10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
An epic masterpiece, 14 Dec 2000
Undoubtedly the most moving book I have ever read. Tolstoy's incredibly detailed depiction of the plight of the refugees, the tragedies of deaths in the family and the unstoppable pursuit of love and happiness in the middle of all that carnage brought a tear to my eye. Some people complain about the depth into which the author goes in describing every character and would say that it is unnecessarily detailed. Not a bit of it! By the time I read this book I felt like I knew each character as a personal friend with whom I had grown up. Pierre Bezukhov is the character who most people could identify with as a bit of an outsider in the Russian courts. The interaction of him and the other characters with real people from history is very cleverly done, Forest Gump was not a new idea by any means.
As for the long passages on the inexorable process of history which man cannot influence, well if I were living in a feudal Europe which was governed by a small extended family of in-bred nobles whose family squabbles were settled by the slaughter of their citizens, then maybe I would think that history is uncontrollable too. These passages are not hard to spot and anyone with a bit of common sense can read between the lines and take them with a pinch of salt.
He may seem to approve of serfdom, but in those days democracy was a concept which hadn't quite taken root and most people (including Tolstoy) didn't know any different.
This is an exhilerating read for anyone who has what it takes to get right through it.