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Publisher's Summary

Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy's genius is clearly seen 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 placed War and Peace in the same category as The Iliad.

 War and Peace was translated by Constance Garnett.

Public Domain (P)2009 Blackstone Audio

What listeners say about War and Peace

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

It's not just Big, it's awesome!

I just finished reading War and Peace. I knew it was long, but I didn't know it was awesome!

If you like stories about the two lovers finally overcoming their own pride and prejudice, like you find in Jane Austen novels,
If you like stories where individuals are overcome by forces far bigger than themselves, like you find Thomas Hardy novels,
If you like the witty critique of human foibles and foolishness, like you find in Flannery O'Connor's stories,
If you like epic events carried out in fascinating, expansive and strange worlds like that found in Tolkien,
If you like incredibly written histories like those of William Manchester,
If you like the brilliant use of analogy in the critique of rationalism and historicism like you find in C. S. Lewis,

Then you will love War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. #Audible1

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic book and performer

6/5 story and the speaker is very skilled at using accents and other techniques to enliven and differentiate the extremely large and varied cast. However, he seems to constantly be shifting back and forth in his seat. Five or six times a chapter he gets so quiet, for no known textual benefit I can think of, that it makes me think a phone call is preempting my listening. In a book with dozens of chapters for each of eight parts, it gives the lasting impression of inconsistent and distracting sound leveling by the producers. This doesn’t diminish the speaker in any way. This issue could have been caught in post production.

4 people found this helpful

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meh.. it was ok..

For a book that is over 60 hours I really expected better. it is a rather boring book. not once was I emotionally moved in any way whatsoever. It went on and on about meaningless details and really didn't explain a great deal of the motivations and actions of the characters.. glossed right over those important bits.. like why denizhoff does so many of the cruel things he does to his supposed friends... etc.. would not recommend it. save your time and read the wiki page on the napolionic wars. the story really has no point and no decent ending whatsoever. it's just another soapbox for espousing Russian orthodox Christian philosophy which in today's world is greatly obsolete.

2 people found this helpful

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Be Prepared

Tolstoy's War and Peace is half historical fiction and half philosophical diatribe on the study and nature of history. The narrative portion is character driven, engaging, and overall enjoyable; however, the long philosophical meanderings often distract from the plot and deaden the overall pace of this already epic-length work. The second part of the epilogue being devoted entirely to these musings overshadows the characters' resolution and results in the book ending on a somewhat exhausted note.
That being said, the narration is the shining light that prevents the philosophical wandering from dissolving into absolute monotonous white noise.
It is, however, a classic.

2 people found this helpful

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I tried.I really tried!

I am working through all the great classics while driving for work, what a super use of time. I persevered with Anna Karenina, and thought I should give Tolstoy another chance. I tried. I really tried, but found myself drifting to think about work, shopping, whether I cleaned the lint collector on the tumble dryer. The story was narrated well, but it just was not for me.

10 people found this helpful

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Excellent story telling

The reader’s voice is so easy to listen to. I love that he changes his voice for certain characters! Excellent audiobook rendition.

1 person found this helpful

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the worst narration Ive ever heard

I got 3 mins into this travesty. I would rather buy the physical book, a dozen times, than try to listen to this simpering idiot try to read this book

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Snore and Peace

Like Anne Karenina, the peace parts of this book feature interesting characters navigating what now looks like a silly aristocratic society. You get access to both Tolstoy's great penchant for deep insight into human nature, and a fun time with 1800's Russian high society. I loved this half of the book.

However, obsessed with making a few rather insignificant points about war ad nauseam, namely that the events of history can only be understood as an integrated some of the actions of a great many people opposed to the commands and plans of a few, that half of the book drags horrendously. When describing the conditions and actions of soldiers in the war, he's once again at his best. His diatribe about Napoleon and the other generals of their time being more a product of history than the other way around unfortunately occupies far more space than the interesting aspects of Tolstoy's writing. It's not even that I disagree with him, I'm just tired of hearing it.

The narrator did a good job, though perhaps could have lent a greater depth of emotion to his voice in the more emotional moments.

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Excellent!

Loved the narrator! War and peace is well worth the time to ‘read’ it. Tolstoy is a master of language and the human condition. Just wish I could read the original Russian! Whoever did the translation is also brilliant.

