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Author Topic: French invade Moscow!  (Read 46 times) Average Rating: 0
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Rambam
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« on: April 10, 2014, 10:12:31 PM »

Been reading War and Peace, and I just came to the end of Book 3 (spoiler alert!) -- Napoleon's invasion of Moscow. This part of the book is disappointing. The Russian army retreats past Moscow, the city is emptied, the insane and criminals are released from the asylums and prisons, the city is practically empty. Napoleon basically waltzes into a ghost town -- probably wondering "where the heck is the Russian army?" -- and waiting for Russian troops to pour out of their hiding spots. The bells of the churches in the Kremlin start to ring for vespers -- the French thought it was the signal for the Russian troops to attack ... and nothing.

I can't imagine how anxious, terrifying, and even spooky this day must have been for everyone. What a great story this would be to tell! But Tolstoy? He's so busy trying to beat us over the head about how absurd the whole French invasion is that his description focuses on the comic, messy, dirty chaos -- bordering on levity.

An event that inspired Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture has to have led to a novel or two that's at least as stirring. So, I'm wondering -- any of you all know of a novel or even a non-fiction book that tells this day with a bit more drama than Tolstoy musters? I've seen a novel out there called "Moscow: A story of the French invasion" by Fred Whishaw. Is this any good? Are there other options?

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