War and Peace
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Napoleon's invasion of Russia forms the backdrop for Tolstoy's literary masterpiece. At its centre are Pierre Bezuhov, searching for meaning in his life; cynical Prince Andrei, ennobled by suffering in the war; and Natasha Rostova, whose impulsiveness threatens to destroy her happiness. As Tolstoy follows the changing fortunes of these characters and their families, scenes of domestic life are juxtaposed with magnificent battle sequences, creating a view of humanity that is both epic and intimate. Often considered the greatest novel in any language, War and Peace is also a philosophical meditation on the tension between free will and fate as the forces of history move inexorably forward.