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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  29,729 ratings  ·  1,354 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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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  29,729 ratings  ·  1,354 reviews

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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
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece of lyrical, intense writing. When I think of the old writing admonition "make haste, slowly," I think of this book, because the plot is riveting and tense and yet it all unfurls with a measured deliberation, with great care in the writing that transforms it from a potboiler to something far more beautiful. There are so many arresting sentences here. I've cracked the book at random to highlight just a couple (and I don't think they'll spoil anything since they're devoid of context): ...more
Pramod Nair
Aug 05, 2015 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
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who like a well written adventure story
Shelves: adventure
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
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
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
The one about the city folk getting lost in the woods and subsequently raped/hunted. Confession: I 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 co
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
DELIVERANCE is a tremendous novel and river adventure from James Dickey. This is an American classic.
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Deliverance is a book about wilderness and survival. Maybe, not the way you would generally imagine a wilderness -vs- survival meeting (no spoilers here) but none-the-less, survival in the truest sense. This novel was
very well written, extremely fluent and flowing.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, favorites
Woo hoo, my last book of 2016, and boy was it a doozy! What a fantastic way to end the year. :)

This book is about 4 suburban men who spend the weekend river rafting and hunting deep within the mountains of Georgia. They meet some hillbillies, horrible things happen, and then they spend the rest of the weekend in a race to survive the brutal elements of the wilderness, as well as trying to survive against enemies who were born and raised in those mountains. The enemies have the advantage of knowi
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Aug 18, 2011 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 02, 2015 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 ri
Edward Lorn
Oct 28, 2013 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
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: bad canoers
Shelves: 2016
"You didn't know what you uz agettin' into, did you?"

A bunch of suburban men try to suck the marrow out of life in 1970's Deliverance, and find instead that life sucks the marrow out of them. Poet Laureate James Dickey is interested in getting back to the basics, escaping from the plastic-wrapped safety of suburbia: his characters find that they are in no way equipped to handle it.

I know Deliverance from the movie, and specifically from the only scene anyone remembers from the movie, which invol
Philip Patrick
Feb 13, 2008 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
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerfully written novel that at its core deals with our instinctual human desire to survive at all costs. The plot is basic; four men decide to raft a seldom traveled river through north Georgia hill country. From that point on it is man verse nature, and in the end you might call it a draw.
James Dickey was a renowned poet, and only wrote a couple of novels. Reading "Deliverance" you can tell. The prose is economical, and there are rarely more words used then are needed. For the casua
Three squares led by a survivalist, head to rural America in search of adventure. They get more than they bargained for. But in the process, some of them become better men. Deliverance is one of the best survival novels of all time. It is amazing how American novels speak to the whole world. They speak everyone's language and appeal to people from all cultures. I am sure readers from all earth alienated cultures would be able to identify with Deliverance.

It is a really entertaining novel once th
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,
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.
Sep 19, 2013 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!
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Mar 03, 2014 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 neve
Dee Arr
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, suspense
There are no spoilers here, nothing to ruin it for the few people who have never seen the 1972 movie of the same name. The movie followed fairly closely to the book, so I knew where the plot was headed the whole time. Even with that knowledge, I was inexorably pulled into the story, unable to set the book down.

Dickey’s continuous examinations in the early part of the book infect the reader with the malaise that has enveloped Ed Gentry and become his life. As a canoe trip that began as a break in
Cheryl Kennedy
The 'where' and the 'who' of this novel seem to be the most important aspects of the author's famous work. The intense, visceral clash between "the people with nine fingers" and the alpha-males challenging themselves on Georgia's cavern of white water rapids couldn't have come to life anywhere but there. And what happens on the river between the city-dwellers and country-kin is somehow believable because of the cultural differences.

It's early morning here. I've been reading most of the night to
Jessica Woodbury
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rereads, audiobooks
I read this book years ago, back in the days when I used the Modern Library 100 Best Novels list to guide my reading because I didn't really understand modern literature outside The Canon. It was one of the books that really stood out to me and I've always remembered it fondly. An Audible sale gave me the chance to experience it again and re-evaluate it with more years behind me and a much broader understanding of modern lit. It was not at all what I expected, and it still stands out with a hand ...more
Adam Morel
Apr 14, 2013 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
Jan 27, 2009 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
“I was standing in the most absolute aloneness that I had ever been given.”
― James Dickey, Deliverance

A magnificent novel of slowly deepening dread and horror. I have seen the movie and both the book and the movie are equally good. Never will I forget this story. Even now, I reread the book and when I see the film on television I have to watch it. I loved the book and whenever I reread it always feels fresh and like it is the first time ever that I am reading it.

And Deliverance, the movie, is j
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
I don't think I have a real appreciation for the book as a whole because I am not a man. I can't relate to the narrators feelings but I do appreciate them. I don't think I can identify with the emotions portrayed. I don't appreciate the detail of a bow or the shooting a bow. I Still liked this read and would recommend.
J.M. Hushour
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"You ain't goin' nowhere."

That's what the creepy redneck actually says in that scene. C'mon, you know what I'm talking about.
With that obligatory reference, let's move on. This is an outstanding novel. It probably helped that Dickey was a poet and a raging alcoholic, but probably more the poet gig. He's a rapid-fire writer, you could probably read this novel in a sitting at turns mystified by its weird, poetic beauty and then its harrowing sheer feral brutality. You know the story, probably: fou
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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.” 18 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.” 12 likes
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