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War and Peace

Written by: Leo Tolstoy
Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
Length: 61 hrs and 6 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy's genius is clearly seen in the multitude of characters in this massive chronicle, all of them fully realized and equally memorable. Out of this complex narrative emerges a profound examination of the individual's place in the historical process, one that makes it clear why Thomas Mann praised Tolstoy for his Homeric powers and placed War and Peace in the same category as The Iliad.

 War and Peace was translated by Constance Garnett.

Public Domain (P)2009 Blackstone Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 13-02-06

A Work of genius

I first read the book when in High School many years ago. Only now do I realize that much of the complexity and substance had escaped my first encounter.This is a timeless classic and a work of genius. The narration was superb. I was sorry to see it end.

61 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Plumeria
  • 25-09-05

Glad I finally decided to read it

I downloaded a free study guide off the web and that helped me keep the characters straight in the beginning. The guide's critical analysis helped me enjoy the book even more. Be sure to let the first several hours wash over you. Just enjoy being swept along. Soon you'll remember who everyone is and be thoroughly engrossed. My dogs got extra long walks for a couple months! I was sorry it ended.

213 of 220 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 16-02-05

Audible listens!

Subscribers asked for a better narrated version of the awesome "War and Peace," and quietly Audible recently offered this superb rendition. The narration is excellent and unlike the droning Zimmerman, Frederick Davidson brings the material and the characters to life. My opinion of Audible has risen substantially, and I am thoroughly enjoying one of the greatest novels ever written.






232 of 241 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anthony
  • 22-09-08

Five stars doesn't say it

My limited experience doesn't have a class for War and Peace. Well, I'm no Ph.D, but I've done a respectable stint with the classic. I rattled off a list of reputable authors and how I like them at first, citing it sort of to demonstrate my taste; ultimately I deleted it because even all those invocations of classicism didn't express my newfound reverence for Tolstoy.

Anyway, I had anticipated reading War and Peace (eventually...), but hadn't anticipated it as an audiobook until I got two credits here as gifts. As you may have noticed, I liked it. I really liked it. I liked it so much that that, ruefully, I'm trying to write such a glowing review that people reading will think I must throw "five stars" around all the time, and they'll be wrong: Tolstoy not only snatched the Favorite Book trophy, he ran off with it for half a mile. Funny I've never *read* my favorite book, but there you go.

That's all opinion though, and for all I know an abnormal one. In fact, I'd be surprised if any significant statistic of people liked it as I do, but I'd wager on anybody loving it sooner than her hating it.

I don't think Frederick Davidson will remain my favorite narrator once I've heard more than two. I think he did very, very well with this, but I sympathize with some of the reviewers who couldn't get over some of his intonations. I got over them quite easily, you see, and even appreciate them, but they did take getting over first. Other than that, he slipped up only once in the whole work, mixing up two characters voices in one conversation. This is unabridged War and Peace: that has to count for something by itself.

Last thing, if you don't like history/philosophy/philosophy of history/lengthy tangents thereon, beware. Those things greatly added to my enjoyment, but there you go.

83 of 87 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tambi
  • 06-07-07

War and Peace

This is an experience everyone should have at least once in a lifetime -- and, with luck, multiple times. Listen and read simultaneously for even more exquisite hours. The reader is fabulous.

32 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Erez
  • 27-11-08

Amazing

First, a few technical notes:
- The translation used in the audiobook is the one by Constance Garnett.
- The actual length of the book is about 61 hours, since the last four hours (the epilogues) are repeated twice.

The narrator (whose real name was David Case -- he passed away in 2005) seems to provoke extreme reactions: some people can't stand him, others can't get enough of him. I happen to belong to the second class, and I believe he is especially suited for this novel. However, if you find his voice as irritating as some of the other reviewers, you should probably go for another version.

And now for the book itself. In "The Brothers Karamazov", Dostoyevsky writes: "Show a Russian schoolboy a map of the stars, which he knows nothing about, and he will give you back the map next day with corrections on it." Tolstoy is the ideal to which all such schoolboys aspire, and "War and Peace" is his greatest achievement. Not only is this immense work a novel, it is a place for Tolstoy to expound his views on the causes and persons of the Napoleonic wars, on the methods of historical research, on free will and (of course) the existence of God. I can't say that I found everything convincing or even interesting -- for example, he takes a lot of pains to demonstrate the Napoleon was not a military genius but a blundering fool -- but for the sheer complexity and ambition of this work I cannot help but award it five stars.

117 of 124 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • connie
  • 20-05-08

A great listen- not a cliche!

