War and Peace

War and Peace

by

Leo Tolstoy

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Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov was a historical figure whom Tolstoy adapts for the novel. During the war of 1805, he is the commander in chief of the Russians fighting in Austria. He is noted (and vilified by some) for resisting the younger generals’ insistence on offensive war against Napoleon. Resigned to the younger generation’s victory and to the inevitability of fate, he tends to fall asleep at key moments. Despite Emperor Alexander’s personal dislike of Kutuzov, he is appointed commander in chief of the Russian army in the summer of 1812, replacing Barclay de Tolly. Though he is much criticized after the War of 1812 for abandoning Moscow and not destroying the retreating French army, he is unfailingly faithful to his goal of simply defeating the French and driving them out of Russia, dying not long after he achieves this. He has a deep, unflagging faith in the Russian people, and he doesn’t care about the broader picture of Europe’s fate.

General Kutuzov Quotes in War and Peace

The War and Peace quotes below are all either spoken by General Kutuzov or refer to General Kutuzov. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of War and Peace published in 2008.
Volume 4, Part 4: Chapters 4–9 Quotes

For Russian historians— strange and terrible to say— Napoleon, that most insignificant instrument of history, who never and nowhere, even in exile, displayed any human dignity— Napoleon is the object of admiration and enthusiasm; he is grand. While Kutuzov, a man who, from the beginning to the end of his activity in 1812, from Borodino to Vilno, while always being true to himself in all his acts and words, shows an example uncommon in history of self-denial and awareness in the present of the future significance of the event— Kutuzov seems to them something indefinite and pathetic, and when they speak of Kutuzov and the year twelve, it is as if they are always slightly embarrassed.

Related Characters: Napoleon Bonaparte, General Kutuzov
Page Number: 1085
Explanation and Analysis:
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General Kutuzov Character Timeline in War and Peace

