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Epic historical novel by Leo Tolstoy, originally published as Voyna i mir in 1865-69. This panoramic study of early 19th-century Russian society, noted for its mastery of realistic detail and variety of psychological analysis, is generally regarded as one of the world's greatest novels. War and Peace is primarily concerned with the histories of five aristocratic families--particularly the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskys, and the Rostovs--the members of which are portrayed against a vivid background of Russian social life during the war against Napoleon (1805-14). The theme of war, however, is subordinate to the story of family existence, which involves Tolstoy's optimistic belief in the life-asserting pattern of human existence. The novel also sets forth a theory of history, concluding that there is a minimum of free choice; all is ruled by an inexorable historical determinism.
I read War and Peace as I travelled on the Trans-Siberian Express five years ago. Totally appropriate to read while passing through areas to which Moscow dissidents fled and who are mentioned by Tolstoy.--Submitted by Anonymous
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