I did not expect to like W&P (in fact, I downloaded it only because I was stuck in bed for a length of time and wanted to joke that I was so bored that I read/listened to W&P), but it's become one of my favorite listens. On one level it's a riveting 19th century soap opera, with breaks for philosophical treatises rather than commercials. Then there's Tolstoy's brilliant expression of his psychological insight. What I studied at university (70s, 80s,) as the "new" historiography was actually expressed better by Tostoy than the postmoderns I read. I usually skip battle scenes to avoid violence, but skipped none of this - even the description of "wolf hunting" referred to by another reviewer was so well done that it captured me. This is one of the few audiobooks that I will subsequently buy to read/reread passages.

Unlike other reviewers, I like Frederick Davidson's narration. His style for W&P was a bit more lively than usual (more variety than his delivery of Les Miserables but not as campy as his readings of P.G. Wodehouse). For me he enhanced the listen. As others pointed out - there ARE many characters, and Davidson's style helped me sort them out. Tolstoy sometimes changes his prose style to reflect his characters mentality does he not? The variety of inflection sometimes helped point to that.

63 of 68 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Caio
  • 25-12-07

An incredible experince

The book is amazingly good, Frederick Davidson is an excelente narrator too. The only flaw in this audio book is the recording. A few times it looks like your're listening to a jumping vinyl record, but nothing that prevents you from having a wonderful experience.
Higly recomended.

37 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tad Davis
  • 17-08-08

The narrator is an acquired taste

Frederick Davidson is definitely an acquired taste. Other reviews here have noted some of the irritating qualities of his narration: fey, somewhat nasal, pseudo-posh, most sentences ending with a rising inflection, like a question. On the other hand, it should be said that his narration is always clear and energetic, and the characters are given immediately recognizable voices; in this particular case, given the length of the book, the recording is a good value for the money. Listen to the sample, and if Davidson's voice doesn't bother you, get it. (On balance, I'd have to say I prefer the Naxos recording with Neville Jason, although I have some issues with his narration as well.)

54 of 59 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • thunder road
  • 16-10-06

Great literature given justice

Now I know why “War and Peace” ranks so high on great books lists. Tolstoy has the unique ability to move from the high to the low seamlessly. His minute descriptions of daily life are detailed, yet lithe enough to pulse with life without plodding. His treatment of his character’s psychology is nuanced without being pretentious. And lastly, his grasp of the philosophy behind human events is stunning, though decidedly debatable.

Plot-wise, there are few novels that leave me feeling that everything that happened was inevitable without second guessing the author. This novel, though sprawling and complex, has a feeling of self-contained inevitability.

The characters seem to breathe. Tolstoy develops his main character, Pierre from a seeming oaf in a prissy drawing room, through mystical insanity to a final solidity in his final married life. Indeed, it seems that the “peace” of Pierre finds in the hearth is the proper counterpoint to the backdrop of “war.” Other characters seem intensely real as well, from the duplicitous Kuragin to the lively, pretty and impetuous Natalia. These characters strike a chord of truth and grow to encompass their experiences.

There are, of course, flaws. Karatayev seems an idealized Russian peasant. Though feeling inevitable in the novel, the Pierre- Natasha- Andre love triangle seems overly novelistic. And Tolstoy has a propensity to preach for pages at an end.

The flaws, however, are far outweighed by the perfections. “War and Peace” is worth experiencing.

As to the reading, Davidson animates his characters, giving each a separate voice. He does have a habit of pausing in the middle of sentences to take a breath, and emphasizing odd phrases. Still, I find myself immensely pleased with the book. Great literature given justice; Entertaining as well as enlightening.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Fahim Ahmad
  • 26-02-18

Great text, terrible reading

One of the greatest novels ever written, made difficult by narration lacking passion and charisma.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-09-16

Profound insight into human existence

An epic in its scale of historical events, the unfolding of its characters' and the philosophical terrain they navigate. without doubt the most enlightening combination of fiction, history and philosophy I have encountered! Outstanding performance from its reader.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joel
  • 21-07-16

Great for what it is. Not very climatic.

Great work and excellent writing, but very hard to follow because of the difference between today's language and the way it is written.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ellen Johnston
  • 02-08-19

A struggle to listen to

There seem to be two different objects in this book and the only thing connecting these two are the Napoleonic wars in Russia. There is a storyline that just appears out of nowhere and dribbles on without actually going anywhere and just stops without an actual conclusion.
Then there is Tolstois philosopgical rflection on history and the science of history in general and in particular in regards to the Napoleonic wars.
I found listening to it very hard. It would probably be much easier to read this work of literature and to glean any meaning from it. As an audio book it is a struggle.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-10-18

Excellent!

Loved it, thought provoking. A brilliant work.

That is all I have to say, thank you.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 08-07-16

Red

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0 of 41 people found this review helpful