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this is NOT the greatest novel ever written

I can't understand how reviews say this is a great "novel". Realistically, only about 20% of this 61-hour audiobook is novel. The rest is historic essays and lectures on war strategy, troop movements, extensive critiques about Napoleon and his strategies and interpretations of all aspects of the French-Russian war. There's essays on historical interpretation and accuracy itself, on free will, and lots of somewhat interesting topics, but these are not components of a novel, they're lectures in history and philosophy and psychology. In fact, the actual 20% of the story that is a novel, is quite interesting and after the first 10h or so of trying to keep track of all the characters, by the end of the novel, you actually have some investment in the remaining characters and sadness for the ones who died or war or disease. In the end, this would've been a very interesting read if it only contained the novel, but alas the hours and hours and hours of describing troop movements and rationalizing war and interpreting Napoleon and the Tsar, all made this excruciating to get thru.

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  • garthw1
  • 2011-10-11

Horrible Narration

Frederick Davidson absolutely massacres the text. Do yourself a favor and listen to at least 2 minutes of the sample audio and ask yourself whether you can live with that voice for 60 hours. I surely could not. Davidson delivers the story in an annoyingly affected nasal tone apparently intended to convey a sense of "aristocracy" more than it conveys the actual content or meaning of the text. Indeed, the pace, tone and inflection of the narrative makes it difficult to even follow the story. I have been an Audible subscriber for years, and have listened to at least 150 audiobooks. This is literally the worst audiobook presentation I have ever heard. Davidson is on my absolute do-not-buy list.

99 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Plumeria
  • 2005-09-25

Glad I finally decided to read it

I downloaded a free study guide off the web and that helped me keep the characters straight in the beginning. The guide's critical analysis helped me enjoy the book even more. Be sure to let the first several hours wash over you. Just enjoy being swept along. Soon you'll remember who everyone is and be thoroughly engrossed. My dogs got extra long walks for a couple months! I was sorry it ended.

319 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 2006-02-13

A Work of genius

I first read the book when in High School many years ago. Only now do I realize that much of the complexity and substance had escaped my first encounter.This is a timeless classic and a work of genius. The narration was superb. I was sorry to see it end.

105 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anthony
  • 2008-09-22

Five stars doesn't say it

My limited experience doesn't have a class for War and Peace. Well, I'm no Ph.D, but I've done a respectable stint with the classic. I rattled off a list of reputable authors and how I like them at first, citing it sort of to demonstrate my taste; ultimately I deleted it because even all those invocations of classicism didn't express my newfound reverence for Tolstoy.

Anyway, I had anticipated reading War and Peace (eventually...), but hadn't anticipated it as an audiobook until I got two credits here as gifts. As you may have noticed, I liked it. I really liked it. I liked it so much that that, ruefully, I'm trying to write such a glowing review that people reading will think I must throw "five stars" around all the time, and they'll be wrong: Tolstoy not only snatched the Favorite Book trophy, he ran off with it for half a mile. Funny I've never *read* my favorite book, but there you go.

That's all opinion though, and for all I know an abnormal one. In fact, I'd be surprised if any significant statistic of people liked it as I do, but I'd wager on anybody loving it sooner than her hating it.

I don't think Frederick Davidson will remain my favorite narrator once I've heard more than two. I think he did very, very well with this, but I sympathize with some of the reviewers who couldn't get over some of his intonations. I got over them quite easily, you see, and even appreciate them, but they did take getting over first. Other than that, he slipped up only once in the whole work, mixing up two characters voices in one conversation. This is unabridged War and Peace: that has to count for something by itself.

Last thing, if you don't like history/philosophy/philosophy of history/lengthy tangents thereon, beware. Those things greatly added to my enjoyment, but there you go.

124 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 2005-02-16

Audible listens!

Subscribers asked for a better narrated version of the awesome "War and Peace," and quietly Audible recently offered this superb rendition. The narration is excellent and unlike the droning Zimmerman, Frederick Davidson brings the material and the characters to life. My opinion of Audible has risen substantially, and I am thoroughly enjoying one of the greatest novels ever written.






283 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Murasaki
  • 2007-07-06

War and Peace

This is an experience everyone should have at least once in a lifetime -- and, with luck, multiple times. Listen and read simultaneously for even more exquisite hours. The reader is fabulous.

46 people found this helpful

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  • Erez
  • 2008-11-27

Amazing

First, a few technical notes:
- The translation used in the audiobook is the one by Constance Garnett.
- The actual length of the book is about 61 hours, since the last four hours (the epilogues) are repeated twice.

