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Watership Down

(Watership Down #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  461,496 ratings  ·  15,690 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.…more"My Chief Rabbit has told me to defend this run and until he says otherwise I shall stay here". Whoa.(less)
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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Average rating 4.07  · 
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Sean Barrs
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
Rico Suave
Jul 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 and st ...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
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 lov
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
Lisa of Troy
Aug 28, 2021 rated it liked it
An adventure about rabbits.....

This is a tale about a group of rabbits, mainly Bigwig, Hazel, and Fiver, who leave their initial warren which has been slated to become a new housing development. They tried to find the best place to settle, but they have many obstacles along the way. They encounter other rabbits and other animals, forming both friendships and enemies. Interspersed among the tale are short stories about El-ahrairah, a very clever rabbit.

This is another book on the 100 Books to Re
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 i
Sep 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Watership Down (Watership Down #1), Richard Adams

Watership Down is a survival and adventure novel by British author Richard Adams, published in 1972. Set in southern England, around Hampshire, the story features a small group of rabbits.

Although they live in their natural wild environment, with burrows, they are possessing their own culture, language, proverbs, poetry, and mythology. Evoking epic themes, the novel follows the rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren and seek a pla
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
Aug 29, 2011 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
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 leaves their warren when one of them, Fiver, who has second sight, has visions of a disaster to come, after failing to convince the head rabbit of the danger.

The rabbits have various adventures along the way to a new home
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
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
Aug 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful reread!
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
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
Jason Koivu
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy



* * * * * *



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
Initially, I was quite intent on giving this story 3 stars, until:
1. the ending! I'm a sucker for endings like these! I liked it so much that I had to rewind to listen to the first couple of chapters again;
2. this story, based on Richard Adams's explanation in his "Author's Note", is "...not an allegory, or parable, but simply a story about rabbits, made up in the car." Glad I heard this first, because I, like so many other readers, would probably have been looking for a deeper meaning (no, it's
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
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
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
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
"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 C
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
Watership Down is a modern classic that has sold over 50 million copies worldwide, as well as
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 cha
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 & their
Em Lost In Books
read this book last year and was one of my absolute favorite of the year (also now one of my all time favorites), but never came around to write a review for this one. A book like this one deserves a review and so here I am writing one for this.

When I started reading this book, the talking rabbits seems weird and was very near to stop reading but at that time I was on my way to see my newly born niece. so nothing else to do for one hour I kept reading this book and absolutely fell in love with t
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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

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Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate...
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“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.” 948 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.” 761 likes
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