The timeline below shows where the character General Kutuzov appears in War and Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 1–4
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Anna Pavlovna asks Prince Andrei Bolkonsky about his war enlistment. Bolkonsky explains that General Kutuzov wanted him as an adjutant, and that Lise will stay with his family in the... (full context)
...do as she asks. However, he can’t promise her that he’ll recommend Boris as General Kutuzov’s adjutant—all the mothers in Russia are pushing for that. (full context)
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 23–25
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...giving birth. His father agrees and also gives Prince Andrei a letter to his friend, Kutuzov, urging his son’s quick promotion. (full context)
Volume 1, Part 2: Chapters 1–3
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...near the fortress of Braunau, Austria, creating a burden for local villagers. Commander in chief Kutuzov has his headquarters here. On the 11th, an infantry regiment halts outside of town, awaiting... (full context)
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...the commander in chief wants to see the soldiers in marching conditions, not parade uniform. Kutuzov has been ordered to march the regiment to a position he considers to be ill-advised,... (full context)
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Commander in chief Kutuzov and an Austrian general arrive in an elegant Viennese coach. Kutuzov walks among the troops,... (full context)
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Back from the review, Kutuzov and the Austrian general study a map. There are rumors that the Austrian army lost... (full context)
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Before Prince Andrei can leave headquarters, a bandaged Austrian general hurriedly enters in search of Kutuzov. The flustered newcomer says in a trembling voice, “You are looking at the unfortunate [General]... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 2: Chapters 4–8
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Kutuzov’s regiment falls back toward Vienna, destroying bridges as they go. By October 23rd, a warm,... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 2: Chapters 9–12
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The Russians are demoralized and exhausted. Under Kutuzov, they retreat down the Danube, pursued by the French, uncertain about their allies, and short... (full context)
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Finally, on October 30th, Kutuzov’s men gain a victory: they crush Mortier’s division of the French army on the Danube’s... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 2: Chapters 13–20
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...another officer, who know no more than he does. In a nearby house, he finds Kutuzov, Prince Bagration, and an Austrian general named Weyrother. Even here, things are confused, but Andrei... (full context)
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Kutuzov sends Bagration’s vanguard over the hills to try to forestall the French on the road... (full context)
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Fifteen miles away in Schönbrunn, Bonaparte receives word of the supposed truce and Kutuzov’s suggested conditions of surrender. He realizes Kutuzov is deceiving him and writes a furious letter... (full context)
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Prince Andrei persuades Kutuzov to let him join Bagration’s detachment. He surveys the condition of Bagration’s bedraggled troops, deciding... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 2: Chapter 21
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...the Russian winter, wondering why he ever came here. The next day, Bagration’s detachment joins Kutuzov’s army. (full context)
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 6–9
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...from Boris, telling him about the note and money from his family. At the time, Kutuzov’s army is camped near Olmütz. The Pavlogradsky guards are camped about 10 miles away and... (full context)
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...stretch across an enormous field in three impeccable lines. Standing with the front ranks of Kutuzov’s army, Rostov feels proud as Emperor Alexander rides up to them. Everyone roars “Hurrah!” with... (full context)
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...the younger generals decided that the allies should go on the offensive against Bonaparte (though Kutuzov disagrees). The younger generals are so euphoric (encouraged in part by the emperors’ presence) that... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 10–13
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...battle are like the minutely tuned motions of a mechanical clock. Prince Andrei senses that Kutuzov is upset about what he’s been told at headquarters, so he asks Dolgorukov, who’s been... (full context)
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...invited. Weyrother, chief of staff of the Austrian army, eagerly shows his battle plan while Kutuzov sits by sulkily. Prince Andrei enters the room about seven o’clock to tell Kutuzov that... (full context)
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...attack, he would have done so already. Andrei starts to voice an objection himself, whereupon Kutuzov suddenly wakes up, tells them all that the plan is set, and that it’s more... (full context)
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...the possibility of his own imminent death. He also imagines himself stating his opinions to Kutuzov and Weyrother and single-handedly leading a division to victory, then going on to replace Kutuzov... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 14–19
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At eight o’clock, Kutuzov rides to Pratz, intending to lead the regiment himself. Prince Andrei is with him, feeling... (full context)
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The emperors and their suite approach. Kutuzov, who’d just been yawning, jerks to attention. The Emperor wonders why Kutuzov hasn’t yet moved... (full context)
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Kutuzov and his adjutants ride down the hill behind the carabineers. As the fog clears below,... (full context)
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...reluctant to get started. To delay things, he tells Dolgorukov to send a messenger to Kutuzov to ask what they should do. With six miles’ distance between the army’s flanks, Bagration... (full context)
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...various uniforms run in all directions, and he can’t spot any superior officers, much less Kutuzov or the sovereign. Even when he sees French troops standing on the Pratzen heights, where... (full context)
