I don't understand it; I don't in the least understand why men can't live without wars. How is it that we women don't want anything of the kind, don't need it? Tolstoy's epic masterpiece intertwines the lives of private and public individuals during the time of the Napoleonic wars and the French invasion of Russia. The fortunes of the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys, of Pierre, Natasha, and Andrei, are intimately connected with the national history that is played out in parallel with their lives. Balls and soirees alternate with councils of war and the machinations of statesmen and generals, scenes of violent battles with everyday human passions in a work whose extraordinary imaginative power has never been surpassed. The prodigious cast of characters, both great and small, seem to act and move as if connected by threads of destiny as the novel relentlessly questions ideas of free will, fate, and providence. Yet Tolstoy's portrayal of marital relations and scenes of domesticity is as truthful and poignant as the grand themes that underlie them.
In this definitive and highly acclaimed Maude translation, Tolstoy's genius and the power of his prose are made newly available to the contemporary reader. In addition this edition includes a new introduction by Amy Mandelker, revised and expanded notes, lists of fictional and historical characters, a chronology of historical events, five maps, and Tolstoy's essay 'Some Words about War and Peace'.