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War and Peace, Volume 1

Written by: Leo Tolstoy
Narrated by: Neville Jason
Length: 30 hrs and 19 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

War and Peace is one of the greatest monuments in world literature. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, it examines the relationship between the individual and the relentless march of history. Here are the universal themes of love and hate, ambition and despair, youth and age, expressed with a swirling vitality which makes the book as accessible today as it was when it was first published in 1869.

In addition it is, famously, one of the longest books in Western literature and therefore a remarkable challenge for any reader. Neville Jason read the abridged version of War and Peace and proved his marathon powers with his outstanding performance of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. These make him the ideal narrator to essay Tolstoy's epic.

War and Peace was translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

© and (P) Naxos Rights International

What the critics say

"War and Peace presents us with a complete picture of human life; a complete picture of the Russia of those days; a complete historic picture of the struggle of nations; and a complete picture of the things in which men set their happiness and greatness, their sorrow and their shame." (A.V. Knowles, Tolstoy: The Critical Heritage)
"There remains the greatest of all novelists - for what else can we call the author of War and Peace?" (Virginia Woolf)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A great narration of a great book

I think this audiobook might be the Maude version, that I read a few years ago during a Christmas holiday, totally engrossed. Now I wanted the experience of hearing it this winter season as I catch up with knitting projects. I had heard a sample of Jason reading on the Naxos site, and in a word, he's superb. Unlike another version, that I borrowed from the library but could not stomach the reader so returned it promptly (could not imagine listening to his voice for nearly 61 hours!), Jason's reading brings the book to life. Having heard a sample on the Naxos site, I was inspired to rejoin Audible, after having "dropped out" with so many audiobooks piling up, but now realize that it's a necessity for an avid reader whose shelf-space is already crammed, and also provides me with literature while travelling -- without the weight.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • AKM
  • 2018-12-12

Great book, so-so narration

The book - it is a classic. It is long, and sometimes convoluted. But I find myself hating, loving, despairing for, and irritated at characters - if I become emotionally involved with characters, it is a good book. So, while long, it is worth it.

The narration - Mr. Jason is a precise and good reader. Good pace, generally good inflection. It is the reading of the character dialogue that sets my teeth on edge. He does most of the men fairly well, and many of the accents. But he makes the women sound awful and the weeping and whiny voices drive me crazy. I suppose it is part of getting into character, but I find it distracting from the story, and irritating.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stanley Hauer
  • Hattiesburg, MS USA
  • 2009-08-14

Awesome

I have loved W&P since college--and that's a long time ago. I've read it, I suppose, twenty times. But never have I enjoyed it quite so much as in this splendid reading. Neville Jason is a genius. (And, duh, so is Tolstoy.) Highly recommended.

52 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A Midwesterner in Jersey
  • USA
  • 2009-05-18

A Truly Great Book and a Truly Astounding Narrator

War and Peace is a book that I put off reading for quite a long time. I have to say that I regret not having read it earlier in life, as the characters are so very true to life, and the story, while specific to its time, has themes that are universal and timeless. As one familiar with the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian, I found Tolstoy's Russia of the same time period to be startlingly familiar in many ways, and quickly became engrossed in the story.

Listening to it in Audio book format only adds to the pleasure, as Neville Jason narrates each scene with superb timing, and is able to pitch his voice and change his tempo to put real "character" behind each character. It seems impossible, but he's able to portray both young and old women in a variety of circumstances in such a way that you ~never~ feel he's striking a false not, or tempt you to laugh at the voices he summons for them.

The basic character of humanity apparently does not change. Tolstoy's asides (Such as "Like all young men, he was determined to make his opinion known.") are as true today as when he wrote them. The nature and actions of the many people within the book are never dull, sometimes moving, often very funny, and always authentic.

I've purchased a printed version of War and Peace which I will look forward to re-reading from time to time, and may keep a few audio chapters handy for "impulse listening" in the future.

By all means, take a listen - War and Peace's reputation is wholly deserved.

84 of 85 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • wayne
  • Mississauga, ON, Canada
  • 2009-04-09

Best reading

It took me a few months to get through this but it was well worth it. I think even better than the story is the superb reading by the narrator. I will go in search of other audiobooks by this narrator because he was so good. In a book that has so many characters he was able to give each person their own unique personality. Being a history grad I really enjoyed this book, but I understand that it may be a bit daunting for most casual readers. Yet it entwines love stories with Russian history beautifully and if someone has the time they would enjoy it. And talk about value, 60 hours for 2 credits...wow!

