War and Peace: A Book for Now

Coincidence is something I no longer question.

Just a few days ago I was searching for a video with a story that persists from generation to generation for its universal truths. I had just reviewed a children’s book for a fellow writer in which I compared it to a children’s book written by Leo Tolstoy for school children (The Bear). It got me thinking about a time in my life when Tolstoy’s War and Peace led me to read many of his stories, essays and children’s books.

War and Peace, I like the 1956 film version, is a story anchored in the Napoleonic war in Russia. I watched it again this weekend on Amazon Prime. It was gorgeous, expansive, and thrilling even after all these years. I “heard” Tolstoy’s voice, powerful and clear, as he shows the truth about war, love and the meaning of life through his wonderful yet flawed characters.

The shadow of nationalism passed over Europe and Russia; war looms as once shared values diverge. Dialogue fails. Conflict looms. Tolstoy describes the battles outside and inside each character along the arc of their personal discoveries.

Coincidentally, I scanned C-Span Books today for an interesting book review. The first book presented was a 2014 review with Andrew Kaufman’s book Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times. It took place at the Politics and Prose bookstore in D.C. Dr. Kaufman delivers an engaging rationale for why Tolstoy’s classic story is perfect for our time.