In a famous chapter of War and Peace, Tolstoy takes aim at the "great men" theory of history. Why did France invade Russia, his narrator asks? "The historians tell us with naïve assurance that its causes were … the ambition of Napoleon, the firmness of [Czar] Alexander, the mistakes of the diplomatists, and so on." But in reality, it was the "millions of men in whose hands lay the real power"—the "soldiers who fired, or transported provisions and guns"—who let "these weak individuals" carry out their will. A king, Tolstoy concludes, "is history's slave."
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