Publication Date: July 8, 2003
In 1851 Leo Tolstoy enlisted in the Russian army and was sent to the Caucasus to help defeat the Chechens. During this war a great Avar chieftain, Hadji Murád, broke with the Chechen leader Shamil and fled to the Russians for safety. Months later, while attempting to rescue his family from Shamil’s prison, Hadji Murád was pursued by those he had betrayed and, after fighting the most heroic battle of his life, was killed.
Tolstoy, witness to many of the events leading to Hadji Murád’s death, set down this story with painstaking accuracy to preserve for future generations the horror, nobility, and destruction inherent in war.
Azar Nafisi is a visiting professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. She won a fellowship at Oxford University and has taught literature and aesthetics at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, and Allameh Tabatabai University in Iran. She lives in Washington, D.C.
“[Tolstoy is the] greatest of all novelists.” —Virginia Woolf