Cormac McCarthy is the author of No Country For Old Men, All The Pretty Horses, and The Road; but before writing these three novels he was critically acclaimed as a writer's writer. Around the time he wrote Blood Meridian he was given a MacArthur Fellowship (referred to as a 'genius grant') - one of several in recognition of his writing skill.
Cormac McCarthy was born in a well-to-do family and didn't want for anything in his youth but struggled as a writer for over twenty years. All his early books met with literary success which led to him receiving several grants in his career, but none of them achieved commercial success and many went out of print. He is known to have refused teaching assignments, interviews and book readings despite his financial constraints on account of having written down everything he had to say in his work. He first achieved commercial success with All The Pretty Horses.
“There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can improved in some way, that everyone can live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.”
The book is loosely based on the diary of Samuel Chamberlain who was a veteran of the Mexican American war. It was discovered almost a century after his time and possibly contains some fictions about Chamberlain's exploits, a common exaggeration of the era.
Samuel Chamberlain's book 'My Confession: Recollections of a Rogue' chronicles his time with the Native American scalp hunting gang led by John Glanton. The gang's second-in-command was a self styled judge - Holden, from where McCarthy develops the character. Chamberlain writes about his actions - even the ones excessive for his time and circumstance, which contributed to the eventual outlawing of the Glanton gang by the Mexican government. Other than inspiring McCarthy, Chamberlain's book is a first hand source for historians which details a typical experience of a solider in the war. Though exaggeration was common in writings of the time, research into Chamberlain's book has authenticated much of his writing.
Chamberlain began his military career aged seventeen after he ran away from home to join a volunteer regiment headed for the Mexican-American war in Texas. About nineteen years later he was nominated by Abraham Lincoln for and awarded the rank of an honorary (Brevet) Brigadier for his conduct. He was a noted painter and his book has over a hundred illustrations.