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Publisher's Summary

War and Peace is one of the greatest monuments in world literature. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, it examines the relationship between the individual and the relentless march of history. Here are the universal themes of love and hate, ambition and despair, youth and age, expressed with a swirling vitality which makes the book as accessible today as it was when it was first published in 1869.

In addition it is, famously, one of the longest books in Western literature and therefore a remarkable challenge for any reader. Neville Jason read the abridged version of War and Peace and proved his marathon powers with his outstanding performance of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. These make him the ideal narrator to essay Tolstoy's epic.

War and Peace was translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

© and (P) Naxos Rights International

Critic Reviews

"War and Peace presents us with a complete picture of human life; a complete picture of the Russia of those days; a complete historic picture of the struggle of nations; and a complete picture of the things in which men set their happiness and greatness, their sorrow and their shame." (A.V. Knowles, Tolstoy: The Critical Heritage) "There remains the greatest of all novelists - for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?" (Virginia Woolf)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Like he said: It is not a novel

I would say this is more a history text book about the Napoleonic-Russian Wars and the characters just happened to live in that era. Tolstoy goes into a lot of details about the battles and I would estimate that these details occupy 60% of the book's narrative. Maybe the charecters were used to offer the readers a perspective and though they do evolve as they experience life, they do not do so in depth, especially the female characters; they start as shallow figures and they end as shallow figures, incapable of higher intellectual development. Maybe these are the some of the thoughts that represented the era when it was written.

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Time consuming epic

If you like history, society and love, this is a must. Just hang in there till you get to know the characters

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Stick with it!!!!

Perfect voice and perfect ending! Finish it all the way through! So glad I went with this two part version with the expert narrator than the other one!

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A long and winding road

It's great to finish the second volume but it was tough going at times.The ridiculous imbalance between the haves and the have nots explains how Communism came about it it should be a lesson to all dictators in the World that their time is not endless.A great performance by narrator Neville Jason

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  • Ed
  • Edmond, OK, United States
  • 02-16-17

Beautiful story, but the performance is a gem.

A truly classic novel. You SHOULD read it, not just because its in the canon, because it's beautiful. The performance was a tour de force.

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Wow. Just wow.

Still taking it all in well after the fact, just like all great experiences in life.

Skipped the epilogues due to many recommendations and after 15 minutes of listening I can see why. But who cares? The first 55 hours are transformative not just for the characters, but the reader as well. Read. This. Book. Its worth it. Tolstoy does most of the heavy lifting anyways.

Neville Jason is an absolute master as well.

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Excellent book, but could be trimmed down

The book is excellent, really, but I give only my very very favorites 5 stars. War and Peace has very well-developed characters, but it is a super-long book. Since the narration was superb (really tops), I didn't really mind, but if I were reading it from a book, I might find that certain passages would be too drawn out. So what could he have trimmed down? We get to see too much of the "life of the Russian nobility", which Tolstoy depicts in other books, as well. You know it well, I bet: the balls, the seeming endless leisure, hunting, drinking, gambling, social clubs, the ones who overspend, in spite of how much money they have, the connections they have to get positions. No wonder they had a revolution. (But, we won't see that here.) Tolstoy uses all of this to introduce us to the characters, but it could have been done a bit more compactly. The same is true for some of the war scenes. But what really should be taken out, and have been published as separate essays, are portions that are truly very fine discussions of history, how history is presented, how people become powerful, was Napoleon a hero or a tyrant, what makes a man great, do great men shape history or do other factors shape history - all very articulate, very intelligent, with lovely metaphors, but this is fiction, after all. Why discuss why Napoleon is admired by so many in spite of the evil he perpetrated in a book of fiction? If it's fiction, he can depict Napoleon however he likes. He could have a brief introduction stating: this is a work of fiction, though some of the characters are actual historical characters. Nevertheless, we take liberty in their fictional representation. I did find Tolstoy's ideas on all these subjects quite interesting, but they do not add to the story "War and Peace", and they belong elsewhere. Interestingly, Dostoyevsky raises the same question about Napoleon as what is perhaps the main theme of Crime and Punishment - Raskolnikov posits that if a man like Napoleon is perceived as great, then he can get away with murder. Well, that's putting it too simply in just a few words, but one could compare Tolstoy's discussion of Napoleon and his tyranny with the whole premise of Raskolnikov's act and thinking in Crime and Punishment.
There is no doubt that War and Peace is a book to make you think, to consider events in history, to consider what the French thought (and think) about Napoleon (I couldn't help but think of the Paris train station called Austerlitz, for example), to consider other leaders who made some improvements in their countries but were tyrants. Indeed, this book is certainly worth your time. One of my favorite passages is very brief, when Pierre is visiting with Natasha after he returns from the war and he hears her tell of Andrei's death. I referred someone to this passage to demonstrate what I consider a beautiful depiction of apathy:
"Pierre listened to her with lips parted and eyes fixed upon her full of tears. As he listened he did not think of Prince Andrei, nor of death, nor of what she was telling. He listened to her and felt only pity for her, for what she was suffering now while she was speaking." I find it so sad that Tolstoy did not have any of that empathy for his own wife.

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Fascinating

This book starts me on a journey to read more Tolstoy

The narrator is exceptional. All the characters come to life and are very discernible. A very excellent book with a truly talented narrator

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Epic - extremely thought provoking.

It took me a while to get into it but once I did I began to appreciate why it's one of the best novels ever written. Tolstoy is a brilliant theologian and made me think in new ways. The performance is very well done, it's not light hearted but a worthwhile read.

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An Honor

Read the book twice. narration sublime in this edition. an honor to listen too. share this book