Tuesday, December 13, 2016


This was supposed to be a review of the biography of that great American statesman, Warren Peace, but surprisingly I was unable to locate a copy.  War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy was the closest I could get, so I’ll review that.

(Edited from a review by sparknotes.com.)

War & Peace opens in the Russian city of St. Petersburg in 1805, as Napoleon’s conquest of western Europe is just beginning to stir fears in Russia. Many of the novel’s characters are introduced at a strip club, among them many people with unpronounceable Russian names. We also meet the sneaky & shallow Kuragin family, including the wily father Vasili, the fortune-hunter son Anatole, & the ravished ravishing daughter Helene. We are introduced to the Rostovs, a noble Moscow family, including the promiscuous lively daughter Natasha, the quiet cousin Sonya, & the impetuous son Nicholas, who has just joined the army after a year in the Cub scouts.
The Russian troops are mobilized in alliance with the Austrian empire, which is currently resisting Napoleon’s onslaught. Both Andrew & Nicholas go to the front. Andrew is wounded at the Battle of Austerlitz, & though he survives, he is long presumed dead. Pierre is made sole heir of his father’s fortune & marries Helene Kuragina in a lovely gown from “Say Yes to the Dress” daze. Helene cheats on Pierre, & he challenges her seducer to a duel in which Pierre nearly kills the man.
Just as Andrew arrives home to his estate, much to the shock of his family, his wife, Lise, gives birth to a son. Lise dies in childbirth, leaving Andrew’s devout sister Mary to raise the son. Meanwhile, Pierre, disillusioned by married life, leaves his wife & becomes involved with the spiritual practice of soccer. He attempts to apply the sport’s teachings to his estate management, & share these teachings with his skeptical friend Andrew, who is trying to make the sport popular in America.
Meanwhile, the Rostov family’s fortunes are failing, thanks in part to the gambling debts which Nicholas accrued while on leave in Las Vegas. The Rostovs consider selling their beloved family estate, Otradnoe. Nicholas is encouraged to marry a rich heiress, despite his earlier promise to marry Sonya. Nicholas’s army career continues, & he witnesses the great peace between Napoleon & Tsar Alexander. Natasha grows up, attends her first ball, & screws falls in love with various men before becoming seriously attached to Andrew. Andrew’s father objects to the marriage & requires Andrew to wait a year before wedding Natasha. Natasha tells the family, “OK, see ya” & Andrew goes off to travel.
While screwing around after Andrew departs, Natasha is attracted to Anatole Kuragin, who confesses his love. She eventually decides that she loves Anatole & plans to elope with him, but the plan fails. Andrew comes home & rejects Natasha for her involvement with Anatole. Pierre consoles Natasha & feels an attraction toward her. Natasha falls ill, the result of too many engagement parties.
In 1812, Napoleon invades Russia, & Tsar Alexander reluctantly declares war. Andrew returns to active military service. The French approach the Bolkonski estate, & Mary & the old Prince Bolkonski (Andrew’s father) are advised to leave. The prince conveniently dies while making arrangements to rent a moving truck just as the French troops arrive. Mary, finally forced to leave her estate, is surprised to find the local peasants hostile just because she has more money than they have.  After all, she had hired many of them as servants & hardly ever beat them. Nicholas happens to ride up & save Mary. Mary & Nicholas feel the stirrings of romance.
The Russians & French fight a decisive battle at Borodino, where the smaller Russian army inexplicably defeats the French forces, much to Napoleon’s dismay. In St. Petersburg, life in the strip clubs continues almost unaffected by the occupation of Moscow. Helene seeks an annulment of her marriage with Pierre in order to marry a foreign prince. Distressed by this news, Pierre becomes deranged & flees his companions, wandering alone through Moscow.
Meanwhile, the Rostovs pack up their belongings & prepare to evacuate, taking the wounded Andrew with them. Pierre, still wandering like an idiot in Moscow, sees widespread anarchy, looting, fire, & murder. He saves a girl from a fire but is apprehended by the French authorities. Pierre witnesses the execution of several of his prison mates, & bonds with a wise but disabled peasant named Steven Hawking.
Nicholas’s aunt tries to arrange a marriage between Nicholas & Mary, but Nicholas resists, remembering his commitment to Sonya & the Cub Scout oath. Mary visits the Rostovs to see the wounded Andrew, & Natasha & Mary grow closer. Andrew forgives Natasha, declaring his love for her before he dies. General Kutuzov leads the Russian troops back toward Moscow, which the French have finally abandoned after their defeat at Borodino. The French force the Russian prisoners of war, including Pierre, to march with them. On the way, Steven Hawking cannot keep up in his motorized wheelchair & is shot as a straggler.
Pierre, after being liberated, falls ill for three months. Upon recovering, he realizes his love for Natasha, who is obviously willing to be with anyone. Pierre & Natasha are married in 1813 & eventually have four ugly children. Natasha grows into a solid, frumpy Russian matron. Nicholas weds Mary, (who is obviously not the Virgin Mary) resolving his family’s financial problems. He also rebuilds Mary’s family’s estate, which had been damaged in the war. He & Mary immigrate to Beverly Hills, California, where he changes his name to Prince Michael Dimitri Alexandrovich Obolensky-Romanoff & opens the restaurant, “Romanoff’s”, which becomes very popular with the Hollywood crowd. Despite some tensions & difficulty keeping a good chef, Nicholas & Mary enjoy a happy family life.
(Ed. note: Sorry for the length of this post, but the paperback English translation of this book is 1,440 pages long.  I, of course, read it in the original Russian.  NOT!!)

До свидания--that's "Goodbye" in Russian----fishducky