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3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  24,000 Ratings  ·  869 Reviews
The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the state's most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 10th 1994 by Delta (first published 1970)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I saw this twice, once in the late 80’s and again in 1996, shortly after my husband and I got married. I loved the movie both times I saw it, even though my husband found it utterly boring and not nearly as thrilling as Southern Comfort. Over time, the scenes that stood out the most for me were the dueling banjos and the hillbilly rape.

Right after reading the book, I watched the movie a third time. The first thing I noticed was that the film was quite faithful to the bo
Pramod Nair
Aug 06, 2015 Pramod Nair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, thriller
Few novelists have claimed such an epic success with their debut novel as James Dickey did with his dramatically brilliant thriller Deliverance, set in the remote North Georgia wilderness. Dickey, who was already an accomplished poet renowned for his surrealism and eye for primal impulses prevailing in the human society, wrote ‘Deliverance’ in 1970 and it has been since regarded among the best English novels of 20th century. The book was adapted into a movie in 1972 starring Burt Reynolds and Jo ...more
Barry Pierce
Only men would think it is a good idea to go canoeing into the jungle wilderness of Georgia. If this novel were female driven it would have been about two pages long because no woman would stand for its sheer bravado-driven ridiculousness.

So four guys so canoeing in Georgia and things go wrong. They go really, really wrong. Deliverance is testosterone personified. It is a novel about men but ultimately it is an ode to masculinity. It harks back to the adventure novels that little boys would rea
Wow. I've been talking about Deliverance to all my friends, who all roll their eyes at me, because I haven't seen the movie.

This was one of the best books I've read this year. The writing is documentary style, but surprisingly lyrical. It's told from a single point of view, and works so well for description, mood, suspense, I absolutely loved it.

Am I the only person in the world who hasn't seen the movie? I'm familiar with the two most talked-about scenes. The banjo scene was beautifully writte
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Sep 23, 2014 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Probably the only way I would've appreciated this novel more would be if I were a white collar, mid-life-crisis-having family man in the 70's. That should say at least something, considering I'm not by any stretch what you would call an adventure novel reader, and haven't even remotely settled myself into a stable enough existence to warrant feelings of stagnation and suburban humdrum. My kids and my mortgage are not dragging me down enough to compel me to thrill-seek in nature or join an underg ...more
Paul Nelson
Jan 07, 2015 Paul Nelson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Paul by: Edward Lorn
First of the year and what a first, a simple, totally gripping story that resonates with power. Will Patton's narration puts you on that river, in that tree sighting the arrow with one shot at survival and this gets my highest recommendation.

Told in first person through the eyes of Ed Gentry, who with three friends attempts a breakout from suburbia with a canoe and hunting trip. Naïve, lacking the skills needed to survive, maybe but things don’t get any easier when they are approached on the riv
Philip Patrick
Feb 23, 2008 Philip Patrick rated it liked it
Recommended to Philip by: Modern Library Top 100 List
Like many of you, I imagine, I have a simple rule: read the book, then see the movie. But that didn’t happen with Deliverance. I saw the movie many years ago, and just now got to the book. At first it was hard to read the book—quite brilliant in its descriptive power—without seeing Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, and Jon Voight. But in a testament to the book, slowly they slipped away and the power of the page prevailed.

The plot is well-known: four buddies embark on a canoe trip down the a river in r
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
The book from which they made the movie that kicked off the backwoods brutality genre.

I haven't seen the movie. It probably isn't as dense with details of slants of thought and twists of mind as the novel is. On the other hand, it probably doesn't have to spend hundreds and hundreds of words describing settings.

Dickey's style is far from stripped-down or terse. It's detailed; very detailed. Often too much so for my taste, getting lost in a second-by-second description of crawling over a rock,
Aug 05, 2016 Fabian rated it liked it
The one about the city folk getting lost in the woods and subsequently raped/hunted. Confession: have never seen the film. I know its a big deal, but all I am ever faced with are the edited-for-TV sections (on TV) of the pig squeal and the torment-heavy megaambiance. The bromance comes to a thunderous halt as the friends try to makes sense of it all and desire desperately to come out alive.

It is, I will admit, pretty full of those literary premonitions any horror novel worth its salt would cont
Adam Morel
Apr 22, 2013 Adam Morel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
For over thirty years, I have avoided this story. A young man with little experience in the woods outside of a KOA campground need not soon revisit such a tale of horror and invasion. Still, the memories of the worst of it, the visual of it have stayed with me, however blurred. The albino boy with the banjo, the wildness of the river, and yes, the screams of Ned Beatty. But film has rarely if ever captured the dark beauty of nature or the hopelessness of true tragedy and so it became time to pla ...more
Some impressions of the book four months after having read it:

The book, unlike the film, is told completely from the perspective of ad agency studio artist Ed Gentry, and so there's a lot of stuff about his home, work, family and his lust for an artist's model that are completely missing from the film. The filter of having it all told by him, with his analysis, also is not part of the movie. Ed is a main character in the film, for sure, but quite diminished in the screen version.

