Deliverance

By James Dickey,

Book cover of Deliverance

Book description

“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…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Deliverance as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love to travel and frequently wonder how I’d react if an ordinary trip suddenly turned dangerous. In this novel, I learned that survival could mean being forever haunted by the experience.

Instead of a beer swilling weekend and white-water recreation, four suburbanites endure a Homeric odyssey into malevolent American darkness. Dickey’s story chronicles more than a dangerous adventure. It is extreme. It can be so extreme it challenges the reader’s tolerance.

And that gave me a powerful lesson in storytelling: do not shy away from breaking the boundaries of readerly comfort.

Since we’re already talking about intense river journeys, there’s no better book for my number two pick than Deliverance. Even if you’ve seen the movie and instantly recognize the theme song, this book is worth your time. In this classic action and adventure story, four men on a Georgia whitewater canoe trip face the trials of the river, but when they’re attacked, their challenge becomes one of primal survival. This book is often listed as one of the best of the twentieth century. 

From Rebecca's list on mystery and suspense on the river.

The part of Texas where I grew up has quite a bit in common with the part of Georgia where this book takes place. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time hunting, fishing, and roaming the woods, and have bow-hunted enough to empathize completely with several of the most intense, exciting scenes. Strange and savage things happen in the woods. People revert easily to ancient instincts and behaviors. It doesn’t take a lot to bring the inner cave-man roaring back, as the four friends in Deliverance soon learn. This is a book of high adventure that reminds me that,…

From Charles' list on that take a walk on the dark side.

I’ve had many occasions where life has tested me. Sometimes I passed with flying colors. Other times, well, the less said the better. And this story deftly illustrates that the toughest tests in life are ones you can’t prepare for, because they typically arrive unexpectedly.

In this literary novel, four middle-aged men who lead soft, suburban lives, go on a canoe adventure on a roaring river out in the wilderness. Out in the wilds, they will be tested both by nature and by evil.

They barely survive a rough set of rapids that destroys one of the two canoes. But…

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