The narrator (whose real name was David Case -- he passed away in 2005) seems to provoke extreme reactions: some people can't stand him, others can't get enough of him. I happen to belong to the second class, and I believe he is especially suited for this novel. However, if you find his voice as irritating as some of the other reviewers, you should probably go for another version.

And now for the book itself. In "The Brothers Karamazov", Dostoyevsky writes: "Show a Russian schoolboy a map of the stars, which he knows nothing about, and he will give you back the map next day with corrections on it." Tolstoy is the ideal to which all such schoolboys aspire, and "War and Peace" is his greatest achievement. Not only is this immense work a novel, it is a place for Tolstoy to expound his views on the causes and persons of the Napoleonic wars, on the methods of historical research, on free will and (of course) the existence of God. I can't say that I found everything convincing or even interesting -- for example, he takes a lot of pains to demonstrate the Napoleon was not a military genius but a blundering fool -- but for the sheer complexity and ambition of this work I cannot help but award it five stars.

135 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • connie
  • 2008-05-20

A great listen- not a cliche!

I did not expect to like W&P (in fact, I downloaded it only because I was stuck in bed for a length of time and wanted to joke that I was so bored that I read/listened to W&P), but it's become one of my favorite listens. On one level it's a riveting 19th century soap opera, with breaks for philosophical treatises rather than commercials. Then there's Tolstoy's brilliant expression of his psychological insight. What I studied at university (70s, 80s,) as the "new" historiography was actually expressed better by Tostoy than the postmoderns I read. I usually skip battle scenes to avoid violence, but skipped none of this - even the description of "wolf hunting" referred to by another reviewer was so well done that it captured me. This is one of the few audiobooks that I will subsequently buy to read/reread passages.

Unlike other reviewers, I like Frederick Davidson's narration. His style for W&P was a bit more lively than usual (more variety than his delivery of Les Miserables but not as campy as his readings of P.G. Wodehouse). For me he enhanced the listen. As others pointed out - there ARE many characters, and Davidson's style helped me sort them out. Tolstoy sometimes changes his prose style to reflect his characters mentality does he not? The variety of inflection sometimes helped point to that.

78 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tad Davis
  • 2008-08-17

The narrator is an acquired taste

Frederick Davidson is definitely an acquired taste. Other reviews here have noted some of the irritating qualities of his narration: fey, somewhat nasal, pseudo-posh, most sentences ending with a rising inflection, like a question. On the other hand, it should be said that his narration is always clear and energetic, and the characters are given immediately recognizable voices; in this particular case, given the length of the book, the recording is a good value for the money. Listen to the sample, and if Davidson's voice doesn't bother you, get it. (On balance, I'd have to say I prefer the Naxos recording with Neville Jason, although I have some issues with his narration as well.)

74 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • thunder road
  • 2006-10-16

Great literature given justice

Now I know why “War and Peace” ranks so high on great books lists. Tolstoy has the unique ability to move from the high to the low seamlessly. His minute descriptions of daily life are detailed, yet lithe enough to pulse with life without plodding. His treatment of his character’s psychology is nuanced without being pretentious. And lastly, his grasp of the philosophy behind human events is stunning, though decidedly debatable.

Plot-wise, there are few novels that leave me feeling that everything that happened was inevitable without second guessing the author. This novel, though sprawling and complex, has a feeling of self-contained inevitability.

The characters seem to breathe. Tolstoy develops his main character, Pierre from a seeming oaf in a prissy drawing room, through mystical insanity to a final solidity in his final married life. Indeed, it seems that the “peace” of Pierre finds in the hearth is the proper counterpoint to the backdrop of “war.” Other characters seem intensely real as well, from the duplicitous Kuragin to the lively, pretty and impetuous Natalia. These characters strike a chord of truth and grow to encompass their experiences.

There are, of course, flaws. Karatayev seems an idealized Russian peasant. Though feeling inevitable in the novel, the Pierre- Natasha- Andre love triangle seems overly novelistic. And Tolstoy has a propensity to preach for pages at an end.

The flaws, however, are far outweighed by the perfections. “War and Peace” is worth experiencing.

As to the reading, Davidson animates his characters, giving each a separate voice. He does have a habit of pausing in the middle of sentences to take a breath, and emphasizing odd phrases. Still, I find myself immensely pleased with the book. Great literature given justice; Entertaining as well as enlightening.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-08-09

Its nice

I have read the book its very nice actually.So nice dits is awesome and rated the book