Thoughts on: War & Peace: Book 4 Part 3

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About:
War and Peace by Leo Tol­stoy is a fic­tional book first pub­lished in 1869. The work is regarded as one of the most impor­tant works of world lit­er­a­ture. The copy I read was trans­lated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

  • 1350 pages
  • Pub­lisher: Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press, USA; New edition
  • ISBN: 0199232768

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Thoughts:
Tolstoy lays off the aristocracy in this part and concentrates more on the “war” part of the novel. In the novel, is in real life, the lines between good and bad are very murky and usually depends on which line you’re standing on.

The author makes sure the reader knows that war is brutal and merciless. One must ask themselves if Dolohov is perhaps right when he says that killing prisoners is more humane in the long-run or when a beloved friend dies, Dolohov’s first instinct is to execute Frenchman. Of course we all like to see ourselves in a different light, as heroes, the “good guys”, however Dolohov makes it clear that beign the good guy and being the victor are sometimes two different things.

Dolohov uses cunning, knowledge, lies and brutality to win. Along the way Dolohov gets admirers to his tactics which, even though seem barbaric, have the desired affects.

The readers gets to see the same battle from two distinct point of view, that of the victors and that of a prisoner of war who has been freed. Now matter which side you’re on, it is clear that the cost of this “glorious victory” has been huge and one has to ask if the two sides are actually any different.

Synopsis:
Denisov, who previously proposed guerrilla warfare, finds himself in his element and in command of a small detachment. Kutuzov is trying not get into open conflict with the French who are harassed by guerrillas. Denisov would like to attack French troops but is awaiting Dolohov, who leads another detachment of guerrillas, to come back with intelligence about troop size.

Peyta reports to Denisov, who recognizes him and gives him permission to stick around. Soon Peyta meets Tikhon, a brave, happy peasant who tried to infiltrate a French camp and capture someone to give him intelligence. While everyone is sitting around enjoying Tikohn’s story of foolish bravery, it occurs to Peyta that Tikhon just killed a human being. However, no one seems to care so he pushes it out of his mind.

Petya, noticeably an childish aristocrat, tries to make himself likeable to the other troops by giving away food and equipment. He also feeds the French drummer boy arrested earlier. Dolohov arrives just in time to see the drummer boy and starts drilling Denisov about his treatment of prisoners. While Dolohov is known for his cruelty to prisoners of war, Denisov says that he simply hands them over to the proper authorities. Dolohov makes the case that the proper authorities simply keep the prisoners until they die of cold or starvation and it would be more merciful to simply shoot them.  Denisov is well aware of the situation but says he cannot shoot prisoners and have that on his conscience.

As Dolohov prepares to infiltrate the French camp dressed as a French officer he asks for volunteers. Petya volunteers to accompany Dolohov and they walk straight into the French camp. Petya is impressed by Dolohov’s courage and calmness as he refuses to give the password to the French sentry and openly interrogates the man about troop sizes and positions.

Great price on this book in paper or elec­tronic format

More books by Leo Tolstoy

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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