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
Award winning reporter and novelist says there are no superlatives too superlative for Anna Politkovskaya, who, after three books and innumerable investigative reporting trips to Chechnya, was murdered in Moscow
The questions of moral philosophy are not always best answered by philosophy books, says leading moral philosopher, Jonathan Glover. He explores questions of how we should live and by what values in books spanning across multiple genres.
The respected author in an intimate discussion about his personal views on autism, prompted by his relationship with his own autistic son. Discusses books that reflect the values of empathy and authenticity
Research shows that middle-aged sex is the best of people’s lives, says journalist and author Kate Figes. She picks the best books on sex and marriage.
The psychologist and trustee of Alzheimer’s charity SPECAL says British and American women today are 5 times more likely to suffer a mental illness than in the 1950s
In Russia, it’s often fallen to writers to challenge conventions and speak the truth, says the translator and biographer Rosamund Bartlett. She makes a personal selection of some of the most exhilarating Russian short fiction.
History is usually studied and written from the perspective of war, says veteran journalist John Gittings. It can look very different when viewed from the perspective of peace.
They’re among the finest novels ever written, often vast in their scope and ambitious in their subject matter. Some are long, others can be read in an afternoon. They’re also one of the best ways of understanding Russian history. Historian Orlando Figes, author of The Story of Russia, recommends his favourite Russian novels, from the 19th century to today.
The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
Exhaust the Limits: The Life and Times of a Global Peacebuilder
by Charles F Dambach
Connexity: How to Live in a Connected World
by Geoff Mulgan
Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Fundamentalism, Radicalisation and Terrorism
by Jessica Yakeley and Paul Cundy (eds.)
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.
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.
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:
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.
What is historical fiction? Does it have to be historically accurate? Zimbabwean novelist Tendai Huchu talks us through five important examples of historical novels, including three set in Africa.
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.
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.
Bestselling novelist and historian Stella Tillyard says the 19th century Regency era was, apart from the duels and empire-line dresses, much like our own – a time of war and economic uncertainty.
'Anarchism', in the Encyclopaedia Britannica
by Peter Kropotkin
Gates of Freedom: Voltairine de Cleyre and the Revolution of the Mind
by Eugenia C. DeLamotte
The Slavery of Our Times
by Leo Tolstoy
Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader
by Chris Wilbert, Colin Ward & Damian F. White
Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940
by Lucien van der Walt & Steven Hirsch
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.