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Watch War and Peace unfold through the day

On 1 January, Radio 4 is broadcasting a ten hour dramatisation of War and Peace, on air, on the Radio 4 website and on Twitter.

The ten episodes run through the day, starting at 9 in the morning and ending at 9.30pm, only breaking for the News and other programmes. See the day’s schedule here.

The Russian epic is taking over the Radio 4 Twitter account, with tweets written by David Schneider (The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge) - the perfect solution if you've consistently failed to read the book.

Or you can watch the story unfold on this page - we'll be updating through the day with family trees, battle plans and audio.

You should meet the cast ...

Paterson Joseph plays Pierre Buzukhov

Paterson Joseph as Pierre, John Hurt as Prince Bolkonsky, Simon Russell Beale as Napoleon and Natasha Little as Marya Bolkonsky lead a stunng cast.

The cast list and production credits

And the families - you'll be getting to know them very well

War and Peace follows a group of aristocratic families in early 19th century Russia

We follow these two through thick and thin ...

And so the day begins ...

Napoleon ramps up his determination to conquer Russia

When Captain Denisov recalls the Battle of Austerlitz

The build up to The Battle of Austerlitz

The enemy were already sending us their cannon balls

Napoleon's designs on Russia form the backbone of War and Peace

Hear the episodes so far ...

Catch up through the day on iPlayer or sign up for the download and receive each episode automatically

The programmes will be available for 30 days. The podcast will be available to download for 14 days - then you can keep them forever.

When old Prince Bolkonsky hears worrying news from Austerlitz

John Hurt as Prince Bolkonsky

The old prince reacts to worrying news about his son from The Battle of Austerlitz.

The story so far ...

Catch up - programmes & downloads

Catch up through the day on iPlayer or sign up for the download and receive each episode automatically

The programmes will be available for 30 days. The podcast will be available to download for 14 days - then you can keep them forever.

Tolstoy's New Year Resolutions 1 - Keep an open mind

We can learn a lot about the art of living from Tolstoy's War and Peace and from the life of the master novelist himself.

One of Tolstoy's greatest gifts was his ability and willingness to change his mind based on new experiences. The horrific bloodshed he witnessed while fighting in the Crimean War in the 1850s turned him into a lifelong pacifist. In 1857, after seeing a public execution by guillotine in Paris, he became a convinced opponent of the state and its laws, believing that governments were not only brutal, but essentially served the interests of the rich and powerful. Tolstoy was on the road to becoming an anarchist.

More of Tolstoy's advice for a better life

War and Peace wisdom ...

Tolstoy's New Year Resolutions 2 - Practise empathy

Tolstoy displayed an unusual capacity to empathise by stepping into the shoes of people whose lives were vastly different from his own.

In the 1860s, he not only adopted peasant dress but began working alongside the newly emancipated labourers on his estate. For a blue-blooded count, such actions were nothing short of remarkable. Tolstoy believed you could never understand the reality of other people's lives unless you had a taste of it yourself.

More of Tolstoy's advice for a better life

The war continues ...

Meanwhile, away from the battlefield, love blooms

At a low ebb, Andrei encounters Natasha Rostov

‘There’s never been such a lovely night. Look at the moon I want to fly away, like this!’

Catch up - programmes & downloads

Catch up through the day on iPlayer or sign up for the download and receive each episode automatically.

Dwindling family fortunes

... but it's Natasha's first ball

Andrei falls for Natasha

When Andrei proposes to Natasha

Andrei's proposition to Natasha

'All I remember is that I stood there and looked at this stranger who was now everything'

But why does Andrei have to go?

Tolstoy's New Year Resolutions 3 - Master the Art of Simple Living

Following a mental breakdown in the late 1870s, Tolstoy rejected all organised religion, including the Orthodox Church he had grown up in.

