Richard Adams, R. I. P.

Do you know who Richatd Adams was? He was the author of the huge 1972 bestseller Watership Down. He recently passed away at 96 in England, where he lived. Though not relevant to our chosen subject of eminent domain and land use law, this event bears noting because Adams’ subject was and remains a gigantic achievement in clear thinking, and sound governance, even if was cast in the form of an allegorical tale about a band of rabbits facing the destruction of their community.

 We will let the New York Times tell the story:

  • “Facing the destruction of their underground warren by a housing development, a small party of yearling bucks led by a venturesome rabbit named Hazel flees in search of a new home. They encounter human beings with machines and poisons, snarling dogs and a large colony of rabbits who have surrendered their freedoms for security under a tyrannical oversize rabbit, General Woundwort.
  • “It was a timeless allegory of freedom, ethics and human nature. Beyond powers of speech and intellect, Mr. Adams imbued his rabbits with trembling fears, clownish wit, daring, a folklore of proverbs and poetry, and a language called Lapine, complete with a glossary: “silflay” (going up to feed), “hraka” (droppings), “tharn” (frozen by fear), “elil” (enemies).
  • “The pioneers realize that founding a new warren is meaningless without mates and offspring. With a sea gull and a mouse for allies, they raid Woundwort’s stronghold, spirit away some of his captive does and confront his forces in a pitched battle in defense of their new warren on Watership Down.”

If you can find a copy of Watership Down, read it and ponder its lesson