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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Trouble Times by Andrew D. Kaufman

As an avid reader, I like to challenge myself by reading some lengthy classics. One summer I read "Moby Dick" and another summer "Les Miserables." It has always been my goal to read "War and Peace" but I have put it off for some time now. I even possess two copies from used book sales and have it on my Kindle so not having a copy is not an excuse. I think I shy away from it because I have found reading Russian literature is confusing and most of the time depressing. Trying to figure out who is who with the Russian first names and last names and then the nicknames has a challenge for me. War along with death and dying also seem to be major themes as well. So when I saw this book, it interested me and I read it to see if reading "War and Peace" would be worth it.

The author is an internationally acclaimed Russian literature scholar, is a featured Tolstoy expert on and frequently asked to discuss Russian literature and culture on television and radio programs. So that being said, he does take a scholarly approach to "War and Peace" which is thorough, but very readable. Woven throughout the book is the story of Leo Tolstoy's life and the parallel between his life and the life of the characters in "War and Peace." Each chapter has a theme such as imagination, success, happiness, love, courage, death and truth. It gives you a look at the characters, the turmoil of war with France and the total disruption of their way of life at that time in the history of Russia.

Has reading this book encouraged me to get started on "War and Peace?" I think I will move it closer to the top of my stack of books next to my chair and maybe just maybe start reading it before winter sets in.

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