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War And Peace (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – June 5, 2007
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've had to look up a few words, but I love this book so much I've read it twice. It's two books in one! You have a war novel and a romantic novel. Read morePublished on February 9, 2014 by S. Wilson
I loved this book, what can I say it is a classic and a must read! David hasn't told me if he liked this book yet, more to come.Published on December 9, 2013 by martina
I first read War and Peace when I was sixteen. I was captivated by Natasha, and I skimmed hurriedly through Tolstoy's ruminations about history and the conduct of war. Read morePublished on May 20, 2010 by Katherine Harms
I started reviewing the top 100 best books and this is up there. This is simply one of the best books you will ever read...it will take you a while.Published on March 17, 2010 by Steve
I first read this book because my mother kept going on and on about me needing to read more classic literature, but when i started reading it I was amazed. Read morePublished on July 5, 2009 by Maggie
This novel is a classic! I received it well within the estimated time frame and in EXCELLENT condition. Read morePublished on June 17, 2009 by Natasha Rosewitt
Reviewing classics is always a touchy thing to do... but I'm so freakin proud of myself for reading this book that I had to document it some way. How did I do it? Read morePublished on January 23, 2009 by Ravenskya
Tolstoy goes far beyond just hitting the peaks of the story but also, writes at length on the hills, valleys, and everything in between (the material that other authors leave out). Read morePublished on January 1, 2009 by Scott Walker