My Reading Life by Pat Conroy:
Let me now add my own voice to the hallelujah chorus of novelists who have found themselves enraptured by the immensity and luminosity of War and Peace and cast my own vote that it is the finest novel ever written. I can think of no other novelist who could take the entire known world as his subject matter and not be overwhelmed by the task at hand. But Count Leo Tolstoy writes with such assuredness and unshowy mastery that his powers can sometimes strike you as almost godlike as he looks over the world of the Napoleonic Wars with the calmness and certainty of a master surveying a chessboard with a hundred thousand pieces. Tolstoy overwhelms and humbles and delights me. He is massively interested in everything he sees around him. Nothing escapes his attention, and there does not seem to be a single subject that bores him. His subject is all the world and all the people and creatures who populate it and everything in between. Once you plunge into the inexhaustible depths of War and Peace, Count Tolstoy will take you prisoner for more than thirteen hundred pages. He will exhaust you with the deadly movement of troops the length and breadth of Europe; dance with you at soirees where you meet some of the most fascinating people in literature; make you happy to be young, fearful to be old, eager for battle, terrified of battle, anxious to fall in love, betrayed by the deepest soundings of love; place you in the middle of conversations with serfs and in the company of tsars—Tolstoy will do everything a novelist can do with all the magnamity and confidence one possesses when one if born to be the greatest novelist who ever lived.