“You're hooked, you feel every cut, grope up every cliff, swallow water with every spill of the canoe, sweat with every draw of the bowstring. Wholly absorbing [and] dramatic.”—Harper's Magazine
The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the states 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 own harrowing deliverance.
Praise for Deliverance
“Once read, never forgotten.”—Newport News Daily Press
“A tour de force . . . How a man acts when shot by an arrow, what it feels like to scale a cliff or to capsize, the ironic psychology of fear: these things are conveyed with remarkable descriptive writing.”—The New Republic
“Freshly and intensely alive . . . with questions that haunt modern urban man.”—Southern Review
“A fine and honest book that hits the reader's mind with the sting of a baseball just caught in the hand.”—The Nation
“[James Dickey's] language has descriptive power not often matched in contemporary American writing.”—Time
“A harrowing trip few readers will forget.”—Asheville Citizen-Times
"A novel that will curl your toes . . . Dickey's canoe rides to the limits of dramatic tension."—New York Times Book Review
"A brilliant and breathtaking adventure."—The New Yorker
Customer ReviewsSee All
Picture this. Four forty year old men traveling down a flooding, newly dammed river, on canoes, only one of them a true outdoorsman, with the other three just trying to have a relaxing, fun, weekend easing down a river. The foursome soon found that they were in for a weekend filled with many experiences that no man should ever expect to endure during their lives. In James Dickey’s Deliverance, a seemingly innocent boat ride escalates into one of the most dramatic thriller novels I have ever made my way through as a reader. Deliverance does what any reader would hope for with a thriller novel. It provides some light tone and humor until the true drama of the book is encountered at which part you are drawn into the immense size of the problems they are in, while also being shocked to the core from something morally wrong within the book. The last part is something that Deliverance does as well as any other book out there. After the exposition, the readers determination to get through is completely paid off with many story moments that I never saw coming and completely made the read worth it.
James Dickey was more well known as a veteran, professor, then a southern poet before writing Deliverance, but it grabbed so much attention after the movie was released in 1972, two years after its original release that he grew to fame very quickly. Nothing else Dickey has penned has come close to the popularity of Deliverance, which is difficult to do when Deliverance has been put in Time magazine’s top 100 best English language novels.
ATTENTION: Everywhere beyond the first two paragraphs include spoilers, so if you do not wish to have any parts of this pleasurable read spoiled, you have been warned.
Dickey goes above and beyond with his description of the events within Georgia’s rural areas, going beyond what the normal reader would expect and pushes our sensibilities of morality in an extreme way which is always very intriguing. Dickey does this in one very famous scene, where one of the canoes is stopped by two hicks and one of the men is tied down while the other raped and forced to oink like a pig the whole time. Gentry and Trippe are saved by Lewis sneaking up and shooting one with a bow while the other ran away. Dickey’s uses this scene to begin the drama within the story and creates a strong moral question, whether killing the hillbilly was justified or not. It was a moral dilemma that is dealt with throughout the rest of the story and fuels the rest of the issues they encounter.