War and Peace

War and Peace

by Leo Tolstoy

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The great writers of the last two centuries have competed with each other to heap praise on Leo Tolstoy and War and Peace. "What an artist and what a psychologist!"-- Gustave Flaubert, Tolstoy's contemporary, on reading War and Peace. More recently, Virginia Woolf commented "There remains the greatest of all novelists, for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?"

Louise and Aylmer Maude, the translators of this edition, knew Tolstoy personally, and he approved this translation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140955408
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 01/25/1979
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Amy Mandelker, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, has written books and articles on Russian literature and literary theory and was the editor of the Tolstoy Studies Journal. Her books include Framing Anna Karenina: Tolstoy, the Woman Question and the Novel of Adultery (1993) and Approaches to World Literature: Teaching Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina', co-edited with Liza Knapp (2003).

Date of Birth:

September 9, 1828

Date of Death:

November 20, 1910

Place of Birth:

Tula Province, Russia

Place of Death:

Astapovo, Russia


Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47

Read an Excerpt

WELL, PRINCE, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family. No, I warn you, that if you do not tell me we are at war, if you again allow yourself to palliate all the infamies and atrocities of this Antichrist (upon my word, I believe he is), I don’t know you in future, you are no longer my friend, no longer my faithful slave, as you say. There, how do you do, how do you do? I see I’m scaring you, sit down and talk to me.”

Excerpted from "War and Peace"
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Copyright © 2017 Leo Tolstoy.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents

Introduction vii(10)
Note on the Translation xvii(1)
Select Bibliography xviii(1)
Chronology of Leo Tolstoy xix(2)
Principal Characters and Guide to Pronunciation xxi(2)
Dates of Principal Events xxiii(1)
Chapter Contents xxix
Appendix: 'Some Words about War and Peace' 1307(10)
Notes 1317

Reading Group Guide

Leo Tolstoy said, “It is not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle.” Henry James ranked it among those “large loose baggy monsters” and added, “Tolstoy is a reflector as vast as a natural lake; a monster harnessed to his great subject—all human life!” But whatever we call it, War and Peace is an astonishing work—a book that incorporates historical characters, vivid battle scenes, several love stories, shrewd glimpses of everyday life, an examination of Western ideas and the Russian soul, and a disquisition on the nature of history itself, among other things. It is at once a book of ideas and an epic portrait of ordinary life amid extraordinary circumstances.

Pierre Bezukhov and Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, are the book’s central characters, but their stories are just two of many threads. Pierre, big, clumsy, and big-hearted, is a naïve searcher after big truths—a French-educated liberal who unexpectedly inherits a title and great wealth, gets pushed into a disastrous marriage, dabbles in Freemasonry, becomes obsessed with assassinating Napoleon, and finally finds a measure of peace in the stoic, here-and-now outlook of a saintly peasant.

Andrey is Pierre’s friend, but almost his total opposite. Though strongly impelled to do good, Andrey possesses a cold, cynical intelligence that sees through the self-serving pretensions and illusions of the men he encounters at court and in the army—not to mention those of his tyrannical father and pious sister. He is incapable of playing politics or indulging in sentimental delusions; he would rather do his duty, fight—and die. It is only in his wrenching love affair with Natasha Rostov—sparked by her incandescent spirit, interrupted by a bitter scandal, and then rekindled as he lies dying—that Andrey finds hope and, ultimately, a kind of transcendence.

The Rostov family—Natasha, her brother Nikolay, and her parents—are the book’s other chief characters. They are a seemingly ordinary lot—the father is a sentimental spendthrift, Nikolay a gung-ho cavalryman, and Natasha a spirited naïf. Yet their open-hearted goodness, their innate patriotism, their love of simple pleasures—balls, parties, banquets, hunts, sleigh rides, folk dances—and their heartfelt delights and sorrows offer an ordinary Russian counterweight to the troubled ruminations and erratic peregrinations of Pierre and Andrey.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia—the historical event at the heart of the novel—irrevocably transforms the lives of all of these characters. For some—Andrey and Natasha’s brother Petya, along with many thousands of others—the invasion puts an abrupt end to all dreams of the future. For others—Pierre and Natasha, Nikolay and Andrey’s sister Marya—the invasion brings much dislocation and sadness, but ultimately offers them a second chance at happiness. Like Napoleon, who falsely believes he is directing history, and like General Kutuzov, who wisely lets history direct him, they have all been caught up in a mysterious sweep of people and events—a historical tide that has pushed them inexorably toward a fate that is at once completely determined and utterly surprising.


