War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

In Russia’s struggle with Napoleon, Tolstoy saw a tragedy that involved all mankind. Greater than a historical chronicle, War and Peace is an affirmation of life itself, `a complete picture’, as a contemporary reviewer put it, `of everything in which people find their happiness and greatness, their grief and humiliation’. Tolstoy gave his personal approval to this translation, published here in a new single volume edition, which includes an introduction by Henry Gifford, and Tolstoy’s important essay `Some Words about War and Peace’

“…man’s greatest happiness lies in struggling to achieve them [truth and goodness]. We must live, love and believe.” – Tolstoy

This novel has taken up four and half months to finish reading. It’s hard to write a short review for such a long book but I must say that I’m glad I read it.

My book has tags all throughout the book because there were so many moments where the writing resonated with me. This book may appear to be about the Napoleonic War in Russia, but it is actually more about life, the lack of control we have or felt (during war and peace), it explores the meaning and purpose of life and an in-depth exploration of the human condition during times of war, and peace. I enjoyed each of the character’s reflection on their life and choices. Parts of the novel contains Tolstoy’s point of view in an almost essay form, which is very un-novel like. I was surprised by how liberally Tolstoy used his narrator’s voice in the book to share his views about the war and life in general.

It was an interesting read despite being someone who doesn’t really like war themed books, however I can see why this is a very important and relevant novel to read as it contains many great reflections on life, war, happiness and purpose.

-NJ