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The Plague Dogs

by Richard Adams

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,040366,697 (3.72)90
Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down, creates a lyrical and engrossing tale, a remarkable journey into the hearts and minds of two canine heroes, Snitter and Rowf. After being horribly mistreated at a government animal-research facility, Snitter and Rowf escape into the isolation--and terror--of the wilderness. Aided only by a fox they call "the tod," the two dogs must struggle to survive in their new environment. When the starving dogs attack some sheep, they are labeled ferocious man-eating monsters, setting off a great dog hunt that is later intensified by the fear that the dogs could be carriers of the bubonic plague.… (more)
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    themulhern: Animals interpreting as best they can the actions of the humans. Sometimes the effect is humorous.
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English (34)  Swedish (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Richard Adams's first and most popular book was "Watership Down", essentially an adventure tale all about rabbits, with barely any human intervention, except for the precipitating event and the coda, with "Dr. Adams", perhaps Richard Adams's father.

The purpose of the book is didactic; Richard Adams decided to write a novel about the evils of useless animal experimentation, and he went about it very thoroughly, using the animals' point of view.

It may not have been his purpose, but like many English authors of that time, he shows his growing contempt for the new sort of English person, venal, bureaucratic, silly, trivial and corrupt. There are excursions into the world of national politics, local politics, and journalism, all satirical yet realistic. The good people are selected from person he has met, just like the brave rabbits of "Watership Down" were modeled on soldiers and resistance fighters he had known during WWII. They are actual ex-soldiers, like Peter Scott, or hard-working sheep farmers. The cynicism about all the rest of the characters is obtrusive. Poor Mr. Powell undergoes a conversion experience of sorts, and when we leave him has formed the resolution of becoming a useful person instead of an animal-torturing bureacrat.

The animals are, of course, sympathetic and generally very close to their own deaths throughout the story. Being dogs, i.e., domesticated animals, they have theories about the humans which are not at all like those of the rabbits of "Watership Down", wild animals with very little chosen contact with humans.

The memory of WWII persists. Mr. Powell has nightmares about the Russian front while sick. Mr. Ephraim is lonely and tormented by the loss of so many of his family and by the horrors the survivors experienced.

The very last part allows Adams to put a dialogue, very Socratic, into the mouths of two famous naturalists. The dialogue is suprisingly uninteresting, unfortunately.

A good book, because of the novel subject, expertly told. ( )
  themulhern | Mar 12, 2022 |
Plague Dogs by Richard Adams (1986)
  arosoff | Jul 10, 2021 |
I rarely write reviews of my favorite books. First of all because English is not my native language and second because I don't think I'm that good for it.

First I heard about Richard Adams was when listening to a band called Fall Of Efrafa (crust punk/sludge metal) which I loved! All their albums had weird names like "Inle", "Owsla", "Elil" and after I listened them for some time I did a search on google to find out what Efrafa was. So I found out about Watership Down and devoured it.

Then I found out about The Plague Dogs, but somehow didn't have the time for it because of all the other books I read lately. So, I started 2019 with it and... WHAT A BOOK!!!

I confess that being a dog owner and being a dog lover the whole story hit me hard. Adams is very good at describing the ordeals of the two dogs and their adventures. He's also good at painting the human character. He's also very good at dragging you in the action, in the way the animals might "understand" this world and life. Another thing I liked about this book was the suspense of each chapter and the way the author leaves parts of the story hanging and then tells it from the perspective of the humans ot the other way around...

