Prompted to write this because of those strange remarks questioning the novel's quality. Don't be misled. This really is one of the greatest novels ever written. Not only does Tolstoy have a commanding grasp of his recent history, and of Napoleon's strategy, but he makes war believable from the highest to the lowest levels. But one of the main reasons it is so celebrated is in the way the characters develop. We see them grow and change, partly in response to events and experience, partly as part of simply growing up. The transformation of Andre through the book is so credibly depicted you have to keep reminding yourself this is fiction. Many things happen to him, and each twist and turn is totally convincing, and where he ends up after all this makes perfect sense. And the momentous historical events that go on are not a "backdrop", but completely interweaved in the narrative. Tolstoy was capable of pouring everything that he, a wise, observant and insightful man had seen in his life, into a book that (another "greatness" quality) had a huge historical sweep, a cast of understandable, very human characters, and profound understanding of war. Don't save it up for later.