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Watership Down

(Watership Down #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  381,467 ratings  ·  12,341 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 November 1972)
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Rafael Martins "My Chief Rabbit has told me to defend this run and until he says otherwise I shall stay here". Whoa.
Nicholas Hazel possesses fundamental leadership qualities:
Intuition and empathy allow him to understand the talents and motivation of his fellow rabbits (and…more
Hazel possesses fundamental leadership qualities:
Intuition and empathy allow him to understand the talents and motivation of his fellow rabbits (and other animals that rabbits tend to dismiss, such as the mouse and Keharr).
Modesty allows him to understand and accept that others are stronger, smarter, and more capable than himself in many aspects, and therefore his aptitude lies in directing the talents of others for the benefit of the group.
Courage identifies him as selfless and admirable, and therefore others are willing to trust and follow him.

This is all beautifully summarized by Thayli, the biggest and strongest in the warren, when he is face-to-face with Woundwart, defending the run against insurmountable odds, with the opportunity to safely defect, while Hazel wasn't even there:
"My Chief Rabbit has told me to stay and defend this run, and until he says otherwise, I shall stay here."(less)

Community Reviews

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4.06  · 
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 ·  381,467 ratings  ·  12,341 reviews


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Rico Suave
Jul 13, 2007 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
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Mar 27, 2015 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
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Slowly watching the new Netflix show! Don’t want to cry too much at once!

Re-read on audio is great. Still truly wonderful & sad.





OMG! I can't believe it has taken me all of these years to read this book! It was such a wonderful book. There were some sad things, but I was able to get through it.

I loved getting lost in this world of rabbits, where they talked of their fears, of things they needed to get done, the great camaraderie between each and every one of them. They were all so brave. I
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
"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
Mark Lawrence
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book an age ago. Maybe 40 years ago the first time.

Lots of authors have written animal stories but they tend to be cute little tales where the level of anthropomorphism is such that the rabbits or whatever are practically, or literally, wearing waistcoats and top hats. We only need to look to Wind in the Willows or Beatrix Potter for examples.

Obviously *some* level of making the animals human is required. I suspect a rabbit's true inner monologue would be rather dull even if it could
...more
John
Sep 01, 2007 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
Lyndz
Mar 17, 2012 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
Apatt
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
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
Nataliya
In memory of Richard Adams (1920 - 2016):
-------

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 imp
...more
Bionic Jean
I remember when Watership Down was first published in 1972. It was a novel by an unknown English author, Richard Adams. All of a sudden the book Watership Down was absolutely everywhere and people were reading it on buses, trains, park benches — all over the place. It captured everybody's imagination. Six years later the animated film came out, and it all happened all over again! If, glancing at the cover, you asked any of those readers "Is this a book about rabbits?" the answer would be a hesit ...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
Terry
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
Michelle
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The premise of “Watership Down” may sound ridiculous. To put it simply: it's the story of a bunch of rabbits who leave their comfortable (but doomed) home,and try to make a new and better one, a couple of square miles away. It should be ridiculous. Come on -- bunnies?!
Oh, but it’s not ridiculous at all! It is epic! Distance, as we measure it, is irrelevant. What a human (arrogant lord of the earth) traverses without a thought in just a few strides, is a vast and terror-filled expanse to a ten-i
...more
Jason Koivu
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
REVISION:

DAMN YOU, 2016, STOP THE MADNESS!!!

https://watership-down.com/2016/12/27...


