Often called the greatest vel ever written, War and Peace is at once a historical war epic, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Noted for its mastery of realistic detail and psychological analysis, it follows the metamorphosis of five aristocratic families against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Individual stories interweave as each of Tolstoy's memorable characters seek fulfillment, fall in love, make mistakes, and become scarred by war in different ways. Out of this complex narrative emerges a profound examination of the individual's place in the historical process. Thomas Mann praised Tolstoy for his Homeric powers: To be played upon by the animal keenness of this eye, the sheer power of this creative attack, the entirely clear and true greatness...of this epic, is to find one's way home...to everything within us that is fundamental and sane.