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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 3, Part 1, Chapter 9 Summary

  • Andrei gets to the army headquarters in June. General de Tolly doesn’t know what to do with him and says that he’ll try to ask Alexander where Andrei should be staffed.
  • Andrei tries to get a sense of what’s happening with the army. He figures out that no one is really in charge. Alexander is with the army, but he’s not officially the commander in chief, and his entourage is just some court people rather than a special commanding staff. Because of this, there is no clear idea about what strategy to use, or even what to do.  Instead, everyone is split into competing groups, each with their own ideas:
  • Group 1: People who believe that war is a science. They are led by Pfuel, the guy who wrote the campaign strategy.  They want to retreat further back into Russia.
  • Group 2: People who are against Group 1. They want to advance and attack the French in Poland.
  • Group 3: People whom Alexander trusts the most. They are a mix of Groups 1 and 2, trying to walk a middle ground, without knowing too much about the arguments. They mostly say what they think Alexander wants to hear.
  • Group 4: People who only see disaster ahead and are terrified of Napoleon. They want to try to broker peace at any cost.
  • Group 5: People who want Barclay de Tolly to be commander in chief. Not because of any awesome military prowess or anything, but just because he’s a pretty good guy.
  • Group 6: People who want Bennigsen to be commander in chief. He lost a big battle back in 1807, but still, he’s a seasoned general.
  • Group 7: Alexander groupies who want the emperor to also be the commander in chief.
  • Group 8: Far and away the biggest majority, they don’t care about the big picture, they just want whatever is “the greatest benefit and pleasure for themselves” (
  • Group 9: Old, experienced statesmen who actually know what’s what.
  • The people in Group 9 figure out that things would be better without Alexander on the battlefield. They send him a letter saying so and asking him to instead go on a morale-boosting tour of the country. Alexander agrees.

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