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John Welch
  • 2008-06-07

The Greatest Novel read by the best narrator

I cannot imagine a better narrator, for this great book, than Neville Jason. I read it 3 times before hearing it read by NJ and I cannot praise it too highly - his narration adds a new dimension to the experience of this masterpiece. I wish Audible would make all Tolstoy's and Dostoyevsky's books available - must be read by NJ.
Thank you too Tolstoy, Neville Jason & Audible.

48 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2009-07-26

An amazing and sweeping work

Listening to a book written more than 100 years ago about a country that I was told by the media/government was an 'enemy' gives me comfort that what I'm going through - at work, at home, in governmental gyrations - has all been experienced before. Mankind survived that period of time, and will survive this. This is everything you could want in a classic - romance, comedy, action, history, philosophy, sadness - plus it gave me a view of wars that were not covered well in American history because our participation was limited to funding Napoleon through the Louisiana Purchase.
The reader is excellent, and gives life to the characters.
It's broken into short 'books' - 2 to 4 hour segments, so you don't have to listen to 30 continuous hours.
I think his philosophy is still relevant, and his opinion on historians and their perspective was interesting.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Diane
  • Plano, TX, United States
  • 2008-04-25

Sipping Fine Wine

The story of War and Peace is an amazingly colorful and exciting story. It's almost a thrill a minute. But some thrills are quieter than others. The way the drawing room and the battle field start to become parallel in the reader's mind is brilliant. The narrator makes the story a pleasure to listen to. This book isn't meant to be gulped down or swallowed all at once. It's meant to be sipped and enjoyed, like a fine wine.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wallen
  • Danderyd, Sweden
  • 2007-10-22

Brilliant

Yes it is a long story, rather like reading Proust (the atmosphere created by the words and the story is the main thing), but this one has quite some action in it. And being told about an exciting time and a pivotal period in European history it is a "must read" for Americans and Europeans alike. Brilliantly read - never boring.

49 of 51 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lisa
  • Chimayo, NM, USA
  • 2008-02-17

outstanding

Utterly flawless narration! Like an earlier reviewer, I have tried a couple of times to read War and Peace and always got mired in Part Two. Thanks to this talented narrator and a relaxing 40 minute commute, I made it through Part Two and am now totally engrossed. I am now inspired to go back and read the book.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sher from Provo
  • Utah
  • 2011-07-24

Takes Persevereance, But Well Worth It

The hardest thing about listening to War and Peace was keeping all the characters straight. I used Spark Notes, and also read along with the audio book. The ebook is readily available for free. I even kept notes at first as to who belonged to what family, which I referred to often. I did not follow all of the goings on of the war, but I got enough of it to understand its meaning as it relates to the story. It took me about half to two-thirds of the way through the story before I got totally sucked into it. There are about four stories going on at one time, and Tolstoy jumps from one to the other seemingly at will.

I came to care about, love or hate many of the characters, but it took a while. What I did come to love were the Russian people of the early 19th century as a whole. One of my favorite parts of the book occurs at the end of the first epilogue (who writes more than one epilogue???). Tolstoy writes a caricature of the Napoleonic Wars. It is so funny, and yet it puts the whole thing into great historical context, which at that point I really needed. I could have lived without the second epilogue. Although it is well written, and uses a great metaphor, it had absolutely nothing to do with the story.

As far as Tolstoy as a writer, I have to give him a ???5???. He is a fabulous writer, and I found myself listening to long philosophical musings just because I loved the sound of the prose. He is obviously incredibly intelligent, and a very deep thinker.

The narrator, Neville Jason, ranks up there with the best of the best. He is outstanding. I give him a ???5??? as well.

The story itself: From the stand point of keeping my interest, continuity and action, I give it a ???4???. From the standpoint of the quality of the writing, it has to be a ???5???. From the standpoint of what I learned from the story, or in other words, did it have an impact on my life? I would definitely have to give it a ???5??? as well. So averaging everything out, the book gets a ???5???.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Emily
  • Topeka, KS, USA
  • 2008-05-15

A joy to listen to!

I read War and Peace a few years ago and enjoyed it very much. I recently felt the desire to read it again and decided to seek out an audiobook version this time, for a little variety. I am quite pleased I did!

This is an excellent recording and the narrator is fantastic. He does an marvelous job with all the characters and truly brings this magnificent work to life.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful