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Watership Down, The Illustrated Edition Hardcover – 1976

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 550 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin and Kestrel Books; First Illustrated Edition edition (1976)
  • ASIN: B0084OHUN4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,202,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard George Adams (born 9 May, 1920) is an English novelist best known as the author of Watership Down.

He originally began telling the story of Watership Down to his two daughters, and they insisted he publish it as a book. When Watership Down was finally published, it sold over a million copies in record time in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Watership Down has become a modern classic and won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 1972.

Others of his books include Shardik, Maia, Tales from Watership Down, The Girl in a Swing and The Plague Dogs, the last two of which, together with Watership Down, have been filmed. His goal is to tell a good story, ideally one so good you can't put it down!

Richard Adams currently lives in Hampshire, England. He has written about his childhood and youth, including the time he served in the army in World War II, in 'The Day Gone By'.

Product Description

John Lawrence used a delicate pen and watercolour wash style that looks as if it had been drawn, sketched almost, from life in the field. Lawrence has managed to give the illustrations a summery warmth with his lightness of touch and simplicity of line, often merely suggesting backgrounds.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By "grumpyfisherman" on 11 May 2004
Format: Paperback
"The primroses were over. Towards the edge of the wood, where the ground became open..." - Richard Adams, Watership Down.
The title about says it all. I have cried at this book more often than I can remember; I get a shiver up my spine just hearing those opening words. I currently have four copies of the book, in varying states of disrepair, and on VHS video and DVD. There is just no other book like it. I apologise for the bad writing of this review, but it is impossible to be even slightly objective about something which has affected you so much growing up. By the age of 12 or 13, I had already read it numerous times.
Adams' simply gorgeous description of the countryside and the true beauty of the world is fantastically balanced with the grim and evil reality the humans bring to the world of the rabbits. I cannot quite place why I love this book, it is just something which exists so perfectly in your soul. If you are sitting on a crowded commuter train, or you are on the eve of a fated deadline, or more down in the dumps than you have ever been, you can pick up Watership Down and immediately escape into a world where the only things that matter are survival and the bonds you make with close friends going through traumatic and dangerous experiences. These rabbits do not know of human "troubles", and this is what makes this story so appealing: the INNOCENCE of it all. The pure pleasure of not caring.
The film has much the same effect, however I do feel it focuses on a different part of the story. The portrayal of Fiver's troubled mind is often chilling, and I would not recommend the film for very young children (as I know it scared me when I was younger!).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By W. Robinson on 25 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
I want to make it clear that I do not use words like "brilliant" lightly or give 5 stars out like confetti when I write these reviews. However, having read this book, both are justified. It is simply a wonderful, wonderful book. How can a book about rabbits talking to each other be so good? Well, how about vivid characters, high adventure, some breathtaking moments, a fantastic plot, and incredible adventures, all set in the countryside of England which is beautifully described, seen through the eyes of the rabbits.
It is a fairly long book at 470 pages approx, but never once does it get boring or tedious. In fact, the story builds to an amazing climax. I never would have believed I would enjoy a story about rabbits so much (I normally read science fiction!). On closing this book at the end, you get that feeling which only comes when you know you have read a masterpiece.
Also, please don't make the mistake of thinking this is a children's book. This book is for all ages. Even if you are 95 it would still be a great read. I could not put it down. Thank you Mr Adams for this truly great book.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dr Evil TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
'Watership Down' is the exciting and emotional tale where a group of rabbits are forced to leave their Sandleford homes when Fiver, who often sees visions of the future, tells them that their warren is in danger from humans. The group is then lead by Hazel and Bigwig as they make their way through the fields of Hampshire as they come face to face with danger from other animals such as rats, foxes, cats, dogs and owls as well as humans and cars. As the story goes on Hazel and the group of rabbits try to rescue some rabbits from a farm; help a bird, who in turn then helps them; join another warren of rabbits and also try to steal does from a much bigger and powerful warren known as Efrafa, leading to a shocking and brilliant finalle. Along the way tales are told of El-ahrairah (prince of a thousand enemies), which gives more insight into the beliefs of the rabbits in their own world.

As someone who usually mainly reads crime fiction and horror (and have also never seen the movie adaption), I never thought that I'd enjoy a book about a bunch of rabbits but after a strong recommendation from my girlfriend, I gave this a try and once I started it I couldn't put it down. Immediately I fell in love with Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Pipkin, Dandelion, Speedwell, Blackberry, Silver, Buckthorn, Holly, Bluebell and Strawberry. Each and everyone of them has their individual characteristics and I found that I actually cared quite a lot what happened to them, and got quite emotional at certain points in the story.

Although this dubbed a children's novel, I found it to be quite complex at times and also quite gruesome and horrifying in parts, which I could imagine may be quite disturbing for younger readers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Noverraz on 8 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
Watership Down tells the story of a bunch of rabbits (Hazel and his brother Fiver, Bigwig, Silver and others) who are forced to leave their warren as Fiver's sixth sense tells him great danger is coming. As they look for a place to settle down, not only do they encounter many enemies along the way, but also other rabbits with different ways of living, and who can sometimes be particularly unfriendly.
They finally find an idyllic place to live: on Watership Down. As they settle down, they suddenly realise they've forgotten about something: females!
The story goes on to describe their raids to capture does and bring them back to their new warren. They first manage to get a hutch female rabbit from a nearby farm, but soon realise that just one female is not enough.
So they make for Efrafa, a warren not far from theirs, only to discover it is run by a certain General Woundwort, a tyrant who thinks of his rabbits as an army. In fact, these rabbits are prisoners, unhappy and unable to escape.
So Hazel, Bigwig and their friends devise a plan to rescue some does, risking their own live in the process.
From this brief outline of the plot and even from the cover of the book, Watership Down may look like a children's book. Do not be fooled: this book is full of violence and cruelty, not just between rabbits and their natural foes, but also among themselves. And you realise early on that, somehow like in George Orwell's Animal Farm, it's fundamentaly a critical view of our own human society, a way of showing us how we also can behave in a barbarous way.
Anyway, I think the book is still suitable for children who will love this great adventure, as Watership Down is aslo full of suspense and once you've started, it's "unputdownable"!
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