Leo Tolstoy was born in central Russia in 1828. He studied oriental languages and law (though he failed to earn a degree in the latter) at the University of Kazan and, after a dissolute youth, eventually joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851. He took part in the Crimean War, and the Sebastopol Sketchesthat emerged from it established his reputation. After living for some time in St. Petersburg and abroad, he married Sophie Behrs in 1862 and they had thirteen children. The happiness this brought him gave him the creative impulse for his two greatest novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). Later in life his views became increasingly radical as he gave up his possessions to live a simple peasant life. After a quarrel with his wife he fled home secretly one night to seek refuge in a monastery. He became ill and died during this dramatic flight, at the small railway station of Astapovo, in 1910.

  • What is Tolstoy’s attitude toward his female characters—the doomed, downy-lipped Lise; the beautiful, bewitching Hélène; the love-struck, long-suffering Sonya; the devout, dowdy Marya? And what of Natasha? How do you account for her transformation throughout the book, from her debut as a high-spirited pixie to her final incarnation as a matronly homebody?
  • Pierre’s passionate attachment to the world of ideas takes him from one enthusiasm to another—from free-thinking Francophile to philanthropic Freemason to would-be assassin of the Antichrist, Napoleon. What do you think Pierre is searching for? Why is he invariably ineffective when trying to translate his enthusiasms into practical results? And how has he changed by the end of the book?
  • Platon Karatayev, the peasant who befriends Pierre while both are captives of the French, is a catalyst for Pierre’s transformation into a happy man. What does the worldly sophisticate Pierre learn from this humble man? Is there something uniquely Russian about Karatayev? How does he compare with the other peasants described in the book, such as those at Bald Hills, the Bolkonsky estate?
  • Andrey Bolkonsky’s pride keeps him from stooping to the politicking and self-promotion of other staff officers and court officials—yet it also poisons his relationship with his wife, Lise, with his sister, Marya, and, for much of the book, with his one-time fiancée, Natasha. How does a terrible wound and a lingering illness change his attitude toward Marya, Natasha, and life in general?
  • Tolstoy advances his own theory of history throughout the book and devotes his entire second epilogue to elaborating and defending it. What do you think about his theory of history? How is it expressed through the lives of his book’s characters—both historical and fictional?
  • Napoleon and Kutuzov are a study in contrasts, and it’s clear who Tolstoy thinks is the better man—and the better general. How does Kutuzov achieve victory at Borodino and, ultimately, in Russia? Do you think his style of leadership is truly best in all circumstances?
  • What does Tolstoy have to say about the foibles, follies, and strengths of Russia’s ruling class during a period of supreme crisis? How do the intrigues, protestations, machinations, and proclamations of Kutuzov’s general staff and Alexander’s ministers and diplomats affect the course of the war?
  • Tolstoy’s book is overflowing with vivid scenes—the ball in which Andrey falls in love with Natasha, the hunt at the Rostov estate, and the battle of Borodino, to name a few. What are your favorite scenes from the book? What do they say about the characters involved? About the nature of Russian life at the time? Or about the nature of war and history in general?
  • The book is populated by an array of memorable rogues—the repugnant, grasping Kuragin brothers; the brave, blustering Dolokhov; the ambitious, fickle Boris; among others. Yet none is treated as a cartoon. How does history alter these characters and our perception of them?
  • What do you think Tolstoy would make of our present-day leaders and their attitudes toward history, war, and peace?