The first encoun
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Mar 07, 2014 Kelly (and the Book Boar) rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
Find all of my reviews at:

A weekend adventure for four middle-aged suburbanites quickly turns sour when a couple of strangers interrupt their canoe trip . . .

With Spring just around the corner and the rumblings of “float trips” already being overheard in my corner of Redneckville, USA, I figured it was prime time to brush up on my camping knowledge so I can inform people what to truly expect on their weekend excursions.

Even if you are like me and have never w
Sep 27, 2013 Dem rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who like a well written adventure story
Deliverance by James Dickey was a book that really took me by surprise. Outside of my comfort zone Deliverance tells the story of four men closing in on middle age and looking for a little adventure take to the remote white waster river in the Georgia wilderness with two canoes. The adventure turns to a nightmare and a struggle for survival.

I honestly had never heard of this book and for me this was a challenge as I don't read adventure stories. This was a brilliant and breath taking adventure a
Jan 27, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it
It's too bad that there is such an overwhelming popular culture taboo built around this book, because it is one hell of a good book. While I read it, I kept thinking to myself, "Why did none of my college professors ever force us to read this book?", all the while trying to ignore the simple fact that it would have been too much, too risque, too potentially offensive... and that, in a room full of English majors, who are generally not known for their robustness of constitution or even of knowing ...more
Jan 22, 2008 Sam rated it it was amazing
I haven’t seen the film adaptation of Deliverance; I’ve only heard of the infamous “squeal like a pig” scene. Having just finished the book, the movie is next up on my Netflix queue, and I can only hope it’s half as good as the novel. The book does what so many of the greats do: tell a highly entertaining, page-turning story while at the same time layering in ideas and themes one after the other without telling you what to think about them. You could write ten or twenty different viable papers o ...more
May 23, 2015 Justin rated it it was ok
Liked the beginning when the guys were planning the trip.
Not really shocked, but more surprised by the "event" that they get caught up in. Just felt random and added for shock value.
From there, I was bored. I've never been a fan of adventure stories so reading pages and pages and pages of one guy running around, hiding, plotting, etc. just bored me. Kind of like how The Road bored me. Kind of like how the second half of The Hunger Games bored me. I just didn't care and had a tough time wrapping
I enjoyed this book. From what I remember, I believe the made the movie pretty close to the book.

I don't think the characters were very prepared and did not proceed with a lot of common sense, so it could be said that they sort of deserved the trouble they encountered.

The biggest thing I took from this is how easy you can go from having a fairly normal life to having one with skeletons in your closet that will haunt you every day.
Jan 28, 2016 booklady rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to booklady by: Knot Telling
This isn’t my usual sort of reading—but then everyone who knows me has told me not to see the movie. My husband told me it was rather brutal* which was reason enough for me to avoid.

Then one of my friends here on Goodreads wrote a beautiful review which made me think I might be able to read the book. Reading allows one to skim acts/sections of violence/perversion, concentrating on what else the book has to offer.

And indeed there is much to commend Deliverance. The setting is rural way-backwoods
Jason Alexander
Jun 10, 2016 Jason Alexander rated it really liked it
Solid dramatic writing that centers on the internal struggles as much as with the external.

The writing in regards to the characters' lives, relationships, and respect for the natural world is beautiful, and even the uglier elements are well orchestrated. On the surface this is a purely external nightmare, a macho adrenaline pumping adventure, but the real drama is encapsulated in the internal processes of the protagonist and seeing how he will respond to the external challenges. This is really t

Ok here is really my issue with this book. I just want to get the ranting out of the way, because I keep trying to write a review around it and then I get distracted by my own eye-rolling. But here is the rant on what I hated, so I can actually get on with my review, because really, I did think that the book was enjoyable. Here goes, please forgive me: the first entire half was a lot of blustering, posturing, and speech giving by men that literally don’t know shit about what they are talking abo
Jan 10, 2015 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-10-of-2014
For those of you who have seen the movie (I have not... yet!), I know what you're all thinking... who the hell would want to read this twisted book?! Answer: ME, obviously!

