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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Warfare Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Volume.Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation.

Quote #7

Rostov, in common with the whole army from which he came, was far from having experienced the change of feeling toward Napoleon and the French – who from being foes had suddenly become friends – that had taken place at headquarters and in Boris. In the army, Bonaparte and the French were still regarded with mingled feelings of anger, contempt, and fear. Only recently, talking with one of Platov's Cossack officers, Rostov had argued that if Napoleon were taken prisoner he would be treated not as a sovereign, but as a criminal. Quite lately, happening to meet a wounded French colonel on the road, Rostov had maintained with heat that peace was impossible between a legitimate sovereign and the criminal Bonaparte. Rostov was therefore unpleasantly struck by the presence of French officers in Boris' lodging, dressed in uniforms he had been accustomed to see from quite a different point of view from the outposts of the flank. As soon as he noticed a French officer, who thrust his head out of the door, that warlike feeling of hostility which he always experienced at the sight of the enemy suddenly seized him. (

It's not surprising that you'd still be kind of ticked off at the people you were recently supposed to kill and who were in the process of trying to kill you, right? One reason the military men can't stand the government men is because they're so ready to change allegiances on a dime.

Quote #8

"And what the deuce makes us go to war with Bonaparte?" said Shinshin.

The colonel was a tall, stout, and sanguine German, obviously a seasoned soldier and a patriot. He took offense at Shinshin's words. [...] And with that impeccable official memory peculiar to him, he repeated the introductory words of the manifesto: "'. . . and the desire, which constitutes the sole and absolute aim of the sovereign, to establish peace in Europe on firm foundations, led to his present decision to move part of the army abroad and to make further efforts towards the achievement of that intention.' [...] Ve must fight to the last trop of plod," said the colonel, pounding the table, "und tie for our emperor, and then all vill be veil. And reason as little as possible." (

Interestingly, this guy is basically saying that when it comes to fighting a war, a total lack of thinking is best.

Quote #9

As in the mechanism of a clock, so also in the mechanism of military action, the movement once given is just as irrepressible until the final results, and just as indifferently motionless are the parts of the mechanism not yet involved in the action even a moment before movement is transmitted to them. Wheels whizz on their axles, cogs catch, fast spinning pulleys whirr, yet the neighboring wheel is as calm and immobile as though it was ready to stand for a hundred years in immobility; but a moment comes—the lever catches, and, obedient to its movement, the wheel creaks, turning, and merges into one movement with the whole, the result and purpose of which are incomprehensible to it. As in a clock the result of the complex movement of numberless wheels and pulleys is merely the slow and measured movement of the hands pointing to the time, so also the result of all the complex human movements of these hundred and sixty thousand Russians and French—all the passions, desires, regrets, humiliations, sufferings, bursts of pride, fear, rapture—was merely the loss of the battle of Austerlitz, the so called battle of the three emperors, that is, a slow movement of the world historical hand on the clock face of human history. (

This is a super-famous passage from the book, so it's good to know it. It's another epic simile for the army, this time as a clock mechanism. So sometimes we get the army compared to nature (like the river, in the quotation above), but here it's compared to something manmade and scientific. Does one seem to fit better than the other, given what the book has to say about war?

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