We acknowledge Leonid Tolstoy as one of the world's greatest writers, principally on the reputations of War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Though we reflexively honor them, these works are likely more admired than read, due to their length.
Have you ever heard of his 150-page novella Hadji Murad, published posthumously? Probably not. In this character study of a chieftain of the Caucasus in Russia's war on Chechens in the 1850's, we see all of Tolstoy's gifts on display: his evocation of place, his passion for historical accuracy, and his fascination with an individual's humanity and access to the divine. We see Hadji Murad through the eyes of his soldiers, his enemies, and his admirers, as well as through Tolstoy's narration, and we come to appreciate a fully-drawn character as human as we are.
This book has relevance for our world today, where Chechen Muslims battle Russian soldiers. Tolstoy respects Murad's devotion to Islam, contrasting it with the dissipation and debauchery of the Russians with whom he attempts to align himself in his power struggle with a rival chieftain.
Murad carries his reputation as an honorable and straightforward warrior to his grave, arousing shame in those who would not treat him fairly while he lived.