This was a good biography of one of the more complicated figures in Russian literature: Leo Tolstoy. It supplies a great deal of background for 19th century Russia -- particularly the tension between the autocratic regime of the tsars and the peasants. Tolstoy's family life is richly described in context with both his literary and religious/philosophical works. It was interesting to see how his personal views and actions in the public square affected his art. There is a copious amount of footnotes for those with interest in primary sources. If you like Russian literature or Tolstoy at all this is worth reading.