War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy


War and Peace is one of the most famous works of literature and considered by many to be a masterpiece. Tolstoy, much like Shakespeare, seems to be searching for what it meant to be “Human” and alive on the planet.

This novel’s approach to those questions comes from examples found in history itself, of love, war, religion, family, class, economics and philosophy.

Tolstoy said of his writings in an article: “What is War and Peace? It is not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle. War and Peace is what the author wished and was able to express in the form in which it is expressed.” (it is, what it is!)

Tolstoy presents us with the daily lives and activities of a large cast of characters across long stretches of time. His point is that these ordinary people are what makes the difference in the course of history rather than the impact of the few and powerful, like Alexander and Napoleon. His point of view tells us that the essence of history lies in the “activity of the general mass of people who take part in it.”  War and Peace presents the human activities, feelings, and sufferings of 160,000 Russians and French.

The lesson of this book is understanding that history comes from examining the details. Henry James referred to this novel as “a wonderful mass of life.” The critic, Strakhov, said, “What is the meaning of War and Peace? The meaning is expressed in these words of the author more clearly than anywhere else: ‘There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.’

War and Peace by Russian author Leo Tolstoy first published in 1869 tells us of details of the events surrounding the French invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families.

Reading it slowly helps as your read this most impressive books.


“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” 

“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.” 

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” 

“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.” 

“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” 

“The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness.

“It's not given to people to judge what's right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.”