Contains approximately 587,000 words.

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War and Peace 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 476 reviews.
luftweg More than 1 year ago
War and Peace is a classic that should not be missed by anyone. Leo Tolstoy is a master story teller. The formatting of this ebook was masterful as well. Very professional and no errors. Worth every penny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The $2.99 ebook is not the Pevear translation and inaccurately reflects an excerpt for that version of the text. The downloaded text in the $2.99 version is highly abridged. Buyer beware!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book and you must take great care to ensure you are getting a copy that suits your requirements. Look for a quality translation - Prevear should do it for most people. I have tried several of the free downloads of this book for my nook and they are quite unreadable. The amount of spelling mistakes is unbelievable - do this book the justice it deserves and treat yourself to a good copy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
WAR AND PEACE successfully captured life's promises, challenges, joys, triumphs, and losses in a way that no other novels has done before and after. In this novel with more characters than any other I can imagine the main characters are Pierre Bezuhov, Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, and Natasha Rostov, who are all affected by the destabilization of the war Napoleon brought upon Russia in the early nineteenth century. It is around them that the other characters revolve. Even though the sheer size of this novel of over a million words may discourage readers to pick it up, the consuming nature of the story keeps a reader glued to the book from the opening pages. The sheer power of this romantic and adventurous story made this classic story to survive as perhaps the best of all times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
And I have read many! When I 'had' to read this book in college it changed my life. While it never preaches, or really makes it clear what 'side' the author takes, somehow it made God's character real to me. That God is love. And, that without love we are nothing. Also, it was amazing to me that I could read a 1000 page Russian novel and never get bored. This is a beautiful book that showed me that God loves a broken and sinful mankind and that He can be found in spite of the ugliness of our own hearts.
wizozzie More than 1 year ago
This is not the full version of the book. It's only an excerpt. :-(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the free version of war and peace is only an excerpt and starts from part nine. also the ereader that barnes and noble has available for download doesnt even work. i went to adobe and downloaded their epub reader which worked fine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this particular paperback translation by Pat Conroy because I was looking for a lightweight version of War and Peace that I could re-read en route to and from work on public transportation. I was preparing for a trip to Russia and "getting in the mood." While the book served that purpose, for me, the purchase was a mistake. The print was too small and hard to read, and the translation was not particularly scholarly. Much of the text was in the original French, which, although not unusual in many Tolstoy translations, I found distracting because it tested my French fluency rather than adding to the continuity of the text. Unless you are reasonably fluent in French, I recommend reading another translation. My experience here reminds me that you get what you pay for. For about $10, I bought an inexpensive, lightweight, paperback volume of less than stellar quality that I did not enjoy and stopped reading. Tolstoy deserves far better treatment. Next time, I will go with the salesperson's highly recommended translation, despite its size and weight.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not a ¿light and fun¿ book, the way some more modern pieces of literature come to mind (SLAUGHTER HOUSE FIVE by Vonnegut¿still a classic in its own way---and KATZENJAMMER by McCrae¿hilarious and unsettling at the same time), but it IS a great book¿freat piece of literature. New translations of War and Peace appear from time to time, each with its own virtues. Sometimes what one reader calls virtues, another finds to be deficiencies. The now-venerable Maude translation, in the splendid Norton Critical Edition, is sometimes majestic, always readable, and, most important, conveys to most minds the story Tolstoy told. The breathtaking, awe-inspiring power of Tolstoy's storytelling and his burning insights into the quandaries of the human condition are what is important about War and Peace. The Maudes' translation brings all this to life. Norton's editorial supplements help the newcomer to things Russian fight his/her way through the thicket of Russian names and mid-nineteenth-century literary mindset to get comfortable with Pierre, the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys. Once you get to know these unforgettable people, you are hooked for good. I have read this book many times in Russian and in the Maudes' translation. I always end by thanking Tolstoy for writing the best novel of them all, and the Maudes for their tireless work in translating it for those not fortunate enough to read it in the original.For lighter reads, try: KATZENJAMMER by McCrae or SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Kidd.