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When he reaches the village of Hostieradek, Rostov still can’t find either the emperor or Kutuzov, but the Russians—calmer here—all agree that the battle has been lost. Riding a couple miles... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 1: Chapters 1–6
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...keep silent about bad news. Eventually, opinions began to circulate regarding Austrian treachery, poor provisioning, Kutuzov’s failings, and the youthful emperor’s inexperience. (full context)
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...a convenient figurehead for the Russian troops in general, as well as a foil for Kutuzov. Heroic stories circulate about other soldiers and officers. Nobody talks about Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, though—only... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 1: Chapters 7–9
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...to communicate with them. A week after the initial news, they receive a letter from Kutuzov. He reports having seen Andrei fall on the battlefield with the standard in hand, but... (full context)
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When Prince Nikolai receives Kutuzov’s news, he doesn’t tell anyone at first. When Princess Marya reports for her lessons the... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 8–11
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...taking an army post in Moldavia. While in Petersburg, Prince Andrei meets his old general, Kutuzov, who’s been appointed commander in chief in Moldavia. Prince Andrei secures an army appointment in... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 6–12
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...into an argument about who should replace him as commander in chief. When somebody suggests Kutuzov, Vassily objects, saying Kutuzov is old and blind. Nevertheless, a couple of weeks later, Kutuzov... (full context)
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...When he praises the appointment, a distinguished gentleman reminds Vassily of his former position that Kutuzov is blind, but Vassily brushes this off with a delicate cough. In fact, he can’t... (full context)
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...what he’s learned—that Platov’s corps is on its way to join the main army, and Kutuzov is now commander in chief. It turns out that this prisoner is Lavrushka, Denisov’s serf.... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 15–18
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After Kutuzov takes command of the armies, he orders Prince Andrei to headquarters. While Prince Andrei waits... (full context)
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Kutuzov, heavier than before and breathing hard, rides into the yard, attended by a crowd of... (full context)
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Prince Andrei is invited to stay while Kutuzov signs some papers. In the meantime, Kutuzov listens patiently to the general who’s speaking to... (full context)
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Before Andrei goes, Kutuzov talks with him about criticisms he sustained for his actions in the Turkish war, concluding... (full context)
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When Prince Andrei returns to his regiment, he feels calmer. He believes that Kutuzov understands that there’s something more powerful than his own will— “the inevitable course of events.”... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 19–23
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Though historians later claim that Kutuzov sought the best possible battle position at Borodino, the truth is that he might have... (full context)
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...miles, he finally sees a doctor he knows, who advises him to speak directly to Kutuzov if he hopes to join the battle. The doctor is harried because he anticipates 20,000... (full context)
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...crowd stops to hold a prayer service. Pierre watches the solemn, devout faces with interest. Kutuzov, Bennigsen, and their suite join the service. When it’s over, Kutuzov heavily bows and kisses... (full context)
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...attached. Boris senses that, no matter the battle’s outcome, Bennigsen will emerge looking better than Kutuzov and rising to prominence as a result. (full context)
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Kutuzov notices the crowd surrounding Pierre and wants to see him. On his way, Pierre spots... (full context)
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...put there in order to ambush the advancing French. Bennigsen moves the troops without consulting Kutuzov. (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 30–35
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...long ago. Pierre hurriedly rides to the hill from which he’d overlooked the battlefield yesterday; Kutuzov and his men are gathered there. Pierre is struck by the sunlit beauty of the... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Kutuzov receives reports from his subordinates, agreeing or disagreeing with what’s suggested. However, he knows that... (full context)
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...the afternoon, the French have stopped attacking. The day’s tension has been too much for Kutuzov, and he occasionally dozes off. Wolzogen, the imperial adjutant, approaches Kutuzov while he’s eating his... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 1–4
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...26th, the Russian army is convinced that they’ve won the battle of Borodino. That’s why Kutuzov begins making plans for renewed battle the following day. But as reports come in of... (full context)
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...retreating from Borodino, the Russians are camped at Fili. After surveying the position, Ermolov tells Kutuzov it’s impossible to fight from here. Beside a road on Poklonnaya Hill, Kutuzov, a crowd... (full context)
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...of the family huddles in the kitchen, but Malasha, the six-year-old granddaughter, gets to stay; Kutuzov gives her a lump of sugar. Malasha watches as generals crowd around the table with... (full context)
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Bennigsen starts the discussion—can “Russia’s sacred and ancient capital” be abandoned? Kutuzov interjects that this is a meaningless question. The real question is whether to accept battle—thereby... (full context)
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Little Malasha doesn’t understand this discussion. Instead, she observes the anger between Kutuzov (whom she thinks of as “Grandpa”) and Bennigsen (whom she calls “Long-skirts”). She takes “Grandpa’s”... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 18–22
