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War and Peace (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 29, 1982


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 1472 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (July 29, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444179
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 5.1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Epic historical novel by Leo Tolstoy, originally published as Voyna i mir in 1865-69. This panoramic study of early 19th-century Russian society, noted for its mastery of realistic detail and variety of psychological analysis, is generally regarded as one of the world's greatest novels. War and Peace is primarily concerned with the histories of five aristocratic families--particularly the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskys, and the Rostovs--the members of which are portrayed against a vivid background of Russian social life during the war against Napoleon (1805-14). The theme of war, however, is subordinate to the story of family existence, which involves Tolstoy's optimistic belief in the life-asserting pattern of human existence. The heroine, Natasha Rostova, for example, reaches her greatest fulfillment through her marriage to Pierre Bezukhov and her motherhood. The novel also sets forth a theory of history, concluding that there is a minimum of free choice; all is ruled by an inexorable historical determinism. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The characters came alive and the story was fascinating.
Utah Mom
If I had to pick only one novel that I would ever be able to read again, it would have to be War and Peace.
Doug Vaughn
A long read but one so hard to put down and so sad when the book ended.
alyssa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

415 of 423 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Dalman on December 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ever since I was a teen (I'm 51) I tried reading War and Peace. The furthest I ever got was something like Page 80. Six summers ago, I thought, what the heck, give it another shot. After Page 100 or so, the book picked up steam, and I was absolutely awed as I've seldom been by all the great books I've read in my life. That's what I want to share with potential readers of this great book. Stick with it. It's like a trickling stream that grows and grows from many tributaries into a grand wide raging river. It's got everything in it, as if it were written by God. Tolstoy saw everything. There are so many, many unforgettable scenes in it. My favorite two are the costume party at the country estate (pure magic!) and the great wolf-hunting scene in which the wolf actually takes on a personality under the all-knowing skill of Tolstoy's great pen. In just a line or two, Tolstoy could actually get inside the "soul" of even an animal! I can only imagine how great this book is in the original Russian. After War and Peace, I devoured Anna Karenina, which is in many ways an even greater book. I'd recommend people read War and Peace with Cliff's Notes, as I did, because you get a sense of the historical background and it helps you from getting the hundreds of characters mixed up. War and Peace is more than a novel. It's an Everest of creation. Please stick with it!
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298 of 312 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on December 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first tried to read War and Peace in High School. A teacher, who had carried the book all through the Pacific campaign in WWII recommended it as a book that had changed his life. I tried three times and couldn't get past a few hundred pages because of the numerous characters - each with multiple names. The fourth time I stuck with it and was rewarded with a reading experience that has seldom been equaled. Since that time I have reread the book every two or three years, so I must have been through it 15 or more times, and each time I find things I haven't noticed before.
This is such a grand book in terms of number of characters in all levels of Russian society, historical scope, period detail, philosophical implications, romance, drama, tragedy, action etc, etc, etc. There is just no way to enumerate all that is appealing about Tolstoy's masterpiece. The main characters are as humanly complex and interesting as real people. I feel that I know them like friends. The plot(s) are involving and get more tight and interconnected as the book progresses, so that there is a great satisfaction as various threads come together, and never with the jarring coincidences that propel a typical Dickins novel.
If I had to pick only one novel that I would ever be able to read again, it would have to be War and Peace. There is so much of interest going on in this book that it would be hard to wear it out in a lifetime.
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244 of 259 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Over the 4-week period it took me to read "War and Peace", I was asked several times by friends and co-workers who saw me with the book why it was so long. At first, I really didn't have a good answer although I felt I knew why. Having finished it, I would tell them that its length is due to its being a very thorough novel covering almost every aspect of life in general. This could be said about several books obviously, but in "War and Peace", Tolstoy covers human life more thoroughly than, although maybe not as well as, any other book I've encountered.
"War and Peace" lets us follow along in the daily lives of several land-owning class characters from early 19th Century Russia. The Bolkonsky and Rostov families comprise most of these figures, but their friends and acquaintances take up nearly as much of the focus of Tolstoy's classic novel. These characters cover a wide range of personalities from the devoutly religious Maria Bolkonsky and her close and conflicted friend Natasha Rostov to the independent Pierre Bezuhov and his miserable wife Helene Kuragin. Tolstoy is able to go in and out of his creations' lives with simplicity and without exaggeration, whether its in relating the most common moments of their daily lives or the climaxes of their earthly existences. The range of emotions, feelings, and actions that Tolstoy is able to relate is easily done through his genius in setting the story in the midst of Russia's War of 1812 (the history of which he knew very well), one of the worst in its long history. It's through such a life-shattering event that people can be seen everywhere from their best to their very worst, and Tolstoy, through a compelling story line and the novel's famous length, displays the entire spectrum.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on May 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Oh, if I only I could read Russian! It would be worth learning that language to read this book in its original language. Tolstoy is well known for several books he wrote, but "War and Peace" is his crowning achievement. Out of all the distinguished works of Russian literature (Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, and others), "War and Peace" is the Atlas that holds all the others upon its shoulders. It beckons you to conquer its sheer size and scope, and its reputation is one of the most formidable in literary history. Surprisingly, War and Peace is not difficult, and is a cracking good tale.
An adequate summary of the book, in 1000 words, is impossible. Tolstoy places his characters in the context of the Napoleonic wars. His emphasis is on three "characters": the Bolkonsky family, the Rostov family, and Pierre Bezuhov. Along the way, dozens of other characters appear: Denisov, Dolohov, Helene, Kutuzov (my favorite), and Anatole quickly spring to mind. Even Napoleon and the Russian Tsar Alexander make appearances. All aspects of life appear, in one carefully crafted scene after another. Love, death, marriage, children, combat; all come together into a seamless whole. Saying that these people become real through Tolstoy's pen is an understatement. Despite the different time frame and different society, their struggles are our struggles. Pierre's search for meaning in life will find many sympathizers in our fast-paced world. Andrei's death scene is achingly realistic, and it you aren't touched in some way by it, you should check your pulse. Even Natasha, the hyper vivacious Rostov who grows into a responsible family matriarch, is a recognizable figure in today's world (as anyone who knows teenage girls can attest).
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