This book is said to be a celebrated British Classic. It is a tale of survival of a group of wild rabbits. These rabbits migrate from their warren (rabbit colony) in search of a safer haven. They eventually establish their own warren called Watership Down.
This book is written by Richard Adams, who first recounted this tale to his two daughters to pass time. His daughters urged him to write this book. The book was later converted into a movie, which I am told, did not work. It was also adapted into a television series.
The rabbit characters in are Watership Down lovable. They are all human-like, that is writer has anthropomorphised. It was interesting to read about a man from rabbit’s point of view. Bigwig and Hazel were my favourite characters.
Adams based his descriptions of wild rabbit behaviour on British naturalist Ronald Lockley’s book The Private Life of the Rabbit (1964). Adams has also credited Lockley in his book.
The rabbits in Adam’s book have their own culture, a rich folk lore with a brave hero called El-ahrairah, their own lapine language. Few words that I picked up from the lapine vocabulary are elil (enemies), Firth (Sun or God), Homba (Fox), Ni-Firth (noon), Inle (Moon) and lendri (badger). Here is a video clip from movie about rabbit folklore:
Do not mistake Watership Down as just another children’s book, there’s much we adults can learn from the book about teamwork and leadership. Think of Watership Down, the rabbits’ new home, as a start-up by some enterprising youths. Making a start-up work is all about a teamwork and leadership as depicted in the book. Here are few teamwork/leadership lessons summed from Adam’s Watership Down:
- Teamwork is not a one-man-show. Every team depends on unique abilities of each team member. If Hazel had leadership and Bigwig had brawn, it was Fiver’s intuition, and Silver’s speed that saved their lives at times.
- As a leader, you can’t just assign unwanted, difficult tasks to your team members. You lead by example. Hazel, the leader, took many risky tasks on him to lead by example.
- Every change may seem like crossing the mountain in the beginning. But you must weigh and take risks. Making change saved the lives of rabbits, as is evident in the book.
- You don’t need everyone to be a leader in team, followers are also needed. Pipkin was the weakest rabbit, but he was always made part of a plan by Hazel, the leader.
- Bravado and enthusiasm do not always help. Think before you leap. You can also replace ‘Think’ with ‘Strategise’ in the sentence. Have a plan, think of contingencies, most of the times it will work.
- You read right in the last point. Plans work most of the time, but not all the times. There will always be times when you will need to think on feet. Keep your cool.
- It always pays to make friends and contacts. In the book, Kehaar, the seagull and rat proved to be unlikely allies of rabbits. It may not be worth having enemies over skirmishes.
- It never pays to be satisfied. After they had their place under sun, rabbits of Watership Down warren wanted does. (This had though outraged the feminists.)
- Brawn and direct-attack doesn’t work always. Rabbits are creature of tricks; they do it for survival everyday.
- This is blank for you to add your own takeaway. I am sure you would come with few after reading the book. 🙂
Rating: 4/5 (There is a wonderful, flowing story of resilience and adventure.)
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