It was so much fun! I read the first 150 pages straight on my flight from Boston to L.A.. Major page-turner. This was an exhilarating and (yes) dark ride down the Cahulawassee river in the deep south. It's not just an adventure story, it's a deeply physiological examination some of the following themes:

- Man hunting man. Wha
Edward Lorn
Nov 21, 2013 Edward Lorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can only think of three reasons someone reads Deliverance. You're a bibliophile who refuses to watch movies if they're based on books, you hate Burt Reynolds, or you have a fantasy wherein you're raped at gunpoint by country boys. My point is, no one watches the movie and says to themselves, "I've gotta read this book!" If you have never heard of Deliverance, you should sublet your rock to the witness protection program. Even if you haven't seen the movie or read the book you've heard about th ...more
Apr 21, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it
This wilderness survival yarn is about everything that can go wrong when four city slickers take a canoe trip on a white rapids river in north Georgia. Like the narrator, Dickey was also an ad man who wrote poetry which I've enjoyed reading. The fine movie (Dickey has a cameo appearance in the role of the local redneck sheriff) works much better as an action story. Dickey packs a lot of man v. nature philosophy and interior angst into his book that slows down the pace and dulls the tension. On t ...more
Oct 04, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars. A weekend canoeing trip for four friends becomes a battle for survival in this suspenseful and action-packed adventure story set in the remote backwoods of Georgia. A real page-turner that makes me want to watch the movie again plus see and hear the dueling banjo scene. A must-read!
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

de·liv·er·ance [dih-liv-er-uhns]
: the state of being saved from something dangerous or unpleasant

Deliverance is the deceptively simplistic story of four ordinary men from Atlanta that decide to go on a canoe trip in the Georgia wilderness. The river they plan to traverse is destined to disappear soon because of a new dam that will flood the area. Soon into their trip, they encounter two men who live in the nearby mountains and their weekend wilderness advent
Jun 18, 2012 Christopher rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, american
Like most great adventure literature, it's the content that lies tangential to the main adventure plot that makes it really special. For example, only about a quarter of the length of Moby Dick is about a deranged captain seeking revenge on the pale whale which condemned him to a unipedal life. The rest is whaling history, philosophy, experiments in storytelling, etc. An abridged version which cuts out all material extraneous to the white whale plot line would be an entertaining read (perhaps ev ...more
Connie (Ava Catherine)
Having never seen the movie but knowing that it involved brutal violence, I have shied away from this novel for years. However, I finally decided to read this Southern classic although it is out of my comfort zone. James Dickey controls the suspense and foreshadowing and spirals it upward and upward until the very second of release is perfect. He builds the tension in the plot until it feels as if something is going to burst. Even though the plot is emotionally grueling and violent, his language ...more
Apr 07, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps due to an extemporaneous line in the movie version of Deliverance (it "jokingly" compares the slaughter of a pig to the experience of rape, and is not in the book), James Dickey's masterpiece has become the butt of jokes about "mutant rednecks" in Jeff Foxworthy stand-up routines and the like. This is unfortunate, since it obscures the brilliance of this classic, which the editors of the Modern Library rightly named as one of the hundred best books of the twentieth century. The book is a ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I read this book just after I saw the movie, and it's another that can not actually be said to be said to be "enjoyable" due to the "unpleasantness" that invades the "holiday" of the men involved in the story. If you saw the movie, you got the gist of the story. It's unusual that the story doesn't get gutted in a movie, but here they followed the script in basic form at least.

I give this 4 stars because I happen to enjoy the out doors and this does at least in a way tell an outdoor story in spit
Dave Allen
Feb 24, 2016 Dave Allen rated it it was amazing
A very tight, spare book, surprising because James Dickey was known for his poetry, which was anything but spare... many describe his poetry, which he was most known for and which I have revisited since beginning this novel, as sprawling. The novel is definitely full of action and very interesting, with the wilderness a main feature, and maybe an actual character. It can be brutal, with three deaths and the infamous rape scene-and it definitely has a bit of the "Heart of Darkness" about it. Like ...more
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Dickey was born in Atlanta, Georgia. After serving as a pilot in the Second World War, he attended Vanderbilt University. Having earned an MA in 1950, Dickey returned to military duty in the Korean War, serving with the US Air Force. Upon return to civilian life Dickey taught at Rice University in Texas and then at the University of Florida. From 1955 to 1961, he worked for advertising agencies in ...more
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“I was standing in the most absolute aloneness that I had ever been given.” 13 likes
“What a view, i said again. The river was blank and mindless with beauty. It was the most glorious thing I have ever seen. But it was not seeing, really. For once it was not just seeing. It was beholding. I beheld the river in its icy pit of brightness, in its far-below sound and indifference, in its large coil and tiny points and flashes of the moon, in its long sinuous form, in its uncomprehending consequence.” 8 likes
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