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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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Customer Reviews

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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 Very realistic novel Sept. 20 2013
I had put off reading War and Peace for years as the length of the book seemed intimidating. That was a big mistake. It is one of those books that you can't wait to sit down with every chance you get. To me it was a good insight into what Russia endured under the French invasion.

I had read a few books regarding Wellington's Peninsular campaign against Napoleon and War and Peace complements those quite well. Amazing how much Napoleon was hated in Europe in those times, and for good reason. He set back European progress at least a generation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Nov. 17 2002
Deserving of its reputation, it's brilliant in all ways. The war scenes and the high society scenes and the characters and the relationships are all drawn perfectly, with the irresistibly charming character of Natasha as a high point among many high points. I haven't reread the whole thing, but I have found myself picking up the novel to reread certain scenes. One caveat: I was warned about the swarm of characters that fill the book, so made sure to write down the page on which each character is introduced, so when a character's name came up again, I could refer to my homemade "index" and flip right to that page for a refresher, thus sparing myself flipping around endlessly. I advise you do the same.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Skinning a whale April 11 2001
It isn't enough. That's my starting point. It isn't enough to say this is the greatest novel ever written. Or: this is not the greatest novel ever written. Certainly when I'm told that size matters, I disagree. The great artists - the people I regard as great artists - aspire to brevity. Great artists don't say everything. Or rather, great artists don't feel the need to use fifty gazillion words to get the point across. Great artists (I'm labouring this, I know, but: think Beckett, think Kundera, think Borges) aspire to brevity because in brevity you have the pure unadulterated moment. Think Keats. The kiss that never was. You with me?
Second thing. Actually no. The second thing can wait. Because, importantly, this is "War & Peace". This isn't a walk in the park. This is one of the towering novelistic achievements. This isn't regarded as one of the great books of the century. This is regarded as one of the greatest books ever. If you don't start reading with open eyes and an open mind, you might just let that trick you. You might just let that convince you that any - gulp - failing you chance across is your fault and not Tolstoy's. Before that second thing. An obvious thing. Tolstoy was only a man. All Tolstoy did was write a huge book. Okay? Don't be afraid. Just look out for the others.
Because that's the second thing. Reading "War & Peace" - getting all the way through from page one to page fourteen hundred and whatever (excuse me, I'm not going to get up, take the book down and look, there are more than fourteen hundred pages, that's all you need to know) - is an accomplishment. Unfortunately that accomplishment can be a little like climbing Everest without oxygen. By the time you're done, you think all life is here.
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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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Most recent customer reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars "the Iliad of Russia....."
....as someone dubbed it (Trotsky?), although with exquisitely human characters rather than archetypal gods and heroes. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2004 by Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TERRAPSYCHOLOGY and DEEP CALIFORNIA
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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