War and Peace is an epic novel by Leo Tolstoy published in 1869, centering around Russians during Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia. The novel mainly follows two wealthy families, the Bolkonskys and the Rostov's, particularly Prince Andrei and Pierre Bezukhov, the former of whom dies in the end. The novel presents a spiritual tension between individual enlightenment and historical glory--a theme that many of the characters struggle during their near-death experiences. The novel ends with an epilogue in which Tolstoy expounds upon his theory of history.

Summary of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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War and Peace Chapter Summaries (Free)


Review: The most popular website for book notes. SparkNotes was created by students for students, and their summaries are accessible and extremely well-written. Besides the usual plot overview, chapter summaries, and character analysis, SparkNotes differentiates itself with a section discussing themes, motifs, and symbols.

2Cliffs Notes

Review: The original provider of professionally-written study guides, Cliffs Notes were available in print form before the Internet even existed. Their content is very comprehensive and includes an analysis of characters, detailed chapter by chapter summaries, critical essays, essay topics, and many other sections.

3Pink Monkey

Review: Their chapter summaries aren't as good as other providers, but PinkMonkey often has interesting insights that aren't mentioned elsewhere on the Internet. For example, they go over literary elements (like setting, conflict, and mood), compare and contrast, and symbolism/motifs. It's a good site if you want to find a unique fact or angle that other students don't know about.