as well. Highly recommend.

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  • Attila
  • 07-01-16

Soul destroyingly good

You don't exactly consume this book punching the air. However the fact this book creates such strong feelings is how you know the author succeeded to bring to you something special beyond the Harry Potters of the world.
It doesn't have much plot, however the book is like a long poem that all the time states something true and will strike a cord with most people..
Also its post apocalyptic however you don't need to be a fan of this genre to enjoy the book.

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  • Cassandra
  • 05-31-16

A Moving, Thought Provoking Story

I had to listen to this book for a literature class, but I am so glad I did.

Beautifully and honestly narrated, this novel is captivating and thought provoking. The narrator really did an amazing job. I thoroughly recommend this book.

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  • Adrian P Reid
  • 09-26-17

don't do it

i've read a lot of books but none did i struggle to finish like this one. not at any moment in the story was i interested. it progresses from one bleak moment to the next and not in a good way. how they make a movie out of this tripe has got me.
read at your own peril.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful