Summary

Often called the greatest novel ever written,War and Peaceis at once an epic of the Napoleonic Wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy’s genius is seen clearly in the multitude of characters in this massive chronicle—all of them fully realized and equally memorable. Out of this complex narrative emerges a profound examination of the individual’s place in the historical process, one that makes it clear why Thomas Mann praised Tolstoy for his Homeric powers and placedWar and Peacein the same category as theIliad:“To read him . . . is to find one’s way home . . . to everything within us that is fundamental and sane.”