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War And Peace (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – June 5, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828, in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Orphaned at nine, he was brought up by an elderly aunt and educated by French tutors until he matriculated at Kazan University in 1844. In 1847, he gave up his studies and, after several aimless years, volunteered for military duty in the army, serving as a junior officer in the Crimean War before retiring in 1857. In 1862, Tolstoy married Sophie Behrs, a marriage that was to become, for him, bitterly unhappy. His diary, started in 1847, was used for self-study and self-criticism; it served as the source from which he drew much of the material that appeared not only in his great novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), but also in his shorter works. Seeking religious justification for his life, Tolstoy evolved a new Christianity based upon his own interpretation of the Gospels. Yasnaya Polyana became a mecca for his many converts At the age of eighty-two, while away from home, the writer suffered a break down in his health in Astapovo, Riazan, and he died there on November 20, 1910.

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Product Details

  • Series: Signet Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 1456 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451530543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451530547
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) wrote two of the great novels of the nineteenth century, War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the
Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war,
if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by
that Antichrist--I really believe he is Antichrist--I will have
nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer
my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see
I have frightened you--sit down and tell me all the news."

- Anna Pavlovna in War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

It was 1805 and the novel opens up at a reception given by Anna. With these words she greeted Prince Vasili Kuragin who we learn in the novel is a personage of stature and importance among the St. Petersburg elite.

Anna is referring to Napoleon as the antichrist, she feels that he is routing Europe; and that the king of Russia, Alexander I, must save them all against this terrible and dreadful man.

And so begins one of the most famous masterpieces of all time.

WAR AND PEACE has a simple plot which encompasses the valiant attempts by the Russian people to hold off a military invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte and the French. Some of the segments of the novel deal with war strategy which could have benefited leaders if they simply perhaps had read Tolstoy.

As the story begins we find that the Russians have formed an unlikely alliance with the Austrians. Because of this alliance, we find the small and inadequate Russian army having to march from Moscow to Austria. That in of itself is daunting.

This alliance falters at best and as a consequence the Russian army loses almost all of its army resulting oddly enough in several years of peace.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm not a big classics reader. I look for books with great stories and characters--books that provide entertainment, not just material for study. I'm pleased to report that War and Peace works on both levels, that it is honestly a great read. It's a long book but absolutely readable and worth the effort.

As most potential readers probably know, the book follows several Russian families from 1805 to 1812 (spending a lot of time in that last year, when Napoleon invaded Russia). It deals with nearly every aspect of life at the time--there are battles, of course, but also plenty of daily life, parties, hunting, courting and so on. Some readers argue that there's too much here, but I think it's all enjoyable and useful in some way, provided you're comfortable with long books. The time devoted to character development, scene-setting and so forth definitely pays off, and the chapters themselves are quite short, so something new is always happening.

Really, this book deserves its superlatives, and there's not much I can say that hasn't already been said. I will add that this book taught me a lot about war; most novels gloss over the confusion of battle, for instance, but it's clear that Tolstoy learned a lot from his war experience, and probably does a better job writing about it than any other novelist I've read. This book will leave you with a better understanding not just of how war worked in the 19th century, but of how it works in general.

On a related point, many of Tolstoy's insights into human nature are just astounding. This is someone who really understands how people operate. I can't even count how many times I reacted to some statement with, "hey, that's so true! Why have I never read that in a book before?" High praise indeed.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is always a pleasure to force oneself to read a "classic" and discover that it is a classic because it is masterfully written, impossible to put down, and deals with the most important pieces of life. Such a pleasure was reading Tolstoy's "War and Peace." Others have said that War and Peace covers every imaginable piece of human life. I can't disagree. Tolstoy sweeps from the campy drawing-room comedy that opens the novel to the incompetence of the military across the ages, the role of mystical awakening, the loss of romantic innocence, and a proto-Deleuzean view of history that argues that the search for cause and effect will always fall short of obtaining the truth. I feel sure that everyone will pick a different character with whom to identify (I found myself closest to Pierre, probably because I feel close to Tolstoy the man as well.) Don't be intimidated by the length - you will want to keep reading all 1400 pages. Or at least I give you permission to skip the battle tactics part. It's OK.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Who has enough spare time to write a proper review of a >1400 page tome like this? Maybe a few people, but I won't even attempt it. Here are a few of my comments:

This is partly a history book and partly a drama, in alternating sections. The portions that are historically accurate in narrative (except for the involvement of the main characters) describe Napoleon's invasion of Russia, capture of Moscow, and subsequent retreat. As with all events observed before the invention of still & video photography, accounts of the war varied depending on the perspective and mindset of the observer / author. Tolstoy's descriptions of motives / actions / results in the battles during the campaign differed considerably from other accounts of the period. It is to Tolstoy's credit (posthumous) that historians later incorporated many of his viewpoints & descriptions into the modern consensus account of the war.

I greatly preferred the war portions of the novel to the drama portions. While reading the drama sections I never really got engrossed and kept wanting to get back to the war. The characters in the drama didn't seem to speak or act in a realistic fashion; many, such as Pierre & Natasha, were clearly idealized or at least embodied the extreme of the type of character that Tolstoy wanted to portray. In reality, people generally have mixtures of several different personality types and as a result end up being an extreme of none of them. Nonetheless, the story in the drama held my attention and contained several unexpected emotional moments.
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