War and Peace: The Battles At Home And Abroad

Guerraepace

Photo credit: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m going to start this post with a big ole disclaimer: I hope this is not offensive. That is not my intention.

I read War and Peace last year and it rocked my world. I have not been able to convince anyone to read it, not even Darcy, who just read Freedom, which references War and Peace on every other page. War and Peace is free on Kindle. And it is the best book I’ve ever read, with the exception of Pride and Prejudice. So maybe, you’ll consider reading it?

To perhaps better make my case: I’m not a book snob. The last book I read was The Hunger Games. 😉

One of the things I enjoyed about W & P (yes, we’re on an initial basis) is that it followed the doings among those on the battlefield, those on the home front and those whose home world collided with the battle field. It follows the famous and infamous and the nobodies. Because the book is a grand book about LIFE, it does cover pregnancy and loss. Because, this is something that has always existed.

The battle scenes are unforgettable and sear the mind. They are absurd, tragic and heroic and the after effects are chronicled. Some of the characters suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Tolstoy clearly knew about it before it was a word.

I was listening to NPR today, and they interviewed an Iraqi vet who suffers from PTSD. Did you know up to 15% of vets commit suicide? Battle technology has obviously improved since the war of 1812, but the aftermath on the individual who goes through battle doesn’t seem too different than what Tolstoy described.

He also details a loss that occurs during pregnancy and the unalterable events this loss sets into place. How devastating it is.

I don’t want to compare the warfare that soldiers face versus what many women have to deal with in regards to infertility and loss, because clearly it’s an apples and oranges situation. But, it’s just sad to note that both of these types of battle are still being fought 200 years after the events chronicled by Tolstoy.

One of the many things makes the book triumphant and worth reading is how one of the survivors alters the way they see the world. I don’t want to give anything away, but this character comes across someone who would be considered very zen these days. This person has a unique way of looking at the world. This character lives for the present and doesn’t dwell in the past, where tragedies happened or in the future, which looks very grim.

Again, this lesson is served up to me. Life is crappy and joyful, horrific and absurd, tumultuous and still. The only way to cope with the crazy ups and downs is to try to ground yourself in the now. And, oh, how difficult that is…

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11 Comments

Filed under Discovering joy, Fear, Infertility

11 responses to “War and Peace: The Battles At Home And Abroad

  1. I’m reading “The Wisdom of No Escape”. it’s very Buddhist light, but some of the themes are the same, “life is everything” “we’re saints, we’re evil”, etc. we can survive or we can become embittered” which makes me think I should read Mr. War and Ms. Peace yet. I don’t know t hem well enough to use their first names yet.
    If nothing else, I’d have reading material for a while..

  2. You’ve almost made me want to revisit this book … which I confess, I did not love …

    • I read it (or tried to) when I was a teenager, and I think you might have to go through some serious life experiences before you read it in order to like it. Or not…that was my experience anyway! But, I didn’t like it the first time I read it. Full disclosure!

  3. I’m with you. It has been a while but I loved this book (though I loved Anna Karenina even more). Tolstoy has an understanding of human nature and a skill for writing that made both of the books incredibly memorable for me.

    And as you mention, almost a century and a half later, it’s pretty clear that the human condition has changed surprisingly little.

    • Thanks for reminding me of Anna Karenina: I really want to read that book. YES: you’re right: he does have a gift for understanding human nature and writing about it that felt modern to me even though he’s been dead a long time.

  4. I guess I was too young when I read it as part of the high school program. I skipped almost all the war parts, reading only the peace parts…

  5. That’s what I did when I was a teenager too. The names and nicknames of the characters drove me nuts too the first time I read it too: everyone had about 5 different names. The new edition makes the characters much easier to identify and follow. And the war stuff is pretty intense, but ultimately worth reading. I thought 🙂

  6. This is one of those books that has always been on my “to-read” list but I’ve never gotten to it–you’re making me want to bump it up to the top.

  7. Chickenpig

    I will definitely give it another go, thanks to your endorsement. The name thing confounded me the first couple of times I tried to read it as a teenager. If this edition has cleared it up a bit, and now that I’m older, I hope I can get more out of it. Everyone needs a little light summer reading on their Kindle, right? 🙂

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