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on 29 September 2017
Have just re-read this after nearly 50 years, and appreciated it much more this time round. Confess I was slightly helped by the memory of the most recent TV adaptation of War and Peace, in keeping track of some of the characters! The book is, of course, so much richer than any television version can be. However, I skipped some of the battle scenes, and speed-read others; there is an awful lot of analysis of the politics of the day - some of which was interesting to me, some not - the description of Napoleon and his motives stood out. The chief reward of the book lies in following the characters over such a long period. Promptly bought Anna Karenina, again a re-read, and love that, too. I think it's a more complete novel than its rangy predecessor, but both act as fantastic introductions to Russia, albeit past, but there must be echoes around today for those who know the country. There are beautiful descriptions of the seasons and the countryside.
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on 2 March 2016
Well worth the effort,read it years ago as a student,think I enjoyed it more this time. A clear translation and a great story. However this is three books rather than one and only one part of it is a novel. Alongside which we get a very good military history of Russia's war against Napoleon and a series of fairly pedantic, repetitive and didatic lectures on the meaning of life. The last section comprises one of these and constitutes one of the least engaging conclusions to a novel. It is a great work and makes you think but I think he may have benefited from a good editor. Tolstoy was very much an individual and wrote entirely what he intended but it makes for a long slog.
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on 8 November 2015
I am actually still reading this. It's been my mission for the year since hearing the Radio 4 production on New Year's Day 2015 and I've nearly finished it. It hasn't been difficult. It's an extremely good read. I thought that keeping track of who was who would be difficult; it isn't. Tolstoy's explanations are extremely good. The background to the war is detailed but not dull and the scenes of war are truly shocking and very vivid. He goes off into some philosophy at some stages, which is amazing; it's the kind of book you almost don't want to read too fast, you want to take it in. I think I'll be sad to finish it. As for this version, it's extremely readable though there's an awful lot of typos (well it's a very long book) and that does get a bit irritating. Also there are links to end notes; sometimes those end notes don't add much and sometimes they don't work to get back to where you were in the book, but that's not a huge issue. I not only do recommend this book, I have recommended it and managed to get a friend to download it too! If you want a bit of background to what was going on with Napoleon's attempt at dominating Europe at this time (think various Jane Austen novels and the Sharpe series) you can't do better than to see the terrible effects of the war on Russia. The good thing about reading it on Kindle is that apart from not having a heavy book to lug around, you can just dip in and read a chapter (the chapters are very short). It's very well worth it.
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on 3 February 2016
I've only read about a hundred pages so far but I'm very surprised at how easy War and Peace is to read and find it difficult to put down. As a teenager I read many French and Russian classics but never this. I've been watching the BBC adaptation and felt that I must read the book as I found the series so poor, at least many people will now be reading the book so some good has come from it. The Penguin Classics seemed to me to be the best translation.
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on 6 April 2016
Excellent translation but BEWARE kindle version. I have been rereading War & Peace in this Vintage translation, having first read the Penguin Classics version over thirty years ago. Maybe it's age, but I've found the Vintage translation extremely readable and have really appreciated the amazing scope of Tolstoy's work.
I ordered the kindle version so that I could continue reading on train journeys (the paperback is a hefty tome and definitely not a book to carry about). I am horrified to find that not only is the kindle version NOT the Vintage translation, it is a very poor American translation, complete with US spelling and Americanisms. Thank goodness it only cost 99p, but I am left with the problem of being unable to read the novel away from home.I am very disappointed with Amazon's misleading listing. If anyone has a different (and acceptable) kindle version I'd love to hear from them.
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on 18 January 2016
Started to read this book many times before but tried afresh with the broadcasting of the BBC 1 serial of the book. I am trying to keep up with the serial as I read the book, hard work and a lot of reading each week! Each minute of screen time takes pages to read through. Worth it though. The book is far more detailed and interesting than the TV but the TV has helped me to SEE the characters and place them all in my mind. With so many characters in the book this has proved to be a great advantage.