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On the night of September 1st, Kutuzov orders the army to retreat through Moscow. By mid-morning the next day, most have passed... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 23–26
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...of September 1st, Count Rastopchin is upset. He wasn’t invited to the war council, and Kutuzov ignored his suggestions about defending the capital. Demoralized, he returns to Moscow. Just as he’s... (full context)
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...has forgotten the events in Moscow and is planning how he’s going to yell at Kutuzov for abandoning the capital. Suddenly a robed madman, released from the madhouse, starts running after... (full context)
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Rastopchin’s carriage gallops up to Kutuzov at the Yauzsky bridge. Rastopchin accuses Kutuzov of betrayal; he’d told Rastopchin that he would... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 1: Chapters 1–3
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Anna Pavlovna is right. The next day, the Emperor’s birthday, Kutuzov sends a report of victory at Borodino. For the rest of that day, Petersburg is... (full context)
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The next day, news arrives of the surrender of Moscow to the French. Now Kutuzov is regarded as a traitor. Even Prince Vassily, grieving his daughter Hélène, now says that... (full context)
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Nine days after Moscow was abandoned, Kutuzov sends a messenger to Petersburg, Michaud (a Frenchman who’s “Russian in heart”), with the official... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 2: Chapters 1–3
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...considered as a whole in retrospect. At first, the army marched toward Nizhni Novgorod; then Kutuzov learned that it would be difficult to transport provisions across the river Oka once winter... (full context)
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Kutuzov isn’t a genius, but he understands the significance of events better than most. He already... (full context)
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On October 2nd, after the battle of Tarutino, the Emperor writes to Kutuzov. He observes that Kutuzov hasn’t gone on the offensive since Moscow was taken, and in... (full context)
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By the time Kutuzov receives this letter, the Russians have already initiated battle against the French. Earlier that day,... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 2: Chapters 4–7
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The attack is set for October 5th. Toll draws up the disposition and Kutuzov signs off on it. Toll reads it to Ermolov so that Ermolov can begin carrying... (full context)
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Kutuzov’s orderly is sent to Ermolov with copies of the disposition, but he can’t find Ermolov... (full context)
Kutuzov rises early the next morning. He dreads leading a battle of which he doesn’t approve.... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Kutuzov holds his men back, believing that nothing good will come from this chaos. Finally, at... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 2: Chapters 8–14
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...path—staying put in Moscow, allowing his troops to loot, and failing to initiate battle with Kutuzov. If Napoleon’s goal had been to destroy his own army, he couldn’t have chosen a... (full context)
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As soon as he arrives in Moscow, Napoleon orders Murat to find Kutuzov, fortifies the Kremlin, and draws up a plan for his Russia campaign. He sends diplomats... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 2: Chapters 15–19
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In early October, Napoleon sends Kutuzov another peace offer. The letter is addressed from Moscow, even though Napoleon is ahead of... (full context)
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...full force. Refusing to act on his own orders, Dokhturov sends an officer galloping to Kutuzov’s headquarters. (full context)
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Kutuzov sleeps poorly that night. He’s lying awake thinking about the battle of Tarutino and wishing... (full context)
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As Kutuzov is lying in bed thinking about all this, Toll, another general, and Bolkhovitinov (Dokhturov’s messenger)... (full context)
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From now on, Kutuzov leads his army on retreat, while Napoleon’s army retreats in the opposite direction. The army... (full context)
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...army moves too quickly and inexorably toward its goal to disintegrate. All the generals except Kutuzov want to go on the offensive and demolish the French. Kutuzov opposes this with all... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 3: Chapters 16–19
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...people feel dissatisfied. Why didn’t the Russians simply destroy the weak, demoralized French? History blames Kutuzov’s and other generals’ failure to execute certain maneuvers.  In reality, there was no need to... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 4: Chapters 4–9
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...can no longer keep up with the fleeing French. Despite this, many generals grumble over Kutuzov’s failure to capture Napoleon. For his part, Kutuzov does his best to subtly diminish the... (full context)
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Kutuzov seldom talked about himself. He enjoyed novels, wrote letters to his daughters, and joked around... (full context)
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Kutuzov’s goal was simply to defeat the French and drive them out of Russia in order... (full context)
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In November, during the Krasnoe battles,  Kutuzov is called upon to offer remarks. After thanking the soldiers for their service, his voice... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 4: Chapters 10–11
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...Russian commanders are even more intent on pursuing the French and even more disdainful of Kutuzov. Kutuzov receives word that the Emperor is unhappy with him and will be visiting any... (full context)
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On November 29th, Kutuzov rides into Vilno, a city he’d previously governed, and immediately transitions into quiet habits, taking... (full context)
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Besides its significance to Russians, the War of 1812 also has a major European significance. Kutuzov is unable to understand this significance—the balance of powers in Europe and Napoleon’s role in... (full context)