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War and Peace Hardcover – International Edition, April 1, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
Alfred A. Knopf, publisher
This review is broken down into two segments, a Descriptive Summary and an Evaluative Summary. If you're already very familiar with the story of "War and Peace," you may wish to skip directly to the latter facet of my review which is essentially the critique of this particular volume.
In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Austria to expand his European empire. Russia, being an ally of Austria, stood with their brethren against the infamous Emperor. Napoleon prevailed and a treaty was ultimately signed at Tilsit. In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia, again in an effort to expand his empire. The end result of this tragic war was that Napoleon's army of about 600,000 soldiers was reduced to roughly 60,000 men as the defamed Emperor raced from Moscow (which he had taken), back across the frozen Russian tundra in his carriage (leaving his troops behind to fend for themselves) for Paris. That encapsulizes the military aspect of this work.
But the more intricate story involves both the activities and the peccadillos of, primarily, three Russian families of nobility: The Rostovs, the Bolkonskys, and the Bezukovs. The continual thorn of "The Antichrist," Napoleon, really just provides the wallpaper for this story of romance, riches, desolation, love, jealousy, hatred, retribution, joy, naiivety, stupidity and so much more. Tolstoy has woven an incredibly intricate web that interconnects these noble families, the wars, and the common Russian people to a degree that would seem incomprehensible to achieve - but Tolstoy perseveres with superb clarity and great insight to the human psyche.Read more ›
I have read this book many times in Russian and in the Maudes' translation. I always end by thanking Tolstoy for writing the best novel of them all, and the Maudes for their tireless work in translating it for those not fortunate enough to read it in the original.
I have to say that I spent far too much energy worrying. War and Peace is extremely readable and once I got over the initial "how many pages?" response, it actually flew by too quickly.
I generally hate it when a review of a book says that it has "something for everybody". But I guess that when a book is this long, you can actually make that claim without being ridiculous. This book is so many things-- a love story, a story about war, a comment on Russian society at the time of writing, an observation of social/class change, a meditation on politics, and (last but not least) an attempt to define this notion and nature of history. It is hard to imagine that any reader could fail to find something that moved him or her. I found that I enjoyed all of it, even the battle scenes, in more or less equal measure.
In short, do not be put off by the daunting size! It is deservedly called a classic, and a book that should be on every readers must-read list.
I liked the Maude translation, I have to say. I found it clear and very readable. I chose it because it was the translation that had been approved by Tolstoy during his lifetime. That at least made it seem to be a safe place to begin.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story. Read it all winter, took four months. It was a russian mini series. I could live without the bonus material, this kindle copy has lots of typos. Read morePublished 18 hours ago by chucky's mom
X-ray descriptions of people's characters,lives, relationships. And the battle description are in IMAX. Translation so,so. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Nicholas Stamatiadis
I felt the book was way too long. Enjoyed some of it but war is not my thing. Didn't care for the epilogs at the end.Published 1 day ago by Karen Brouse
I love this book! This version is well done. The mix of Russian and English is well done, easily read.Published 2 days ago by ht
War and Peace is always a challenge. Russians are very introspective about themselves and Tolstoy certainly does that well. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Pat
War and Peace takes place from 1805 to 1812 during the Napoleonic Wars that ravaged Europe. It primarily follows the lives of several Russian aristocratic families as they live... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Andrew
War and Peace is worth the time it takes to read. The Pevear and Volokonsky translation is great. It reads slightly awkward in English because they attempt to replicate and... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
A classic that all generation's should read. A great insight into Russian history.Published 7 days ago by Amazon Customer