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Watership Down (Watership Down #1)

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  275,539 Ratings  ·  8,885 Reviews
Set in England's Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predato ...more
Paperback, 476 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Charles Scribner's Sons (first published 1972)
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Dan
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Brian Bigwig should have been the natural leader of the warren he was biggest, and strongest, but he and other recognized that being the biggest, strongest,…moreBigwig should have been the natural leader of the warren he was biggest, and strongest, but he and other recognized that being the biggest, strongest, and most outgoing doesn't make the best leader, and they naturally followed Hazel and Bigwig only lived due to Hazel's brilliance in defeating the razor wire trap that almost killed Bigwig.(less)
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard KiplingThe Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix PotterWatership Down by Richard AdamsCharlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteMisty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Animal Characters--Dogs, Cats, and Others
3rd out of 206 books — 25 voters
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Very Favorite Books
217th out of 628 books — 485 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rico Suave
Dec 04, 2013 Rico Suave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people, rabbits, not for sailors.
Shelves: ricosbooks
oh man, this book totally tricked me! I got a bad haircut one day so I needed to lay low for a few weeks ("Supercuts", my ass! Liars!). I called two of my hardest, most straight-up thug homies (Zachary and Dustin) to bring me some of their books and this was one of them. I had just watched a show on A&E about WWII naval battles so I couldn't WAIT to read Watership Down! I love sea stories, "man overboard!" and "off the port bow!" and "aye aye cap'n!" all that stuff so I pulled my hat down an ...more
John
Sep 01, 2007 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like a good story or who have a vague interest in rabbits
Shelves: favorites
Ok, so it's a book about a bunch of rabbits traveling through a small stretch of English countryside. As such, it doesn't seem like something that would appeal to anyone but a preteen. But the fact of the matter is this is a great story, full of rich characters, a deep (if occasionally erroneous) understanding of things lapine, and it can reach moments of depth and profundity that the movie of the same title does not even begin to hint at. I was actually introduced to this book in one of the bes ...more
Bookworm Sean
Mar 17, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humankind and rabbits
I don’t give a shit what Richard Adams says about his book because it simply isn’t true. According to him, in the preface of my edition, this is just a story about rabbits. Its intended purpose was to entertain his children in the car, that’s fair enough, but he also says there is no intentional allegorical meaning whatsoever. I find this hard to believe. The allegories in here are rich and meaningful. They don’t just allude to simple problems. They’re complex and purposeful. So if he didn’t int ...more
Lyndz
Dec 04, 2013 Lyndz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this book about 2 months ago, got through the first 10 pages or so and I was not interested in continuing. I put it down. In all honesty, it seemed like it was going to be too babyish for me. I mean come on, bunnies though? Seriously?


About a week ago I got to a point where I didn’t have anything else to read so there I was, staring pensively at my obese bookshelf, thinking about reading Lord of the Rings for the 12th time, when I noticed Watership Down poking its cute little bunny fac
...more
Terry
Sep 17, 2012 Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
I think there are generally two classes of people when it comes to this book: those who see beyond the surface and love it, and those who just don't get it and wonder how anyone can praise a silly book about talking rabbits.

Given my rating of it, I obviously fall into the former group. On the surface this is an engaging tale about a group of outcast rabbits who leave their warren at the promptings of one of their fellows who is able to foresee a great catastrophe on the horizon. Their adventures
...more
Delee
All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.

This is my all time favorite book...although some of my love for this book may be an emotional attachment to the time in my life when it was read for the first time. Before this book, my parents used to read to me at bedtime on my
...more
Nataliya
Some books have an amazingly unexplainable ability to transcend the purpose of their creation and take a leap into being an instant timeless classic.
“All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.”
Watership Down began as an impromptu entertainment for Adams' two young daught
...more
Jason Koivu
Oct 16, 2015 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
DAMN YOU, WATERSHIP DOWN, STOP MAKING ME CRY!!!

When I was in school, the teachers played the movie version (the one with Art Garfunkel songs, Zero Mostel as the bird, and a bevy of well-respected English actors providing voice-overs) of this epic drama of courageous rabbits and us kids just bawled. The sadness, she was too much!

It's been 30, maybe 35 years on since then and I figured, despite the tears, I have fond memories of the story, so why not finally read the book? Well I did and I cried a
...more
Manny
Feb 20, 2009 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: story-review
It's got nothing much to do with this book, but I want to tell my rabbit story. Feel free to disbelieve me if you must, but it's actually true. I know the person it happened to quite well, though I have changed names and other particulars in order to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.

So, many years ago, my friend (let's call her Mary) used to have a dog (let's call him Rover). She lived next door to a family whose five year old girl (let's call her Anna) had a rabbit (let's call him Fluff
...more
Evgeny
Apr 19, 2016 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A group read with a bunch of Pantaloonless Buddies.

