Reading for Monday, 6 April

Just in case you missed the point of how useless generals are in the grand scheme of things, we get this little chapter. After a brief reminder that the upcoming battle was inevitable and that Kutuzov was just agreeing to what was already going on, we launch into the story of the messenger sent to find General Yermolov.

I’ll let you read the story for yourself, because it’s quite amusing, but it’s very clear that if the history books were to claim anything special for Yermolov . . . Tolstoy would be the first to disagree.

I did quite like the bizarre concept that somewhere in the no-man’s land between the French and Russian lines, there’d be a party going on. I’m not sure why, but it’s just one of those little details that sounds very, very true to life.


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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 13.4 – The Uselessness of Generals

  1. I agree absolutely, Matt – the whole idea that it took so long to track Ermolov down, and that he ened up at a party of all things, while the country is in turmoil around him, just seems so unsettlingly familiar. I guess there’s something horrofying about that thought – and yet, on the other hand, given everything we have already been through in terms of learning about what really drives history (in Tolstoy’s view), then the General being at a party is really ultimately neither here nor there – or, at least, no more here or there than what every other of those thousands upon thousands of people are doing. It’s where they are collectively, not individually, that matters.

  2. I really felt the frustration of those trying to find Ermolov – at the most important time, he was at a party. And it’s so typical of what goes on between common workers and the upper echelon in an organization.

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