Stuff we got wrong

War and Peace is a complicated book, and very occasionally even seasoned WAPPERS like ourselves will make the odd horrendous mistake or glaring misinterpretation.

Fortunately our wonderful listeners are significantly smarter than us, so if you’d genuinely like to understand War and Peace then this page of corrections and clarifications from our absolutely double diplomat audience is essential reading.

Thank you to everyone that has kept us honest and informed so far. We’re absolutely certain we’ll make more mistakes in the future, so if you think you can educate or correct us, please don’t hesitate to send us an email.

Book 8 – “Pronouncing help!” from Ethan

Hi Will and Steve,

I’ve hesitated sending an email because I didn’t want to sound mean telling you how Russian names are pronounced but I decided I should do so. Im getting a masters degree in Russian at university so I hope I have enough authority to help out!

Anytime you see the letter G in a name, it will always be pronounced like a G and not a J for example KaraGina instead of KaraJin. Russian doesn’t have a J sound (rather careless of them) so whenever you are confused about how to say it, you’ll always be right with G.

Congrats on 100 episodes! I’ve been a regular listener since the start of Book 2!

Stay diplomat,


Book 7 – “Homeward Bound Housekeeping” from Allex

Howdy gents,

I have a couple of items of housekeeping re: Season 7, Episode 1 “Homeward Bound,” if you’re interested. TL;DR is that Natasha is about 17 years old, Mitenka is the Rostov’s accountant, and there’s history between the Rostovs and Anna 2 which is documented in Book One.

1. Natasha is actually a year or two younger than Sonya. I believe Natasha is 17 years old at this point, since she was 13 on her name day in 1805. Not massive news, but it’s nice to know since years can go by in a sentence while days can take entire books in Tolstoy Land. 

2. Mitenka is the family accountant. You may remember him from Book One, Part One, when he’s introduced (“Mitenka, [was] a man of good family who had been brought up in the count’s house and now managed all his affairs…”). In your memory palaces, recall that this is setting up one of Anna 2’s all-time greatest wheels and deals, when she came to Countess Rostov and asked for 500 rubles to buy an army uniform for Boris, and left with 700 rubles, cash money. The Saucy Count summons Mitenka demanding the cash for his wife’s cousin (they’re all cousins, aren’t they?). “But mind,” Count Sauce says “don’t bring me such tattered and dorty notes as last time, but nice clean ones for the countess.” Mitenka hesitates to do this, tries to tell Count Sauce something but sees him becoming angry and goes to fetch the money. It was our first clue that, maybe, just MaYBe…. the Rostovs had invested too much in condiments and could “suffer” (in the way only high-born people can do) for an insufficiently diverse portfolio. This is chapter 14, page 60 in my copy, maybe it’s close to that area in yours if you want to fact-check me. 

So Anna 2 leaves that party with a fist full of frog skins and goes to- that’s right, we all remember- Pierre’s father’s unction. This is when Prince Vasili (he’s about 60) plots to steal the will that would legitimise Pierre as the son and heir of Count Bezukhov. However, thanks to an absolute masterclass in diplomacy by Anna 2 involving a shoving match and tug of war, the will is revealed and Pierre basically inherits everything. Then Anna 2 says this to Pierre:
“You know… [your father] promised me the day before yesterday not to forget Boris. But he had no time. I hope, my dear friend, you sill carry out your father’s wish.”
(Chapter 21, page 90ish.)

Now I can’t find any references to back this little bit up, but I think it’s logical to conclude that Anna 2 did receive some money from Pierre, given that he’s such a nice guy and with many many estates, forests, Smurfs, and so so many rubles to give the Free Masons.

SO let’s bring it all back to “Homeward Bound.” Nikolai is summoned home to deal with the dwindling Rostov coffers, where he lashes out at Mitenka, the accountant, who’s been trying to make the Saucy Count stick to a budget for at least the past 4 years. All the parties, toilets, jars of mayonnaise, and extorted dowries have added up so high that now Anna 2- who was *just* begging for jobs and army clothes for Borris only a few years ago- is lending money to the Rostovs. A huge heap of it, too, that she can probably make good on because she has Pierre to back it up, thanks to her advocacy at his father’s deathbed. Also Borris has been a prig to Nicky since they joined the army. So yeah, Nicky’s ego has probably taken a bit of a beating here. 

Does all that justify threatening to “hack the dog the pieces?” No, I’d say not.
Unless he’s referring to Mitenka as a dog because Mitenka’s actually an ancient werewolf. Just like Denisov, except timid. Might make a good drawing, that– werewolf accountant.

I don’t actually know if that helps the situation, morally, but I do know that Tolstoy never says Mitenka is NOT a werewolf, so who are we to say otherwise? This is what I love about Tolstoy, his characters are so complex.