The plot of this book is fairly well-known. I will outline it anyway as yours truly was one of the dwellers under a rock who never read this novel before and had only a very vague general idea what the book was about. For starters let me just quote a blurb from it: “a stirring tale of adventure, courage, survival, and endless descriptions of every single field and meadow…” Sorry, the last part was entirely my own.

Let me start again. In case yo
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 02, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so. All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed."

When Fiver, a seer, is overcome with a vivid dream of mass destruction. He tries to convince the rabbits in charge of the validity of his vision. The
...more
Apatt
Jul 27, 2015 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
Most reviews I write just for the hell of it, for my own records and if some people like them I am just happy as a lark. For Watership Down however, I am just a little bit more ambitious. I would like to convince people who feel averse to reading a novel for children about rabbits to drop their preconception and give this book a chance. This is not a book about cute little bunnies running around eating carrots and being adorable 24/7. This is one of the most badass books I have ever read, and I ...more
Carmen
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Actually, I do not give this book a 5. It is worth much more! This book is a classic for a reason. Read it, buy it, read it to your children, give it to your children... Seriously, if you have not read this book yet, READ IT NOW. It is about rabbits. It is also about bravery, warlords, leadership, sacrifice, adventures, spies, friendship, rescue missions and so much more. This is not the first time I've read this book and it certainly won't be the last. Don't miss out on this stunning adventure! ...more
Caris
Jun 18, 2012 Caris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, bedtime-stories
Father’s Day ended a few minutes ago. The holiday has always been pretty meaningless to me. This is the first time in probably a decade that I’ve actually spent any time on the day thinking about my dad.

He was pathologically inattentive. At best, my brothers and I were servants. At worst, helpless outlets for cruelty. He would hang out with us occasionally, but it ended in fighting every time. Every year, on this day, he’d get the obligatory “World’s Greatest Dad” t-shirt or whatever. I imagine
...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Watership Down is a classic fantasy novel, written in 1972, that originated in stories told by Richard Adams to his daughters on long car drives. It's kind of a pastoral fantasy, based on anthropomorphized rabbits, who have an elaborate if primitive society. A group of rabbits leave their warren when one of them, Fiver, who has second sight, has visions of a disaster to come. They have various adventures along the way to a new home on the top of Watership Down, then more adventures as they somew ...more
Maciek
Jul 18, 2013 Maciek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I announce with trembling pleasure the appearance of a great story."

In 1972, an unknown British novelist named Richard Adams published his debut novel with a rather misleading title, Watership Down. After being rejected 13 times by various publisher it was finally accepted by Rex Collings, a one-man company which worked on a shoestring and couldn't pay Adams any advance, but had important connections in the London literary scene and made sure that it was read by everyone who mattered. Rex Col
...more
Robert
Jun 10, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
When I was very young I was taken to see this movie that my parents probably thought would have cute, comical bunnies in it. Thusly I was exposed to disturbing images of fields of blood, extreme bunny-bunny violence and weird, floaty and somehow scary black rabbits...there was also an alarmingly bad song called Bright Eyes. The whole thing was incomprehensible and scary and I didn't like it. And the song was everywhere for weeks...

Zillions of years later the scars have healed and I eventually ge
...more
Mariel
Sep 17, 2010 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: let's pretend we're bunny rabbits. we'll do it all day long
Recommended to Mariel by: Harvey
Watership Down is not a children's book. It's a everyman's book. Every animal, too. (Anyone with a pulse and a beating heart that gives a shit about what is around them.) There's a lovely intro in a newer edition about how he "wrote" it with his children (the stories started out a spur-of-the-moment thing when prompted to tell them a story). It's meant to be interactive in a makes you think and makes you feel way. I certainly lose myself in this world whenever I reread (it's funny how quickly I ...more
Michael
Masterful and enchanting, a timeless classic of children’s literature likely to be rewarding for most humans of the biped variety. I always avoided it, thinking why read some cutesy tale about goddam wimpy rabbits when I could have a glorious adventure with “The Lord of the Rings”, fight the evil French with Captain Horatio Hornblower, or be a space cadet in a Heinlein tale. Who could imagine that such fearful little vegetarian critters could work together under the right leaders to conquer thei ...more
Algernon
Jul 26, 2013 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

"Our children's children will hear a good story."
Rabbit proverb


I don't have any children of my own, but if I had, I know Watership Down would be at the top of the list of books to gift them with. On the back cover it is described as "one of the most beloved novels of our time", and for once the marketing hyperbole turns out to be justified. It would take a major Grinch to remain unmoved by the adventures of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Blackberry, Dandelion et all. These critters have managed to b
...more
Amy
Jul 30, 2014 Amy rated it did not like it
I'm 100 pages in, and this book is as boring as they come. So many indistinguishable rabbits hopping around eating various types of green things in the ground. I try to read on it during my lunch break, but I find that I'd always rather do anything than start back on this book. Is it a rule that classics have to be boring? Do books become classics because they are boring and someone has decided that it's a mark of high class to read boring books? Oh, god, please let this book get better since th ...more
John
Aug 23, 2007 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
It was the summer of 1986 when, rumaging through the long unused bedrooms of my grandfather's house, I stumbled upon the book Watership Down. At twelve, I was at that wonderful age when any book was a source of fascination rather than embarrassment, and so I sat upon my uncle's old bed and, in the dusty sunlight streaming through the window, began to read a book which would stay with me years later.

