Reading for Friday, 17 April

A short linking chapter here. The most interesting thing, I thought, was the previously unmentioned (or if he was mentioned, none of us took any notice of him) General Dohturov.

I assume he was a real character – but I couldn’t find anything about him on Wikipedia, so I’m guessing that I’ll just have to take Tolstoy’s word for it (either that or I need to look for a different spelling).

Sorry, also, forgot to mention that this is all against the background of Moscow being even more trashed and burned than it was previously. It’s almost like things have to get darker before they get better.

One thing this chapter did remind me of was one of my favourite films (Gettysburg) and the novel it was based on (The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara). Both of them tell the story of the battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. It was easily the decisive battle of the Civil War and the turning point where the North started to win.

However, much like this battle here, it was never intended to be a full-scale engagement. Gettysburg started when a Confederate general took some soldiers into a little village called Gettysburg in Pennsylvania looking for some shoes.  They got attacked by a bunch of Northern cavalry officers. The Southerners for some reason thought that the cavalry were just local militia (townsfolk with guns) and started fighting back.

However, it wasn’t townsfolk – it was Cavalry, and before they knew it, the entire Northern Army converged on the town.

It’s exactly what we see here. Kutuzov sends Dohturov off to have a skirmish with a small group of French – only for him to run into the entire French army.


4 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 13.15 – A Little Cog

  1. Before commenting on this chapter Matt, I think we have somehow gotten slightly out of sync wth the chapters and the dates. I am now actually two days behind you – with this chapter actually being, I thught, the chapter for today, April 19. I do notice that you had two chapters down for April 3, but I didn’t look back further than that. Anyway, I’m happy to read ahead to catch up with your dates.

    The small cog is spelled as “Dokhturov” in my version (which would be the more conventional transliteration of the Russian Дохтуров), and you can find a fair bit about him here:

    It is certainly very much in keeping with Tolstoy’s approach that this person, so relatively insignificant in the official retelling of the story of the war, has in fact been one of the real stayers – the dependable wheel, not in the limelight, but the one that keeps things running.

  2. Oh yes, Dokhturov certainly is a real character – here’s a portrait of him on my collection at Photo Bucket – I probably got it from Wikipedia . . .

    I think there’s a ‘K’ in that name – maybe that’s why you couldn’t find it – let’s see if I can . . .

    Yep – here he is . . .


    Ahhhhhh! The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara – I am about to start that book myself – it’s up for discussion at Reading Group Guides . . . it’s supposed to be a real goodie, so I’m looking forward to it.

    (We’re also doing Sarah’s Key, as I mentioned before, Bridge of Sighs – which is a great book! We’re also working on Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky. There’s others too – just can’t think of them right now.)

    Are you going to be posting your views on The Killer Angels, Matt?


    Ian, I see you’re doing well with your studies of the Russian language. I remember your saying you wanted to learn to read it.

  3. I can’t remember if I’ve ever reviewed “Killer Angels” on here. At some stage in the future, it would be kind of nice to read through the Shaara trilogy. But I might take a bit of time off after W&P to recover myself . . .

  4. But, sorry, yes, I have read them all and they’re absolutely fantastic war novels. They have a real depth of humanity about them, and you’ll really enjoy them.

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