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War and Peace

War and Peace

by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 3, Part 2, Chapter 33 Summary

  • Here’s a good sense of how battle took place in the 19th century. The main action is happening about a mile and a half from where Napoleon is. He’s facing the sun. Seeing something a mile and a half away, covered in smoke, with the sun in your eyes is probably beyond even the best eagle eyes out there, telescope or no.
  • Which means Napoleon can’t see what’s happening or how his troops are doing.
  • Sure, messengers are bringing reports from the field – but this also doesn’t help much because 1) by the time these guys make it to his tent, their news is outdated; and 2) half the reports are just flat-out wrong or third-hand information.
  • Napoleon is giving orders, but so are generals and other officers. All of these orders contradict each other, of course, and half of them can’t be followed.
  • The infantry moves this way and that, but the battle is won and lost through the cannon fire and bullets, not hand-to-hand combat.
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