Tuesday, February 2, 2021

by Isaac Hamlet, Press-Citizen

Believe it or not, Anna Barker planned to read "War and Peace" months before the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

Throughout 2020, Barker, a professor of Russian literature at the University of Iowa, led three other readings to help guide those stuck at home through the ongoing global pandemic. Some of her former students following along with the "Paradise Lost" reading joked she needed to start a new project: "1812 days of 'War and Peace.' "

Although Barker decided to make the event a mere 100 days of "War and Peace," she not only agreed with those students but viewed the book as vital reading in these times.

"We have to read this book because it gives us a way out," Barker recently told the Press-Citizen. "It's not just about being locked up and feeling this is the end of the world; it's saying human beings are foolish and make mistakes. This has happened before and this can happen again, but we can learn from it."