Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy, the 19th century Russian novelist who wrote—among others—the books War and Peace and Anna Karenina, is generally considered one of the greatest novelists of all time.

Born Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy in Tula, Russia, Leo Tolstoy first came to literary attention with the publication of a trilogy of autobiographical books (Childhood, Boyhood and Youth) while he was still in his twenties. The young Tolstoy served as an officer in the Crimean War, an experience that greatly disturbed him and profoundly changed his emotional and political outlook; his later works are notable for the realistic portrayals of Russian daily life and the horrors of war.

English speakers hoping to read Tolstoy’s masterpiece War and Peace for the first time are recommended to consult our brief interview with Rosamund Bartlett, where she talks us through the various translations of War and Peace, and what their strengths and weaknesses are considered to be. Bartlett herself translated the Oxford World Classics edition of Anna Karenina.

Books by Leo Tolstoy

Interviews where books by Leo Tolstoy were recommended

The best books on Peace, recommended by Steve Killelea

Efforts to bring about peace have often focused on eliminating the conditions of war, violence and terrorism. But as Steve Killelea—founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace and the annual Global Peace Index—explains, the foundations of sustainable peace are radically different from the absence of war and violence. Here, he recommends five books that shed light on the building blocks of peace and explains why ‘positive peace’ is so important.

Five of the Best European Classics, recommended by David Campbell

Europe may be made up of many cultures but its component parts share an artistic and literary sensibility, says Everyman’s Library publisher David Campbell. Here, he recommends five European classics that everyone should read at least once in their life, including “the greatest novel ever written” and some lesser-known masterpieces.

The Best Long Books To Read in Lockdown, recommended by Five Books

If you’re stuck in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be time to finally crack open that one long read you always meant to get around to, but slid down your list of books for whatever reason—not enough time, too many pages. Problem is, there are so many monster doorstoppers, and it can be hard to tell which are worth your time. The Five Books editors weigh in:

The best books on War, recommended by Cécile Fabre

If killing is wrong, how can going to war be justified? Is it always wrong to kill civilians? If a Nazi soldier were billeted in your home, should you respond when he greets you? Philosopher Cécile Fabre chooses Five Books that help explore the profound ethical dilemmas of war.

The Best War Writing, recommended by Kate McLoughlin

War writing extends to all sorts of genres, including blogs and Twitter. Oxford University’s Professor Kate McLoughlin, author of Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from the Iliad to Iraq recommends some of her favourite books of war writing.

Niall Ferguson on His Intellectual Influences

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson tells us about the diverse influences on his work, from Keynes and Tolstoy to an Austrian satirist. He explains how he prefers a philosophy of history that emphasises the contingent and the chaotic, rather than the neatly predictable.

The best books on Anarchism, recommended by Ruth Kinna

Sometimes vilified, often misunderstood, rarely taught in universities, anarchism is a political philosophy and social movement that’s far removed from today’s mainstream politics. But it was and remains a powerful motivator. Political theorist Ruth Kinna talks us through the best books to read to get a better understanding of anarchism.

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