Fiver, a small and nervous rabbit, is plaugued by visions of the coming destruction of Sandleford
...more
Stepheny
Allllllllllllllmost a year ago I begged and pushed and begged and pushed politely asked Delee to read the Harry Potter series with me. As everyone knows, it’s my favorite thing in the whole wide world, closely followed by chocolate.

Well, of course she loved it- who doesn’t? (If you don’t, you may as well unfriend me and move on with your pathetically boring life). So she said to me- “Stepheny, you are making me sharing one of your all-time favorite books with me, would you be willing to read o
...more
Arah-Lynda
Apr 17, 2016 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: top
Time for a reread.....

Still a five star read.

Still ruddy brilliant.

Bunnies.....Who knew?
Werner
Sep 19, 2015 Werner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who can accept animals as protagonists,
This was a book that Barb and I read together, and both enjoyed immensely. Best-seller status isn't typically something that draws me to a book; I've actually read very few of those, because I'm aware that they usually win their status through publishing-industry hype rather than quality. But the description of this one intrigued me, and it's definitely highly original, given that virtually all of the characters are rabbits and humans appear only as minor characters (though their actions do play ...more
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
dare I say it...?
i think i may have found another favorite book...

i loved this book and the character Hazel.
he alone made me enjoy this book.
if i were to ever own a rabbit, i would name it Hazel.

and to think this book has been around and not one of my high school teachers ever mentioned this or requested us beady eyed pupils to read it.
of course i would have wanted to read about bunnies back in the day instead of Dickens and many others.

Mark
Feb 12, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rabbit lovers and anyone with a soul
Rabbits, English countryside, Adventure, some more rabbits, Murder and betrayal, heroism, another rabbit, edge of the seat - will they/won't they escape, weird alliances with non-rabbits, a few more rabbits, intimations of romance so inevitably likely to be yet more rabbits, a couple of dead rabbits and then a big scrap between a ginormous rabbit and a dog (that bit was really clever) and then ...well you can probably guess.....Come on for Heaven's sake, what is there not to like. The only down ...more
j
Jun 27, 2011 j rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BUNNIES!
If you made a Venn Diagram of the longest books I read as a pre-teen and the books I reread the most, this one would be smack dab in the middle. I've read it at least five times, which is a lot for me, and listened to the audiobook more than once on family road trips.

Despite the fact that the story is deeply silly on the face of it (a bunch of rabbits move from one field to another... wow, what an adventure...), it's actually pretty thrilling. A soothsaying crazy rabbit has visions of a rabbit d
...more
Loren
Apr 21, 2008 Loren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adapted from ISawLightningFall.blogspot.com

Watership Down has a lot in common with the ancient epics. In it, a lone warrior leads a band of harried outcasts into the wilderness in search of a home. They’re aided by a seer who can touch the future with his dreams. They face perilous quests and hair-breadth escapes, ferocious foes and desperate siege assaults. But unlike the works of Homer and Virgil, Watership Down is also about rabbits. Which is appropriate, as almost all of its characters are r
...more
Forrest
Jul 29, 2012 Forrest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to Watership Down through the TSR roleplaying game, Gamma World. Though the novel didn't scratch my teenage itch for bunnies with laser rifles blasting renegade warbots, it did scratch the itch for something a bit more meaningful, a bit deeper than that. Maybe I'm a sap, but I found some spiritual appeal in the book, particularly in Fiver's growth from near-psychotic runt to leader. I guess I saw something in myself in Fiver. Fast forward a few decades to a few weeks ago when my ...more
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Adams was born in Newbury, Berkshire. From 1933 until 1938 he was educated at Bradfield College. In 1938 he went up to Worcester College, Oxford to read Modern History. On 3 September 1939 Neville Chamberlain announced that the United Kingdom was at war with Germany. In 1940 Adams joined the British Army, in which he served until 1946. He received a class B discharge enabling him to return to Worc ...more
More about Richard Adams...

Other Books in the Series

Watership Down (2 books)
  • Tales from Watership Down

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“Animals don't behave like men,' he said. 'If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don't sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures' lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.” 495 likes
“All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.” 439 likes
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