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone serious about getting to know this novel, fitted out in smart English duds by Louise and Aylmer Maude, will not hesitate to invest in the handsome three-volume edition so mercifully published by Everyman's Library, Knopf. All long novels should be brought out this way, in fact, as they normally were in an age unafraid of multiple tomes: in sensibly-sized and serviceable volumes, not so bloated that they will crush your chest in bed, print actually suited to normal eyes that do not require high-tech telescopes to decipher the text. All this said, Tolstoi's novel has the power to occasion some intriguing questions. Why does Prince Andrei love his wife so little, and Princess Lize her family so much? Is Pierre Bezukhov as obtuse as he seems? Does the author tell us the full story of Nicholas Bolkonsky's ill-treatment of his daughter, or is there an even more sinister tale, lurking behind the edge of every page? What will Natasha do when her serfs are one day freed, and was there a real-life prototype for the eerily emetic Helene? And who brewed all that borsch, fried all those bliny? Tolstoi himself, of course, foresaw all such questions, and would no doubt refer the reader to his various commentaries on the subject, which would seem to have dropped from his pen like so many fully-formed Baltic bonbons for our enjoyment. We may be turned off (or on!) by his theories of history, and especially by the near lunatic ravings which constitute the final epilogue. But it would not be possible to emerge unchanged from a summer spent reading this novel. Are not now our notions of Russia more spangled? Is not our approach to life now more brave? Though its title may make this book sound heavier and more indigestible than a granite gulag birthday cake, let us hasten to state that it is anything but.
d03j More than 1 year ago
It is disappointing BN does not do a better job controling the quality of what gets published here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What roleplay is this
MarinaVeen More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great epic, unforgettable characters and melodrama. This is one of those classics you want to make sure you read in your lifetime, but probably once in a lifetime will be enough. It helps if you skip those chapters which are philosophical 'asides' and not part of the plot.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Hey guys I’m back!!! Sorry about disappearing for so long. Is Kaden still here?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walks around bored
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A finely written book; a classic that should should be read by all.
sva24 More than 1 year ago
Translation is easy to understand and follow. This version even includes Tolstoy's use of French in conversation, often omitted in some translated versions. Easy to follow, and "War and Peace" as everyone knows, is one of the best novels ever written.
AndInTheEnd More than 1 year ago
Read a different translation, but I can imagine this one is similar. Decided to take the challenge to read the ultimate in western literature. Certainly is a grand story - but the plot isn't so important is as the asides - the commentaries on life. Loved it.
codecracker13 More than 1 year ago
Lots of detail, good historic facts. Only problem is that it is slow in some parts and can be long!
Mary Diffendal More than 1 year ago
This is vol ll of 3
fortchicago More than 1 year ago
Good to curl up with in front of the fire with a glass of brandy in one hand. Napoleon doesn't come off too well, though.
Grace-under-pressure More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. Because of the number of pages, one might be tempted to imagine that the story drags on. It does not. Download to the Nook for 99 cents...a great addition to anyone's library! Some reviewers have said they received only exerpts. However, what I have in my Nook is the full 15 books and 2 epilogues of War And Peace--3,939 pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a paperback copy of the Ann Dunnigan translation with an intro by Pat Conroy and had read nearly half way through it when I received a NOOK. I downloaded the Nookbook Ann Dunnigan translation with an intro by Pat Conroy (brown cover with flag and birds on front) so I could finish it on my Nook and found the section I was reading had several typos and spelling errors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book serves as an accurate depiction of the War of 1812, with actual historical characters, who struggle through life in search of meaning. A beautifully written book, which is even better if read in Russian, due to the lack of the word power in the translation. I was really dissapointed when I read a number of the assessments written by some of the other 'reviewers'. Only a highly uneducated person could criticize such a work of art, but hopefully those few will soon enough grow up and realize what they have missed. Anyway, it is a really great book. If you were to read only one novel in your lifetime, this has to be the one.