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364 of 376 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic children's story that is too good for kids
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...
Published on December 27, 2004 by Lawrance M. Bernabo

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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watership Down, the Thoughts of a Seventh Grader
Watership Down, The Thoughts of a 7th Grader
Watership down is a very different novel that any I have ever read. I like how Richard Adams added suspense and made you want to cheer for the rabbits at times like when they are escaping from Efrafa. I will not lie, I thought that some parts of the book were very uneventful. When they left the very first warren I think...
Published on August 14, 2003 by Caroline Bernstein


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364 of 376 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic children's story that is too good for kids, December 27, 2004
By 
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. Lockley's "The Private Life of the Rabbit" in order to keep his rabbits real. But beyond the way rabbits live in nature Adams provides them with a history and a culture, represented not only in the stories they tell of El-ahrairah (the Prince with a Thousand Enemies), but their beliefs in Frith the lord sun, and their simple games such as bob-stones. When confronted with sticky situations they are able to use their ingenuity to come up with surprising solutions that are still within the realm of possibility for real rabbits. I always liked the way Hazel, Blackberry and the others have to work out these puzzles, straining for a leap of intuition and cognitive insight that seems just beyond the reach of their relatively simple minds. So while these rabbits are capable of doing more than others of their kind, Adams keeps their efforts remarkable rather than magical.

We also pick up a few choice words from the language of the rabbits (e.g., "silflay" is to go above ground to feed, "homba is a fox), which ends up paying off with one of my favorite moments in the book when Bigway utters a simple but effective curse. The lesson of the story is clearly that bigger does not mean better, for Hazel is neither the strongest nor the smartest of the rabbits that he leads, but he had the best qualities of leadership. Each of the rabbits that join Hazel on the quest to find Watership Down and build a new life there offers something to the ground, and the distinctive personalities that Adams creates for each of them adds to the novel as well.

Of all the books that I have that I like to pick up from time to time and read again my favorite parts, "Watership Down" is the oldest. As a children's story is it simply one that is too good for most children, but without the deep allegorical elements that afflict so many other great children's stories. Perhaps that is why this novel has become so beloved, because it speaks to the child in all of us and the simple virtues that we all want the world to embody. Having read the book again from start to finish, I was not surprised to find that it is still as good as I thought it was when I first read it many years ago.
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131 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD, March 20, 2004
By 
B. Merritt "filmreviewstew.com" (WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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.
One other thing that struck me about reading this book (even years later) is that there are so many things discussed in it of an adult nature; rabbit miscarriages, battles, sexual connotations, death and dying, all are covered within these simple pages. And it's done so effortlessly (thank you Mr. Adams), the story's flow is NEVER interrupted.
This book was first published in 1972 (a limited release no less) in England; the publisher wasn't sure if it would be well received since it really wasn't a children's tale, nor adult literature. Thank GOD they took a chance on it. If they hadn't, we would surely have been denied a true literary classic.
A+ rating.
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100 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I ain't no Siskel --This is the best darn book I ever read!, December 1, 1999
By 
Danny Smith (Beattyville, Kentucky) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Watership Down (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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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It rarely gets better than this, July 11, 2000
I first read this book back in 1990 (at the age of 15) when I checked it out of the high-school library. Honestly, I had no idea how "talking rabbits" would keep me occupied over a long-weekend; but, coming off a one-month, up-til 2am every night reading adventure of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, I was ready to accept another recommendation from my English teacher. It's so unbelieveable how one person can actually produce such loveable characters and include them in such a detailed manner that actually makes you feel various emotions for each of them... From the hard-headed Bigwig, to the future-seeing Fiver and his wise older brother Hazel, this book offers characters that draw you into the book and do not let you even dare to take a break. Although the wonderful detail of the characters probably won't motivate you to volunteer for any "save the rabbits" organization, it might have you maneuvering your "hdrudru" down any given rural road in a more cautious manner during non-sunshine hours. And let's face it, how many of us love the book because it truly allows us to relate EVERYTHING to human life... The word "tharn" seems to be the favorite. The book is such a masterpiece that it's hard to believe anyone could pan it. There are a few flaws... the most annoying being that the name "Hazel" just doesn't seem to ring as a male. Throughout the book, I had to remind myself that Hazel was a male rabbit, and it was extremely annoying. Still, I can't justify giving this book any rating less than the best possible. The various sub-stories are so interesting and rich in detail that you'll probably find yourself reflecting back on your own life's journeys/adventures and putting yourself in the place of various characters in the story. Just when you've shed a tear of amusement for one of the characters, the book will quickly take you back to the "present-time" situation... you will actually feel a sense of security and warmness, then realize that although you were distracted along with the characters in the story, the situation still exists. It rarely gets better than this.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The modern classic children's book that is too good for kids, December 13, 2005
By 
When I went off for my first semester of college my father gave me $100 with which to buy textbooks, which certainly dates me and will once again astound my own college aged children as to what life was like in the last century. 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. Lockley's "The Private Life of the Rabbit" in order to keep his rabbits real. But beyond the way rabbits live in nature Adams provides them with a history and a culture, represented not only in the stories they tell of El-ahrairah (the Prince with a Thousand Enemies), but their beliefs in Frith the lord sun, and their simple games such as bob-stones. When confronted with sticky situations they are able to use their ingenuity to come up with surprising solutions that are still within the realm of possibility for real rabbits. I always liked the way Hazel, Blackberry and the others have to work out these puzzles, straining for a leap of intuition and cognitive insight that seems just beyond the reach of their relatively simple minds. So while these rabbits are capable of doing more than others of their kind, Adams keeps their efforts remarkable rather than magical.

