The story details a canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River in Northern Georgia that becomes a primitive nightmare that will leave one man dead and three men changed forever. In a moment of horror, the harmless adventure of four middle class, respectable southern men becomes a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.
The novel was made into a film in 1972, with the screenplay adapted by Dickey. It stars Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. The motion picture was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture.