One word, three letters: WOW! I absolutely love this book, the story, the philosophy in it and the author. As the cover states, it really is a book that you don't just read. You live it.
At first, I was a bit daunted. In the first part, the reader gets too much information to cope with. The Russian names of people and places don't make it easier either. Tolstoy also has this habit of referring to the same person in different ways by switching between their first name, last name, nick name, title, ... all the time. After the second part (which starts after about 115 pages) I was completely hooked however and I am so happy I decided to stick to this book.
I hear many people complaining about Tolstoy going on and on about his views on the world and history. Personally, I didn't find it boring or tedious to read at all. I even find myself looking upon events in the world as in my personal life completely different now. This book has changed my life forever.
I'm not giving it 5 stars, since this edition not only translated the Russian into English, but also replaced the French and German parts with English translations. Since I can read French and German (but not Russian :-)) I was sad to hear that other editions exist which keep the French and German parts intact; I should have picked up one of those. Some paragraphs have really lost some of their meaning and impact by excessive, but necessary, use of `said she in French' or `he said in German'. Pity.
Great book however and an epic story. Absolutely marvellous to spend countless evenings with!