We also pick up a few choice words from the language of the rabbits (e.g., "silflay" is to go above ground to feed, "homba is a fox), which ends up paying off with one of my favorite moments in the book when Bigway utters a simple but effective curse. The lesson of the story is clearly that bigger does not mean better, for Hazel is neither the strongest nor the smartest of the rabbits that he leads, but he had the best qualities of leadership. Each of the rabbits that join Hazel on the quest to find Watership Down and build a new life there offers something to the ground, and the distinctive personalities that Adams creates for each of them adds to the novel as well.

Of all the books that I have that I like to pick up from time to time and read again my favorite parts, "Watership Down" is the oldest. As a children's story is it simply one that is too good for most children, but without the deep allegorical elements that afflict so many other great children's stories. Perhaps that is why this novel has become so beloved, because it speaks to the child in all of us and the simple virtues that we all want the world to embody. Having read the book again from start to finish, I was not surprised to find that it is still as good as I thought it was when I first read it many years ago.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Classic, December 6, 1999
At the age of 9, this was the first novel I ever read, and as a result it became the yardstick by which I judge all other novels. Simply put, it is side by side with "Gone With the Wind" as my all time favorite. I have never since read a more vividly imagined work than this world of rabbits in the English countryside. Straightforward Hazel, brash Bigwig and frail but visionary Fiver lead their ragtag band of outcast rabbits from their doomed home warren through an unbelievable series of situations and adventures. The blood in this book did not bother me even in the third grade, as it was not gratuitous or meant to shock, but rather to illustrate that the rabbit, a creature that we all tend to view as cuddly, is a part of the sometimes violent world of nature. Life is hard for even the cutest, most appealing of animals in the wild, whose every moment is taken up with struggle for survival. I doubt that anyone who has read "Watership Down" has ever looked at rabbits the same again.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm just commenting on other peoples' reviews, March 12, 2000
By 
I scroll down this page and I see mostly 4 and 5 star ratings. Good for those who like this book, I mean, I absoluely LOVED it! But then I see some 1 and 2 ratings, and I just have to look at these reviews. I don't see any good reasons for not liking this book. All I see is, "Why base a book on rabbits?", "Would be better with humans as main characters", "hard to understand", "had to read it for school". First of all, I though this was a spectacular book, and I read it by myself, on my own, and I'm only in 7th grade! Second of all, it didn't have to be hard to understand. There was a glossary in the back of my book, and there were even footnotes! As for those who didn't understand why this was just a story about rabbits- It's called IMAGINATION! What kind of boring books would we have if each one was about humans and real life and the same old stuff we deal with everyday? It would be terrible! And writing this book from the points of view from rabbits was a very good idea. It allowed readers to be able to see what it might be like to be in the shoes (or paws) of someone else. To everyone who doesn't like this book, you have to look deeper than the words! THIS IS A VERY GOOD BOOK! (sorry about the errors in this review)
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic and beloved novel of leadership and adventure!, April 8, 2004
By 
Roger J. Buffington (Huntington Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is a timeless and much-loved novel of leadership, struggle, and adventure! A group of individuals, dissatisfied with the government of their "country," and receiving prophesies of its doom, decide to leave and start a colony elsewhere. The individuals, of course, are rabbits, who are confronted with all the dangers of the "elil." The "elil" means their enemies, known to the rabbits as "the thousand" meaning the infinite number of enemies, i.e. foxes, hawks, etc. who prey on rabbits. The most dangerous elil, of course, is man.
This is a wonderful novel that discusses the nature of leadership, teamwork, individual achievement, and struggle, as the protagonists seek to set up a new colony free of dangers from man as well as "elil" and even other hostile rabbits. Their leader, Hazel, is neither the strongest (Bigwig is that) or the cleverest (Blackberry is that) but nevertheless we come to see why he is the emergent leader to whom the others look for guidance and inspiration. This is a fine study in leadership.
The novel never loses sight of its main objective, which is to entertain. This is a fascinating, well-written tale. The storyline moves at a brisk pace, punctuated with interesting episodes of struggle and insight, which always add to, rather than distract from, the main plot. The reader will come to care deeply about the various individual characters of the novel, cheer them in success and root for them in adversity. Adams' prose is superb. This book is a pleasure to read.
This is a novel that adults will appreciate and young readers will love. It is indeed written at an adult level, but Adams' writing is so clear and crisp that younger readers will also appreciate and enjoy the novel. This is a timeless and classic novel that belongs in one's personal library and which most readers will enjoy reading repeatedly from time to time, and share with the younger readers in the family.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watership Down (or For Lack of a Better Review Title), August 28, 2003
By 
Matt Hronas (Sandpoint, Idaho) - See all my reviews
