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3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1 out of 5 stars
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on 18 June 2013
I've read Hadji Murad several times and bought this one so I could have a handy Kindle version. What a mistake. I'm hard pressed to see what value the publishers add here. I have never seen a published book with so many typos. If I had to guess they've taken the Project Gutenberg version and put it in a new font, not bothering to copy edit it at all. Then they charge £3.35 for a small novella. Ridiculous. If you want to have a Kindle version you can buy it in a Penguin anthology with the equally excellent The Cossacks and other Tolstoy short works for £2.47. A no brainer.
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on 25 June 2015
This only loses a star because, as usual, someone should have proof read it and replaced the many typos.

However, as a story it is gripping. A quote from the book "You are just a lot of butchers. You make me sick. Butchers, that's what you are."

This is a Russian lady commenting on fellow Russians.

The novel basically follows Russian attempts to clear the Caucasus, and Chechnya in particular, from its native inhabitants so that the Czar can benefit from returning the people to serfdom and seizing their lands. The hero is finally done down by his Russian hosts. Obviously, being more than 150 years old, this novel refers to Czar Nicholas but really is so relevent to 20thC and 21thC Russian behaviour.

It is a great novel and a history lesson in one. And they have done it again now in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, not to mention the vicious wars they fought against the Chechens and Dagestan plus Afghanestan in the late 20thC.
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on 8 June 2012
This short and compelling biographical novel draws from the author's youthful experiences of war in the 1850s Caucasus, where Chechens today continue to squirm beneath the Russian yolk. Tolstoy's final novel, it exemplifies the 20th-century turn to economy of prose among late 19th-century realists. As one finds in Hardy or Zola, the tone is deterministic but lightened by the humanity of the characters and occasional humour. The titular hero, a Muslim rebel leader, is a fugitive bound to die; the interest lies in how, and how his passing suggests an age in which modernity (to the author's apparent regret) is bound to eclipse tradition.

While several chapters seem tangential, they give a fascinating flavour of the times. Outstanding among them is a hilarious glimpse of the imperial court of Nicholas I; the tsar's capacity to believe in his own greatness is matched by the sycophancy of his circle. ("`It seems there is only one honest man in Russia!' said he. Chernyshov at once understood that this one honest man was Nicholas himself, and smiled approvingly.") Inevitably such traits lead to disastrous military effect.

Hadji Murad himself remains something of an enigma. He's muscular, heroic, and, like many literary heroes, forced to wrestle with conflicting loyalties: to family and to homeland. Yet Tolstoy never quite gets under the man's skin, nor does he elucidate what his faith meant to him. Depictions of Russian officers, some competent and others vain, are more vivid.
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on 14 May 2013
It gives you an idea of the long and deep and historic problems Russia has had with its colonies. Russian brutality in Chechnya in the past number of years and its installing of a puppet government is forecast in this Tolstoy story. There is nothing comparable in the work of British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Belgian, and Dutch writers about their former colonies. Nobody like Tolstoy.
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on 13 February 2014
A dazzling posthumous story by the consummate master, not quite butchered by the terrible translation and the countless errors in the text. I cannot understand why this vital work has been treated with such little respect. Disgraceful
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on 10 August 2013
I would not recommend this book to anyone and am rather puzzled that it was chosen as a Summer read by some member of our book reading group.
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on 9 August 2013
This is quite a short story, but interesting to see how the meeting of two different cultures were portrayed by Tolstoy.
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on 5 July 2014
This novella shows all the signs of having been written as Tolstoy's health and powers were declining.
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on 2 September 1999
One of the finest pictures of war. And, the same can be said for the conflict between religion and a secular society and the weekness of the latter and the strength of the former
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