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Penguin Classics War And Peace [Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy , Rosemary Edmonds
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 29 2003 Penguin Classics
Details the invasion of Russia by Napoleon and his army.

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About the Author

Count Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born in 1828. He wrote THE SEBASTOPOL SKETCHES in 1855-6, WAR AND PEACE in 1865-8, ANNA KARENINA in 1874-6 and A CONFESSION in 1879-82. He died in 1910. Translated by Rosemary Edmonds --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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'Mercy on us, what a violent attack!' Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 19th century soap opera April 30 2004
To fully appreciate this novel, you need to read the unabridged version, not Cliff Notes or some other shortcut used by students. You need to set aside a significant period of time for this (when I first read the novel 40 years ago, I used a week long break between school terms). The story is about a Russian nobel family and their friends and associates over an extended period of time. Young children grow up, get married, have children, and take over the family estates. It is set during (and after) the Napoleonic Wars, the setting being in Russia (to a very large extent in Moscow, but some on country estates).
Tolstoy was a member of the nobility and, by standards of the day, could have been considered a social reformer trying to improve the lot of the peasants. You will usually find a character in his novels that reflects his own attitudes (but not the principal character). He wrote and published novels in installments. To produce this properly in a film media would require making a lengthy TV series, somewhat like "Upstairs, Downstairs." I am surprised that has not been done.
The novel covers the rise and fall of the fortunes of the family and the people around them. The family's fortunes are shattered by a variety of circumstances including bad management of money and the French invasion. Partly the head of the family puts the welfare of others ahead of his own family. When the French are at the gates of Moscow, and they have wagons to save their belongings, they leave their own possessions behind in order to use the wagons to rescue wounded Russian soldiers.
Eventually, the next generation is left with the task of salvaging what remains and restoring the family fortunes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ahhh - this takes me back Feb. 29 2004
By H. Lim
Back in 1996 I was 15 years old and idly began to read a very cheap edition of War and Peace.
Certainly it had an appalling cover, and had spelling and typesetting mistakes, and the font was too small, but still - I had discovered a brilliant translation of a brilliant book. It took me three months to read it. I don't have a clue how I did it, or why - but the book made a big impression on me.
Eight years later, and the book still wows me.
Very roughly, the book describes the interactions between five prominent aristocratic families in Russia as they live through the Napoleonic Wars (1804-1815).
Trying to describe the plot of War and Peace is like trying to describe the "plot" of a zoo or a botanical park. The events are presented shapelessly and meanderingly, with little apparent structure.
It is character rather than event that makes this book memorable. No one could define character and moivation like Tolstoy. His characters are always ensnared by their own character traits, which are made clear to the audience by their reactions to events.
One scene has the teenaged Nicholas Rostov, who is very close to his father, incur a gambling debt - something he did not habitually do. He has toi get his father to pay it. At first he decides to throw himself on his father's mercy - but of course, he is a young soldier, trying to prove he is grown up. So he pretends to be arrogant and coldly tells his father of the debt; and asks him to pay it. "It happens to everyone" he says brusquely, although he feels awful saying it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "the Iliad of Russia....." Jan. 31 2004
....as someone dubbed it (Trotsky?), although with exquisitely human characters rather than archetypal gods and heroes. The film GETTYSBURG comes to mind, but stripped of all the "why we fight" rahrah.
Those who read history know that by the early 1800s, Napoleon had captured most of Europe. Only the discipline and seamanship of the Royal Navy had kept him from swallowing all of it. In his grandiosity he lined up his next target, fabled Moscow, sent in the army, burned the city; but Russia was the rock upon which his Grand Armee shattered. By the time it ran back to France, most of its vitality lay dying in the Russian winter. That's the historical context of the novel.
For me the start was a slow read--all those balls and drawing rooms and Russian high society--but only until realizing that Tolstoy was setting the stage, introducing key characters, and making an ironic contrast between the insulated world of the nobility and the blood and death that would soon pierce it.
What stood out most for me: people and events. What a gallery of people: the parasitic Anna Mihalovna and her insipid son Boris; the callous Don Juanism of Anatole; his psychopathic friend Dolohov; Sonya, clever but faded; the unstoppable Denisov, the Wobin Hood of Wussia ("Weload!"); Prince Andrei, fated for a moment of battlefield transcendence in which even Napoleon seems paltry and limited; girlish Natasha; and Pierre, living proof of William Blake's dictum that excess can lead to wisdom.
In charge of the Russian army: Field Marshal Kutuzov, as weary and patient as the ground he defended. The clever and enduring peasant Karatayev might serve as his spiritual counterpart, the first an exemplar of the Russian heart, the second a bearer of its soul.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very realistic novel
I had put off reading War and Peace for years as the length of the book seemed intimidating. That was a big mistake. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Dave McCullough
5.0 out of 5 stars WRONG TITLE!!!
Unbelievable, simply unbelievable that the geniuses at the American Literary Society, or wherever the hell they translated the title of this novel, that they would do it... Read more
Published on June 29 2004 by "zeugene2006"
4.0 out of 5 stars Long as heck, but a good read!
What is Power? What is the power which moves nations? This is the ultimate question of War and Peace. The growth of the characters is amazing. Totally recomended.
Published on June 11 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best
This book is so trancendent, sublime, and all encompassing. Words are not enough. No novel is more thought provoking or rewarding. Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2004 by some guy
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Classic
Plot and history intertwined. It's long but fascinating. I read it for a class, and I could read the basics, then go back and enjoy it all. Everyone should read.
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by R. Hahn
4.0 out of 5 stars One More Time.....
After reading such a huge book, it's tempting to congratulate oneself and then accord it the status of a great piece of literature (perhaps the argument running that it must have... Read more
Published on Dec 17 2003 by MR G. Rodgers
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfectly isosceles novel
Through Tolstoy's mastery of device, confutation, and liminality, we are graced in this age with easily available wisdom from a great sage of the "Pleh" era. Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2003 by Nanx Hedwerp
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised--Very good!
I checked War and Peace out from my school library (I'm a 7th grader--yes, that's what I said) because I wanted to be able to say that I had read War and Peace. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A book full of life
This novel covers fifteen years in the lives of several noble families from early XIX-century Russia, at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2003 by Guillermo Maynez
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite a diversion for masterful piece on human destiny.
Tolstoy's characters are universal. One can imagine human spirit as a "space" in the mathematical sense. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2003 by N. Delen
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