In this text, essayist George R. Clay offers a fresh perspective and analysis of one of the world's greatest vels. By examining Tolstoy's techniques and analysing the structure of War and Peace , Clay leads the reader to its meaning, deriving the what from the how. How does Tolstoy universalise the particular without losing particularity? How does he stimulate empathy; direct our curiosity; turn telling into showing; hold his vel together so that, despite its seemingly arbitrary spread, it neither flies apart r loses direction? Beginning with Tolstoy's strategies, devices, structural elements, Clay moves beyond previous approaches and reveals the vel's larger thematic concerns, showing how all the pieces fit into an overall pattern which he calls the phoenix design.