War and Peace is a daring, epic novel that tells the story of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia in 1812. It paints a vivid tableau of Russian society at the beginning of the nineteenth-century. Written and published before Anna Karenina, from 1865 to 1869 (when Tolstoy was in his late 30s), War and Peace tells of four aristocratic families—the Bezukhovs, Bolkonskies, Rostovs and Kuragins—whose personal lives become caught up in the tumultuous events of the time.
In War and Peace, Tolstoy maintains a delicate balance between stirring scenes of major historical events and intimate portraits of daily life. In 365 chapters (approximately 1500 pages), the author moves back and forth between social life and military life, ballrooms and battles, marriages and massacres, and many venues in between. No character is too small and no subject too large for Tolstoy's broad literary canvas. One critic from Tolstoy's time called its author "a reflector as vast as a natural lake; a monster harnessed to his great subject—all of human life!"