War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, published serially, then in its entirety in 1869. It is regarded as a central work of world literature and one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements.
The novel chronicles the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families.
Tolstoy said War and Peace is "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle." Large sections, especially the later chapters, are philosophical discussion rather than narrative. Tolstoy also said that the best Russian literature does not conform to standards and hence hesitated to call War and Peace a novel. Instead, he regarded Anna Karenina as his first true novel. The Encyclopædia Britannica states: "It can be argued that no single English novel attains the universality of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace."