Scathing Book Reviews of War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is probably the most famous book that the fewest have ever read. To rephrase, we’ve all heard of it. Most of us haven’t read it.

Why? Its reputation for complexity and for length (although it’s 2 places behind Atlas Shrugged in the list of longest novels.) I remember, of all things, a Get Smart gag in which an assassin tried to kill Max with a sword, only for Max to block it with a copy of War and Peace. Max’s line? “No one ever gets through War and Peace!” Well to me it was funny… For these reviewers, “War” never seemed to end:

Let me start by acknowledging that Leo Tolstoy is often regarded as one of the preeminent authors of all time. Let me follow that with the acknowledgement that many consider “War and Peace” to be the greatest triumph in human literature… Let me follow that by saying that I don’t get it.

…and:

If you don’t have time to read this book then read the cliff notes and skip to the last 80 pages of the book. They’re all that really matter.

…and:

I always look for myself in a book. As I read the endless but addictive pages of Tolstoy’s classic masterpiece, I found myriads and myriads of characters. I did not find one that was courageous, loving, bashful, angry, shy, ticklish, confused, clear-thinking, beautiful, handsome, tall, big-boned, wonderful, life-of-the-party, interesting, creative, and desirable. These are all qualities that I identify as my own.

…and:

This type of literature is not going to hold an audience anymore. So many people have the opportunity to live interesting lives nowadays why would they stop to read a novel of this length about a bunch of fictional charaters when they could be spending the time actually LIVING their own lives? It was a real drag.

…and:

Tolstoy was such self-important, disrespectful, intolerant, bum!

…and:

I have been struggling to get through it for 20 years (true story… I started reading this dreck in 1984) and I’m just now 1/2 way through. How this long-winded pointless book became known as one of the great novels is beyond me.

…and:

Im 11, thatas probably why i really dont like the book, but my point made is, my mom grounded me and made me read war and peace, and it was the worst punistment i have ever been through, i asked my family to read a page of it, and they all fell asleep, sorry to all the people that liked it

…and this review, in which Bret Easton Ellis is associated with Leo Tolstoy for perhaps the first and last time:

I am sure Bret Easton Ellis would have a field day with the social elite that inhabit War and Peace, for they are the most shallow, self-destructive people of that time… it all boils down to this: If you like watching people swoon over and fight one another while the more important issues , like defending one’s country, are placed as a backdrop for their pathetic lives, than this is the book for you.

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