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Watership Down: A Novel Paperback – November 1, 2005

Book 1 of 2 in the Watership Down Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Watership Down has been a staple of high-school English classes for years. Despite the fact that it's often a hard sell at first (what teenager wouldn't cringe at the thought of 400-plus pages of talking rabbits?), Richard Adams's bunny-centric epic rarely fails to win the love and respect of anyone who reads it, regardless of age. Like most great novels, Watership Down is a rich story that can be read (and reread) on many different levels. The book is often praised as an allegory, with its analogs between human and rabbit culture (a fact sometimes used to goad skeptical teens, who resent the challenge that they won't "get" it, into reading it), but it's equally praiseworthy as just a corking good adventure.

The story follows a warren of Berkshire rabbits fleeing the destruction of their home by a land developer. As they search for a safe haven, skirting danger at every turn, we become acquainted with the band and its compelling culture and mythos. Adams has crafted a touching, involving world in the dirt and scrub of the English countryside, complete with its own folk history and language (the book comes with a "lapine" glossary, a guide to rabbitese). As much about freedom, ethics, and human nature as it is about a bunch of bunnies looking for a warm hidey-hole and some mates, Watership Down will continue to make the transition from classroom desk to bedside table for many generations to come. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Spellbinding...Marvelous...A taut tale of suspense, hot pursuit and derring-do."
-- Chicago Tribune

"A classic...A great book."
-- Los Angeles Times

"Quite marvelous...A powerful new vision of the great chain of being."
-- The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743277708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743277709
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,518 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard George Adams (born 9 May, 1920) is an English novelist, author of Watership Down, Shardik, Maia, The Plague Dogs, Traveller, Tales from Watership Down and many other books.

He originally began telling the story of Watership Down to his two daughters during a long car journey, and they insisted he write it down. When Watership Down was finally published, after many rejections, it sold over a million copies in record time in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Watership Down has become a modern classic and won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 1972. To date it has sold over 8 million copies and been translated into many languages, including Finnish, Hebrew and Chinese.

Richard's goal is to tell a good story, ideally one so good you can't put it down! Three of his novels have been filmed so far, and he has just completed a story about a new character for very young children. Watch this space!

Richard currently lives in Hampshire, England. He has six grandchildren. He has written about his childhood and youth, including the time he served in the army in World War II, in 'The Day Gone By'.

Customer Reviews

I had trouble putting this book down, I just wanted to keep reading.
The story of the hardships and triumphs of a group of rabbits as they carve a new life for themselves was wonderfully told.
The greatness of "Watership Down" rests on the sense of realism that Adams brings to his story wild rabbits.
Lawrance Bernabo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

415 of 429 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I went off for my first semester of college my father gave me $100 with which to buy textbooks, which certainly dates me. After buying everything for my classes I had enough money left over to buy a hard cover copy of "Watership Down" by Richard Adams for $6.95, which for people who love books is certainly a great way of representing the ravages of inflation over the years. I decided to read a chapter of "Watership Down" each night before going to bed, thereby marking the beginning of my obsession with reading a chapter of something each day that has nothing to do with school. When my dorm roommate became as hooked on the story as much as I was he and I would read chapters aloud. Fifty days I got to the book's epilogue with the same sort of sadness that it was all over that I experienced getting to the end of the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Living in the Sandleford Warren with its Chief Rabbit and Owsla maintaining a comfortable social order, Hazel and his little brother Fiver are content enough. But Fiver has the gift of prophecy, and when he warns that the warren has to be abandoned right away or they are all going to die, Hazel and a small circle of friends believe him and leave despite the fact that have no idea where they are going. Fiver envisions a great high place where they can be happy and safe, but there are a series of imposing obstacles to overcome, from not only humans and predators, but other wild rabbits as well. Consequently the basic story of "Watership Down" is the ancient quest for home, although in this case it is a new home that represents a wild rabbit's idea of utopia.

The greatness of "Watership Down" rests on the sense of realism that Adams brings to his story wild rabbits. Adams studied Lapine life in R. M.
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149 of 158 people found the following review helpful By B. Merritt VINE VOICE on March 20, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is heartwarming (in the extreme for me) to see so many glowing and informative reviews about this incredible book.
I read Watership Down when I was in junior high and remembered liking it very much. Then life got busy and I pretty much forgot about it. But occasionally I'd see it on the bookshelves at my local library or bookstore and an itch would start in the back of my mind, telling me that I should revisit its magical pages. So this Winter, I did . . .
How wonderful it is to visit such a fully realized world created by the human mind, but set in an anthropomorphic background (and foreground, too!).
The story is about a band of rabbits---Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, Dandelion, and Bluebell---who set off from their comfy holes to find a new rabbit warren on the plains of Watership Down. They leave their original warren because Fiver (a small, brooding rabbit with 'The Sight') has a vision of it being destroyed. Not surprisingly, soon after they leave, they find out that the warren HAD been destroyed by big hrududil (tractors) that dug up the ground and killed all those who remained behind.
The trials and tribulations of Hazel and his band of rogue rabbits carries the story along at a leisurely pace, not rushing to get the story out, giving rabbit history and mythology a few well-deserved pages, too.
After Hazel and his fellow bunnies set up their new warren on Watership Down, though, they find that they have a serious problem: no does (females)! Without does, their new warren is doomed to failure, so they set about trying to locate some breeding stock. But what they encounter is a terrible warren known as Efrafa run by the overbearing and callous General Woundwort. The battle between Watership Down and Efrafa is terrible and exciting reading, even for adults.
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128 of 137 people found the following review helpful By Danny Smith on December 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A lot of reviewers, teachers, and other people that like to make themselves sound intellectually mature, would tell you that in order to enjoy Watership Down, or any other book for that matter, is to read deep meanings in to every aspect of the book. Please, do yourself a favor and don't torture yourself in this way. Although it has all the characteristics of a great book, a modern day classic even, and could be full of sybolism and irony, I feel that it is best enjoyed by taking it for what it is: A great story about a group of rabbit's adventure, failure, success, self-discovery, and their long, journey. The story is set in the English countryside, with great descriptions of the surroundings as well as the rabbits and their lifestyle. It is told from a rabbits point of view, but one that knows human behavior as well, and somehow Adams makes the whole thing realistic. The book is about a group of rabbits that decide to leave their home warren after Fiver, a sort of psychic rabbit, tells them that danger is on the way. And so they begin a voyage that will change their lives forever. Along the way theyt encounter an evil warren, crows, a fox, rivers, a rabbit farm, and countless other dangers. Their final destination is a sort of "rabbit heaven," a beautiful, safe, secure piece of l;and known as Watership Down. Also included in the book is a whole new language that Adams somehow brings the reader to understand, and tales of how Frith, the sun god, was so impressed with El-Arairah (a folk hero) that he granted him wonderful boons. When I was first told of the book I thought it would be a cute, kids book. I was completely wrong. This is a mature book that would probably be best suited for middle-school students through adults. I would recommend this book to anyone that isn't afraid to spend a little time, and become fully engrossed in a wonderful tale.
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