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War and Peace (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy , Henry Gifford , Louise and Aylmer Maude
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 May 2008 Oxford World's Classics
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'.

Product details

  • Paperback: 1392 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; First Vintage Classics Edition edition (8 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199536058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536054
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 12.7 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 691,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before travelling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879-82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home 'leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude'; dying some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.

Product Description

About the Author

Amy Mandelker has taught at UCLA, University of Southern California, Columbia, Brown and Princeton Universities. Her books include --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
'WELL, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes.* Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Edition is the Winner! 7 Nov 2011
By Broser
This is an excellent translation of this classic novel widely regarded as the best work of literature ever written. There is a good deal of french in the book and this edition wins as the translations are at the bottom of each page. Other editions often append them at the back of the book making smooth reading difficult unless you understamd the french.
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80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is War and Peace? 11 Aug 2005
Tolstoy offered his own answer to this question, in "Some Words About War And Peace," but his answer is not very illuminating. Let me try to answer the question in the simplest way possible:
It is first and foremost the story of a handful of characters: the Rostovs, the Bolkonskys, Pierre. It is not a book about war or peace in the grand, overarching sense, but about people and how they cope with such times. Tolstoy's view was that there is no point in writing only about the general course of the war - it's the people that matter.
But, unlike most other novelists, Tolstoy takes you into the lives of his characters by presenting their stories within a historical context presented with an extraordinary level of detail. From this, the popular misconception arises that War and Peace is the story of the Napoleonic Wars, as thought it were some kind of 19th Century Tom Clancy novel. It is not.
As the book goes on and the ongoing war becomes more intense, a great deal of space is devoted to descriptions of the progress of the war and analysis of its causes and effects. It can seem as though Tolstoy has forgetten his characters and readers naturally become confused and wonder what the book is all about.
But when that happens to you, persevere. It *is* worth it. At the end of the First Epilogue everything falls into place and the immense value of all that historical detail will become obvious through the way you empathise with the characters.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I first read War and Peace 21 years ago at the age of 15. It was a light in my intellectual development. Rereading it today took me two weeks and helped me revisit the concepts and the power of this magnificent epic novel which combines , romance, realism, and philosophy and deserves it's designation as one of the greatest novels of all time.

War and Peace operates from the premise that history is a result of predestination and not as the result of the actions of great and powerful men. Having said that one comes away from reading it with an admiration of the Marshal Kutuzov, who from the beginning to end never once from the beginning of his activity in 1812 never once swerving by word or deed presents an admirable example of self-sacrifice and a present consciousness of the future importance of what was happening. and of the heroic Russian people, who valiantly defended their homeland and suffered such terrible and massive losses.
They would repeat this valiant performance against the Nazi invaders some 130 years later.
Tolstoy wrote War and Peace in 1864, and it took him nearly six years to finish it. The book covers Russian history between the years 1812 and 1818, and takes in Russia's struggle against the French, including Napoleon's 1812 campaign which effectively destroyed his power.
It deals with the Russian upper class family life and it's near dis-integration through adversity, yet the traditional Slavonic pessimism is not allowed to dominate the novel and it ends on a note of hope.
War and Peace essentially deals with five Russian aristocratic families, but includes in it'it's pages over 500 characters; all of whom are delineated with amazing realism, even the dogs emerge as personalities.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books of all time 6 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When you first set eyes on the book itself you may well be overcome with a sense of dread and the idea that it will take an eternity to finish. However, Tolstoy writes with wonderful depth but without grandiosity and complexity, allowing the reader to flow through the pages with ease and enjoyment. Every detail, every description and every word provides Tolstoy with the desire I think he wished for in his writing: to completely immerse the reader with the sense that they are actually at the Grand Balls; watching the terrible battles; experiencing the emotions of the multitude of characters. This truly is a masterpiece. I urge you with every cell in my body to read this book, you will not be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I managed to read it all. 17 Jan 2014
War and Peace tends to be regarded as the third great work of world literature; having read all of the Bible and all of Shakespeare I figured that someday I would read this, but having spent my entire adult life caring for my mother, I never found the opportunity. When my mother died, I decided now was the time. It isn't possible to sum up a book of this size in a paragraph so I won't try. I will only say that it is superbly written and very easy to read. My advice is: don't be intimidated by the size, dive in and start reading, you'll be fascinated with it from the first chapters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Wonderful 14 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
No point in repeating countless opinions. It is a joy from page to page with the added bonus of exceptional historical insight and cynicism (of people and their influence on events).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought the penguin classic for my mum and then got the Oxford classic for myself as seemed to be more positive feedback and I like how they keep french in the text with translation in the footnote. My mum has just finished hers, took her just over 2 months and she thought it an excellent read. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it and comparing notes with her.
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