The book is fiction but based in reality. The Napoleonic war was, after all, very real. The ruling Russian aristocracy make our lot seem like socialists! No wonder they went on to have a revolution, or two or three, in Russia. Many of the characters are also factual and they did exist in Russia, at this time. These details make the book very appealing to those who know something of the period and appreciate the intricacies of Russian life. I would recommend it to anyone who has the patience for a long, long read.
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on 9 February 2016
The book of course is great, and I like this translation, and it certainly weighs less on Kindle! I dropped a star because I was a little vexed by the Kindle implementation. Mainly, it's not clear how you specify the edition/translation you want in Kindle. I even found the one I wanted, but on clicking through, discovered it was a different one. I had to go into each Kindle version and look at the title page to find out which was which. The one I initially wanted wasn't there in the end, but it took a lot of effort to discover that. I thought I remembered an advanced search on Amazon but if so, it's not obvious where it's gone. Secondly, navigation within the Kindle version is not as easy as it seems, I lost sync, so I wanted to navigate back from the contents page. There isn't a direct link (though to be fair you can link to the cover instead, and go forward to the contents, which are hyperlinked just as you'd expect, although not down to chapter level). Lastly, not so much a criticism as a suggestion - a book with a rich history like this particular one could be quite innovative as a special edition in Kindle form, it doesn't quite take as much advantage of the electronic format as I'd imagined.
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on 8 February 2016
There is a free version of this book available on Kindle but I much prefer this paid version.
I mainly read popular best-selling fiction but I try to intersperse classic literature between them now and then. I am guilty of not always finishing reading the classics and so I embarked on reading War and Peace thinking that I would do well to make it half-way let alone finish it. By the end of the book I understood why this book belongs in the top few ranks of any credible list of the world's best work of literature. It is simply a stupendous work that could only have been written by a truly great literary genius.
Among the things I liked best about this book is how although the fictional characters are far out numbered by actual historical figures, they seemed no rest real and it becomes hard to believe that these fictional characters did not actually exist.
War and Peace is as much an historical treatise as it is a novel and I became as engaged in the story of the Napoleonic war in Russia as in the lives of the principal characters.
At over 1400 pages long, this book may seem daunting but I urge anyone to read it, and like me, you may find it the one of the most rewarding book you will ever read.
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on 19 April 2016
I'm about 1/10th of the way through the book, and having compared this with other translations in general I would say this is the one to go for. I suppose it depends on what you're after, but I found the older translations a little antiquated and twee. I'm a modern reader, and modern English is what I likes! I love the fact that this translation doesn't patronise the reader and keeps the original French and German - it's a translation of the Russian to English, nothing else. The translation flows well. Book iteself is excellent, really enjoying the story.
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on 27 October 2014
I was wondering what to read for a 2 week trip on the trans-siberian express, and the decision pretty much made itself! This is a book that everyone is aware of as a long book that they should probably read, never quite get around to it... having finished it I'm glad that I did!

This is clearly a masterpiece. The sheer number of characters, changing relationships and political situation, and the amount of historical time covered is truly impressive. The story is compelling, the characters are startlingly human, and the historical detail clearly researched in minute detail.

My one small snag was the amount of time devoted to Tolstoy musing on the psychology of war and sniping at historians in chapters squished between the story. Spoiler alert (and sarcasm alert): Tolstoy says that much of history is inevitable and had to happen for a number of complex and unknowable reasons, and that it is ridiculous to suggest that someone is a good or bad commander because wars are weird and illogical and not subject to whatever made up 'military science' people write about in essays after the fact.

I found this very profound and interesting the first couple of times it was mentioned. Of course Napoleon didn't actually have that much influence on the outcome of a battle which was basically French people and Russian people firing cannons at each other. This idea is constantly alluded to, and shapes how Tolstoy presents his version of the history. Unfortunately, I felt like this simple (and perceptive) idea was repeated ad nauseum, to little gain.

Other than that small niggle, I couldn't recommend this vibrant, well researched and insightful novel highly enough!
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