When I stumble across a book or movie that I enjoy, I'll often come here and check out what other people have to say about it. Reading the one-star reviews often opens me up to the faults of the book or the movie, which I usually tend to block out while I'm reading or watching it. I must say that for Watership Down, that is not the case. Of course, Watership Down is not perfect (no book is), but I must admit I find some of the reasons given by one-star reviewers for their dislike (and, in some cases, even outright hatred) of this book dubious, to say the least.
One reviewer harped that the book was unrealistic because it had talking rabbits. Um, that's probably why it's FICTION.
Another reviewer complained that those who liked this book were insulting the opinions of those who didn't. I intend to insult no one with this review (and, if by some chance I do, I apologize), and I'm sure that the offenses several of the people who gave this book high ratings were inadvertent (though I'm positive the majority were intended, and I am sorry for that), but a lot of the one-star reviewers weren't exactly polite. I, for one, take offense at being called a weirdo, a person with no life, someone with a simple mind, a person who likes rabbits way "to" much, and an "intence" animal-lover, among other insults. For the information of all those concerned, I do happen to like animals very much, but why anyone would say this book is only for animal-lovers is beyond me. Rabbits tearing each other to shreds doesn't exactly sound like PETA's cup of tea.
One reviewer said he gave up on the book because he read to page seven and nothing had happened yet. Uh, I don't know about you, but when I'm on page SEVEN in a book almost FIVE HUNDRED pages long, I don't exactly expect to be on the edge of my seat.
A very common complaint about Watership Down was that it was boring and there were too many descriptions. As I recall, one reviewer claimed that descriptions of the grass the rabbits were eating lasted ten pages. Quite obviously, this is an exaggeration. Personally, I never noticed a description longer than half a page. If you want to read a book saturated with seemingly endless descriptions of the landscape, read The Lord of the Rings. While I love the story, I have never been able to finish the book.
One reviewer claimed that Watership Down was "long and all about talking rabbits using words only an english professor would know." On the contrary, I didn't find too many so-called "big words" in there, and my vocabulary is modest at best. Just a difference of opinion, I guess.
Another thing I noticed about the one-star reviews is that the majority of them appear to be by children who were forced to read the book and found it "boring." I find this unfortunate, because if these kids had been allowed to wait until their reading comprehension skills were developed well enough to tackle Watership Down, many of them might have enjoyed it.
Finally, the one complaint that really irked me was that the reviewer couldn't "believe the author wasted so much time writing this book!" It calls to mind a reviewer of The Lord of the Rings who claimed Tolkien had way too much time on his hands and insinuated that he was a loser for laboring so long to create the imaginary people, places, and languages of Middle-earth. Please, people, tell us as many faults as you can find with the book, but don't insult the author. I, for one, am quite glad that Mr. Adams "wasted so much time" writing this book. I guess that makes me an "intence animal lover who has no life" and "likes rabbits way to much."
Of course, all of the above has been my very humble opinion. Again, I did not intend to insult anyone with this review (which turned out to be not so much a review as a rebuttal). I respect the opinions of all those who did not like Watership Down, even those opinions which were expressed in an insulting manner. Please forgive anything I may have said that may have suggested I held some negative view of your opinion. I don't want to be responsible for damaging your ego, or causing any harm to your mental state. We are all friends here, and I hope that this unfortunate difference of opinion has not caused you any distress.
Please do not let the reviews on amazon.com persuade you one way or the other; read Watership Down for yourself and form your own opinions, as you should do for any book you think you might enjoy. As for me, I'm off to read the sequel.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The gift of rabbits and what they taught me, June 28, 1999
By A Customer
When my sixth grade teacher put this book on the required reading list, I cringed at the thought of reading all 400+ pages of it. The talking rabbits I could deal with, but over 400 pages worth? Little did I know how involved I would get into the lives of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and the rest.
Ever since, I've read and re-read Watership Down. Every summer. For five summers now. And I've enjoyed it increasingly. As I took more history classes and studied human nature, I began to draw parallels between the lives of the rabbits and the different types of warrens with examples from real life and history. Efrafa is a dictatorship, Threarah represented those who were destroyed because they could not or would not change, and Hazel is a true leader. He could inspire his bunch of hlessil to keep moving, kept their spirits up, and always knew when to ask for help.
I will always be thankful to Richard Adams for this insight to humanity...through rabbits, no less. It revealed connections and character traits about real life that I undoubtedly would have learned but definitely much later in life. So I will continue to re-read my copy, all the while finding new nuggets of truth scattered around like the rabbit holes of Watership Down.
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Watership Down (Puffin Books)
Watership Down (Puffin Books) by Richard Adams (Paperback - February 1, 2007)
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