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War and Peace Hardcover – May 17 1994

4.7 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Hardcover, May 17 1994
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1408 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Revised ed. edition (May 17 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679600841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679600848
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 5.6 x 20.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #379,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“There remains the greatest of all novelists—for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?” —Virginia Woolf

From the Inside Flap

Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic Wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy's genius is seen clearly in the multitude of characters in this massive chronicle--all of them fully realized and equally memorable. Out of this complex narrative emerges a profound examination of the individual's place in the historical process, one that makes it clear why Thomas Mann praised Tolstoy for his Homeric powers and placed War and Peace in the same category as the Iliad": "To read him . . . is to find one's way home . . . to everything within us that is fundamental and sane." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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By A Customer on Aug. 25 1999
Format: Hardcover
Although my blind urge to read the Great Classics has (thankfully) faded somewhat over the years in favor of reading whatever I damn please, I finally decided it was time to give War and Peace a try. After all, how can anyone who enjoys novels resist the lure of "the greatest novel of all time"? And Tolstoy himself was an unusually interesting man -- not a screwed-up genius but one who seemed to eventually figure it all out. It took me maybe a hundred pages to get into the rhythm of the book and figure out who all those characters with multisyllabic Russian names were. After that, it was totally engrossing and surprisingly easy reading. There's no point giving you a book report on what happens -- you're supposed to read it yourself -- but I do disagree with some of the other reviewers who didn't care for the sections describing Tolstoy's philosophy of history. I found those sections (a very small proportion of the book) fascinating, albeit a change of pace. This is part of what makes the book great. War and Peace is not just a story of what happens to a bunch of made-up people, but a major work of art expressing the wisdom of a great man.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read a lot of books and so I've scrabbled together a fairly intelligent idea of what a great book is; the definition has always been complicated and hard to explain, but I really needn't have bothered. The concept can be summed up in only three words: "War and Peace".
This is, simply, what all novels want to be when they grow up. The novel format is as varied as the writers who attempt it---to call "War and Peace" and "Ulysses" examples of the same art form seems ridiculous, but it's true---but ultimately a novel is a story about humans that explains what humanity is, or might be, or could have been; through these characters whose adventures you're following, you might learn something about what it means to be a human being. Every art form is about this experience, but only the novel can really hunker down and explore humanity in all its billions of shapes. You can learn not only facts and feelings but you can learn TIME by spending it in these pages. You can learn GROWTH. You can learn LIFE.
The main characters in "War and Peace" are Pierre Bezuhov, Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, and Natasha Rostov, three Russians caught in the middle of the war between their country and France in the years 1805 to 1813. Through them we meet dozens if not hundreds more characters, and through those dozens or hundreds we simply meet humanity itself. There's no other way to express it. The way Tolstoy tells us about his characters shows us ourselves; the identification is that strong. When a character falls, in battle or from old age, we feel that someone we know personally is gone, and we mourn them as though we couldn't simply flip back a few pages and resurrect them.
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Format: Paperback
I put off reading this for years, though I'd taken on other books such as CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and some other Russian literature. Frankly, the size put me off, but once started, I couldn't put it down. I was amazed that any author could so hold my attention with a story. Yes, it rambles a bit in places, but this was written in a time when people savored books and really got into the things.

There are a number of sub-plots in this great classic, and of course a love story, but it's really about humanity and the observations that Tolstoy makes about the human race, both then and now---as they are really the same---for better or worse, are incredible. What's scary is that we've not changed all that much. The uselessness of war, the greed, the corruption, and even the hope---they're all there in this book, just as they are with us today.

WAR AND PEACE should be read not because it is a classic but because it is a great book.
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By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME on Feb. 28 2006
Format: Paperback
How does one do justice to a work as monumental and vast as Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' in the short space this review grants? Indeed, I toyed with the idea of trying to encapsulate this epic work in 100 words, but failed. I do know of one review of 'War and Peace' that was even shorter; it read:
Napoleon invaded.
It snowed.
Napolean failed.
Russia won.
Perhaps that does encapsulate it. Tolstoy would have probably respected such as description, for, as verbose as he and other Russia novelists seemed to be (given a purely page-count analysis), he appreciated brevity and essentialism in the description.
This holds true for 'War and Peace'. I was amazed at the lack of what one might hold to be extraneous detailing in the text -- I would have expected long, drawn out and tedious renderings of situations, emotions or events, but such is not the case.
In Tolstoy's following of the Rostovs (poor country gentry) and the Bolkonskis (higher society), and a hero Pierre Bezuhkov, he illustrates basic truths in the way life is lived, and the way it ought to be lived. Tolstoy was a moralist, but no mystic in his writing (unusually so, given his general mystical sentiments in life). He felt it absolutely essential that the novelist should tell the truth, and mystical digressions lead away from that. His characters grow as we watch, and he recounts details that are important (such as Natasha and her doll as a child, and then later Natasha going to church -- these are two ages of the same person, to be sure, but not a simple updating of the character, as if an actress wearing a different costume).
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