228 of 231 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 1999
Thank you Leo Tolstoy for giving the world such a profound gift. This book was banned in Tolstoy's homeland, Russia, because it was considered revolutionary, it inspired Mohandas Ghandi to align his life with the Truth at any cost, and with the insanely universal dependence by nation states upon the military option, this book remains as relevant as it was on the day it was published in 1894.
Admittedly, this is not a quick read. At times, one can feel bogged down in Tolstoy's meticulous arguments. But taken as a whole, it is an inspired and inspiring work which will without fail prod the attentive reader to scrutinize one's life -- beliefs AND actions.
I believe this book will resurface time and again in the non-violent mass movements of the coming century. Read it. Absorb it. Assimilate it. The truth as revealed in this book will indeed set us all free!
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1998
Reading this book can, hopefully, change how persons think about truth and non-violence. No doubt Gandhi was overwhelmed by it (and tried to practise it). They lived in the same time. If everyone practices even an iota of the observations and yearning for truth from this book, the world would be a better place to live in. Definitely recommended for all who seek the Truth and are willing to try.
179 of 199 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2002
This is the book which sparked the spiritual revolution in Ghandi, and helped make him the unbelieveable man he was. Ghandi raved about this book in his autobiography, and I couldn't agree more. This could quite possibly be the best book I have ever read. However, two years ago I wouldn't have gotten all that I have out of it. It came in the perfect time of my spiritual awakening. By the very Truth of you reading what I am saying I would suggest you get this book RIGHT NOW! You are ready to hear what he has to say, and it will make you a better person and thus making our world better. Tolstoy is a remarkable spiritual revolutionist, and he will open your eyes to the works of others that have been suppressed throughout time. Good luck to you and take care out there!
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2006
This book blew me away. Tolstoy explains the cause of conflicts between divergent theories of life, the intrinsic hypocrisy of life in modern society, the futility of force-based solutions, and the nature of man's search for personal truth. He proposes a radical change in social order based on Christ's Sermon on the Mount.
Most people recommend you read the last chapter first, but I plowed right through the tedious beginning and found it relevant to my thoughts at the time.
Perhaps I discovered this book at exactly the right time in my life, but my life will never be the same. I recommend this book to anyone who is seeking higher truth outside of organized religion or trying to reconcile science and religion.
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2005
The title of the book is a direct quotation from Jesus in response to a question from the Pharisees who wanted to know when the kingdom would come. Jesus said that the kingdom of God was there at that time, not in some future time. That was his message time and again. Yet there are pie in the sky "Christians" who are still looking for signs of the "coming" kingdom in direct opposition to Jesus' simple but true teaching.
Tolstoy points out the true teachings of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount, to the title of his book. He then compares that to the way that "Christianity" was taught all over the world in 1894 (today too) and concludes correctly that what is being taught is actually in opposition to the real teachings of Jesus, or more appropriately, anti Christ teachings, and not Christianity.
Tolstoy's writing is lucid, inspiring, and real. Anyone who denies its message will have to deny the real teachings of Jesus, which have been deliberately twisted into an arm of church and state power. Tolstoy points out just how that has in fact been so perverted.
Best secular book on Christianity ever written and just as true today as it was in 1894.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2006
Leo Tolstoy had a midlife crisis at age 50, and decided that he had to find the meaning of life or else commit suicide. He found it in the teachings of Jesus. No, I mean he really actually found the meaning of life, like not just for him, for everyone. He then totally revamped his life, becoming a heroic figure.
Jesus was a pacifist. Since governments have military, any true pacifist is necessarily against government. "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand" means - "change your way of life, for the secular kingdoms of the world are about to be replaced by a united divine kingdom." Tolstoy profoundly appeals to the conscience of the reader to do what is right, from the spirit of God and truth within you, instead of what is in your personal interest.
Tolstoy's Christianity is not that of a Church, but that of Jesus, especially from the Sermon on the Mount. Most so-called Christians largely ignore the teachings of Jesus (e.g. nonviolence!!!) and concentrate more on salvation, faith, Church dogma and tradition, Paul's letters to the Corinthians, the Old Testament, miracles, ressurection, etc.
When reading it, you will find that the things Tolstoy says jump out at you as strikingly and undeniably true. Tolstoy also displays his pure brilliance and tremendous compassion. This book inspired Gandhi to become the great peace advocate he was.
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 1998
First I couldn't put it down! I never expected it to catch and hold me with such power! It is a book that can change your thinking on many, many things, ie. governments, armies, organized religeon, land owners, employers etc.
Never have I read a more practical and down to earth reason for the use of nonviolent protest in correcting social ills. It works !
He loved Christ! I had to stop reading and reread Christ's "Sermon On the Mount" from the book of Matthew to fully grasp what Tolstoy was saying. The thought of never striking back no matter what someone else does to you has never been a part of my personality....up to now. It makes so much sence! Can I do it? It's worth trying and worth telling why.
Great, great book. The fact that it was written over 100 years ago doesn't lessen its freshness. The book is timeless. Anyone interested in truth will love it. You will be challenged.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2005
I first learned of Tolstoy and this book after reading Gandhi's book "All Men are Brothers"
Tolstoy sets out a challenging interpretation of Christ's teachings, namely, that all violence is a crime against God, as God lives in each person. Technically, in each living thing, as Tolstoy himself was a vegetarian for this very reason. He articulates that it is not merely the obvious violence of war which is a crime; it can also be violence committed through the use of courts or even through taxation. Even the threat of violence is tantamount to violence in Tolstoy's view; there may not be violence when taxes are collected, but there is an implicit use of violence behind their collection. Similarly, the use of the court system may not be violence in and of itself, but the threat of violence if its rules are not followed.
If nothing else, this book will make you think. I would advise reading it with an open mind. Few people will ever be able to follow the ideology or philosophy Tolstoy espouses to the level that Gandhi did, but that does not mean each and every one of us should not try. I am reminded of the saying "men use the North Star as a guide, but they never expect to reach it." Similarly here, Tolstoy points out to us the North Star; whether or not we reach it is up to us as individuals.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2009
Very well written and informative, but very repetitive in some spots. I can see how this book would inspire someone like Ghandi to devote his life to fighting social injustice. It is also a good reminder that Jesus means what he says. Many people try to reinterpret or circumvent the Sermon on the Mount, saying things such as "It's holding up an impossible standard." All I can say to that is, "Duh." God has asked his people to do things that are impossible without Him.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2006
If you read one book, read this. If you are on a spiritual quest, this book will set you on the right path. Tolstoy is brilliant, full stop. As a Russian Orthodox person who is disillusioned with the Church and the state of Christianity, I found this book clarifying and life changing. If it was good enough for Ghandi, it's good enough for me! This book contains the essence of true Christianity and comes from a man who spent his life agonizing over religion and the meaning of life. Brilliant!