All in all, this book is a wonder, a very good story that should make anyone think about what we do to animals in order to make our lives better and if it's really worth it. ( )
  clmbmb | Dec 31, 2020 |
The more I explore Adams’s oeuvre, the more remarkable it becomes. Adams, of course, is best known for his debut, Watership Down, one of those novels which became a cultural phenomenon and continues to be popular today. That’s a difficult act to follow. Adams’s subsequent books sold well but never reached the heights of Watership Down, and few of his books are now in print. Watership Down was followed by a Bronze Age fantasy, Shardik, which reads partly like something already covered many times by genre fantasy and partly like a somewhat sideways approach to fantasy by someone unfamiliar with the genre. And then we have The Plague Dogs, Adams’s third novel, a novel that in precis seems relatively straightforward. Two dogs used in animal research, anthromorphised as the rabbits were in Watership Down, escape the lab and manage to survive in the wild. But this all takes places in the Lake District, and most of the dialogue is written in dialect, including that of some of the animals encountered by the two dogs, Snitter and Rowf. It doesn’t help that the laboratory is called Animal Research (Scientific and Experimental) or ARSE, and that The Plague Dogs actually reads like it might have been intended as a comedy. But not a black comedy. A black comedy would be ironic, and The Plague Dogs is far from ironic. Adams was a singular talent, with an oeuvre worth exploring even now, more than a decade after his last book. His career clearly declined after the mid-1980s, but his books after Watership Down are, I’m discovering, worth reading. ( )
  iansales | Sep 4, 2020 |
The Plague Dogs is a step down from Watership Down. The true strength of Watership Down was its world-building and grand scale adventure. The culture of the rabbits and how they interacted with one another was a delight and kept you turning pages. Here, much of the animal-cultural aspect is cast aside for a scathing commentary on how humans interact with animals. While this an issue worth exploring, the themes Richard Adams tries to convey are stunted by characters and a story that are not always interesting enough to keep us along for the ride.

When the world-building is there, glimmers of what made his masterpiece so good shine through and can be riveting. But a lot of time is spent in unnecessary wandering and heavy-handed-ness. Unlike in his other work where the characters are strong enough to get us through the quiet, philosophical parts and the next adventure is ever-present, there is very little here to keep us going. Snitter and Rowf and interesting, but they are given very little to endear us to them and often seem aimless in their direction and thus make the reader feel the story could go further. If you are a fan of Richard Adams, give this book a try. But for others, it might be a hard to get into. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Adamsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Butler, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piet EggenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wainwright, A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
QUEEN: I will try the forces

Of these thy compounds on such creatures as

We count not worth the hanging, but none human . . .

CORNELIUS: Your Highness

Shall from this practice but make hard your heart.

--Shakespeare, Cymbeline
There is in this passage nothing that much requires a note, yet I cannot forbear to push it forward into observation. The thought would probably have been more amplified, had our author lived to be shocked with such experiments as have been published in later times, by a race of men that have practised tortures without pity, and related them without shame, and are yet suffered to erect their heads among human beings.

--Dr. Johnson
Dedication
To Elizabeth, with whom I first discovered the Lake District.
First words
The water in the metal tank slopped sideways and a treacly ripple ran along the edge, reached the corner and died away.
Quotations
For we are free---free to suffer every anguish of deliberation, of decisions which must be made upon suspect information and half-knowledge, every anguish of hindsight and regret, of failure, shame, and responsibility for all that we have brought upon ourselves and others: free to struggle, to starve, to demand from all one last, supreme effort to reach where we long to be and, once there, to conclude that it is not, after all, the right place.
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Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down, creates a lyrical and engrossing tale, a remarkable journey into the hearts and minds of two canine heroes, Snitter and Rowf. After being horribly mistreated at a government animal-research facility, Snitter and Rowf escape into the isolation--and terror--of the wilderness. Aided only by a fox they call "the tod," the two dogs must struggle to survive in their new environment. When the starving dogs attack some sheep, they are labeled ferocious man-eating monsters, setting off a great dog hunt that is later intensified by the fear that the dogs could be carriers of the bubonic plague.

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With the same warm sensitivity that made a bestseller of Watership Down, Richard Adams creates a lyrical and engrossing tale, a remarkable journey into the hearts and minds of two canine heroes, Snitter and Rowf, fugitives from the horrors of the animal research center.

The escape from man's cruelty is only the beginning of their chilling experiences as the flee to the isolation - and terror - of the wilderness.

First, they strike an unlikely bargain with a fox who will teach them to live by instinct alone if they agree to hunt with him. Then they find enemies springing up all around them - excitement seekers of all kinds - incited by an ambitious young reporter who calls the dogs carriers of a deadly plague.
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