* * * * * *

ORIGINAL:

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
...more
Manny
Dec 20, 2008 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
Scott
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every conversation I have ever had about this book:

Me: "Really? You haven't read Watership Down?!'
You: "Nope"
Me: "Read it! It's beautiful! A work of touching, thoughtful genius!"
You: "What's it about?"
Me: "Never mind that, it's a stunning book. Just read it. You'll love it."
You: "So it's a naval theme then? Like a Das Boot-y book? Or a Titanic style story?"
Me: "Well... no, its more, well, it's based on land. In England. Seriously though, Richard Adams is a hell of a storyteller."
You: "Oh! OK, so
...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
Monica
There is an ongoing discussion on goodreads about whether or not your friends' opinions of books influences your own when writing reviews.  Prior to this book, I would have said not really.  Possibly because many of my friends have similar tastes in books.  With Watership Down, my first instinct was to assail this book.  Mock it mercilessly!  But in my long list of friends, the question seemed to be "Is it a great book or is it the best book ever!?!"  Now this will not be a favorite for me, but ...more
Justin Tate
Watership Down is a classic because no one else--except maybe Elmer Fudd--has ever been this obsessed with rabbits. Adams explores rabbit lore, rabbit religion, rabbit social hierarchy, rabbit culture, rabbit war strategy and so much more--all while being chased by cats and driven to procreate. What could be more rabbit than that?

Unfortunately I have the minority opinion here that it's not very good. If I'm being completely honest, the rabbit protagonist novelty dissipates around page 75 and the
...more
Johann (jobis89)
"We do not take moonlight for granted. It is like snow, or like the dew on a July morning. It does not reveal but changes what it covers. And its low intensity---so much lower than that of daylight---makes us conscious that it is something added to the down, to give it, for only a little time, a singular and marvelous quality that we should admire while we can, for soon it will be gone again."

Watership Down follows the story of a group of rabbits who are in search of a new home after they escape
...more
Maciek
Jul 04, 2013 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
Fabian
Feb 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had started this before but shelved it for more than EIGHT years! Worth the wait?

Now, without that adolescent sense of awe, I do not share Donnie Darko's fascination with it (though Joy Division for sure will never go out of style). Yes, because I associate it with my formative (hellish) years, I think I made a bigger deal about getting through this than I should have.

In reality, it is actually a sorta Tolkienesque experiment personifying rabbits. As a reader you feel for the critters & t
...more
``Laurie Henderson
Watership Down is a modern classic that has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.

Watership Down is my 3rd favorite book of all time behind
Gone with the Wind and
In a Dark Wood Wandering: A Novel of the Middle Ages
I've tremendously enjoyed re-reading this wonderful book again.

Author Richard Adams love of nature and knowledge of English flora and fauna made it so easy to enter the imaginary world of WD to the point of even being able to sniff the flowers and enjoy the scenery.

The delightful and c
...more
Carmen
Nov 06, 2013 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
Amy
Oct 21, 2007 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
Robert
Aug 21, 2008 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
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
Mariel
Nov 29, 2007 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
Bradley
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy, 2018-shelf
So, yeah.

Rabbits going gung-ho in England and encountering many different politics, talking about mythology, death, and courage.

Oh, yeah, and if you didn't pick up on that bit... it's FANTASY. They can't count to five but they have complex Briar-Rabbit mythologies. Oh, and there's a bit of a Cassandra precog stuff and ghosts, too.

But don't let this next bit bring you down! It's YA.

Oh, a lot of people might say it's too graphic for younglings but that's entirely a matter of opinion. It's rabbit
...more
Celeste
You can now find this review and more at Novel Notions.

I’ve been a huge fantasy reader since around fifth grade. So how on earth did I miss Watership Down while I was in school? Did our library not have a copy? Was its reputation as a “classic” a deterrent to friends who might have told me of its existence? Whatever the case, I had never even heard of Watership Down until the later years of college. The people who raved about the book then were generally hipster guys, beating everyone else over
...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
WHAT IS THE Message! 9 77 Jul 24, 2019 02:24AM  
Catching up on Cl...: Watership Down - SPOILERS 48 140 Jun 08, 2019 08:28AM  
Opinions on the BBC&Netflix version 6 47 Apr 10, 2019 12:48PM  
The future of the rabbits 4 17 Feb 28, 2019 05:42AM  
The politics of Watership Down 15 376 Jan 04, 2019 08:16AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Watership Down (2 books)
  • Tales from Watership Down  (Watership Down, #2)
“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.” 760 likes
“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.” 686 likes
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