He adopted a revolutionary brand of Christianity based on spiritual and material austerity. He gave up drinking, smoking, and became a vegetarian. He also inspired the creation of utopian communities of simple, self-sufficient living, where property was held in common. These "Tolstoyan" communities spread around the world and lead Gandhi to found an ashram in 1910 named the Tolstoy Farm.

When Anatole sets his sights on Natasha

Anatole's seduction begins

At the opera, Natasha is dazzled by the charmer in Tolstoy's War and Peace.

Pick your sides!

Portents of doom - the Great Comet

The Great Comet of 1811 was seen across the world and noted by painters and artists, including William Blake. Its sighting in War and Peace was thought by many to have portended Napoleon's invasion. Read more at Wikipedia

When Prince Bolkonsky dies ... and a bit of old Russia too

'Russia is lost...'

The final words of old Prince Bolkonsky in Tolstoy's War and Peace. Played by John Hurt.

The build up to 1812

The Battle of Borodino - it's France vs Russia

The casualties mount up

The crisis of 1812

When Pierre gazes down on the Borodino battlefield

Pierre gazes down at the Borodino battlefield

'The whole terrain was covered with brightly coloured troops'

When the Rostovs leave Moscow

Leaving Moscow

'Petya come back that evening and all we had to do was finish the packing.'

How the turmoil changes Natasha

Tolstoy - nihilist or romantic?

Tolstoy's New Year Resolutions 3 - Make a Difference

Tolstoy distinguished himself from his upper class peers by taking practical action to alleviate other people's suffering, most evident in his famine relief work.

After the crop failure of 1873, Tolstoy stopped writing Anna Karenina for a year to organise aid for the starving, remarking to a relative: "I cannot tear myself away from living creatures to bother about imaginary ones." His friends and family thought it was crazy for one of the world's finest novelists to put one of his works of genius on the backburner. He did it again following the famine in 1891, spending two years working in soup kitchens and fundraising. Can you imagine a bestselling author today setting aside their latest book to do humanitarian relief work for two years?

More of Tolstoy's advice for a better life

Andrei RIP

History ...

Catch up - programmes & downloads

Catch up with all the episodes on iPlayer - all the programmes will be available for 30 days - or download the episodes, free, to keep forever. The downloads will be there for 14 days.

The novel in a tweet?

When everyone looks to the next upheaval ...

‘Everyone is waiting- for the inevitable upheaval.’

The final thoughts – on war, peace, history – and the future.

After all the war, peace, life, love, death & destruction ...

You need to know something about the book - like why it's so long ...

The book follows the fortunes of three aristocratic families during Napoleon's invasion of Russia. The length of the book is partly explained by the length of time Tolstoy spent planning, writing and polishing it.

Napoleon's invasion of Russia is core to War & Peace

The earliest draft storylines found in Tolstoy’s manuscripts date back to 1856. The first part of the novel was serialised in the journal The Russian Herald in 1865, and the first edition of the complete novel published in 1868. During this time, Tolstoy’s wife Sofia was an essential helper. Some acquaintances report that she complained of copying it up to twenty-one times. Sofia preserved every scrap of manuscript of Tolstoy’s work, so that after his death, those relating to War and Peace filled twelve wooden crates.

Read > Ten Amazing Facts About War and Peace

And why you'll come to love it too

In the words of War and Peace fan David Schneider, 'It remains one of the greatest love stories ever written.

Tolstoy's death was a major media event

'Or several of the greatest love stories. You know that feeling of following your favourite characters over several seasons of a box set and wanting so desperately for them to find happiness and love? That’s how it feels to read “War And Peace”. It’s Ross and Rachel at the end of “Friends” and I must stop using sitcoms as references.

'Tolstoy’s humanity will inspire you. Witness Nikolai Rostov’s fearsome pursuit of a French soldier and his realisation that his “enemy” is just another human being like him. Take a bite out of any chunk of the novel and the juices of compassion seep out like… Actually, this is not a good simile. Tolstoy would be ashamed. Maybe I should stick to sitcom comparisons.'

Read > What You Need to Know About Tolstoy