In Hadji Murat, Tolstoy recounts the extraordinary meeting of two polarized culturesthe refined, Europeanized court of the Russian tsar and the fierce Muslim chieftains of the Chechen hills. This brilliant, culturally resonant fiction was written towards the end of Tolstoy’s life, but the conflict it describes has obvious, ironic parallels with current affairs today. It is 1852, and Hadji Murat, one of the most feared mountain chiefs, is the scourge of the Russian army. When he comes to surrender, the Russians are delighted. Or have they naively welcomed a double-agent into their midst? With its sardonic portraitsfrom the inscrutable Hadji Murat to the fat and bumbling tsarTolstoy’s story is an astute and witty commentary on the nature of political relations and states at war. Leo Tolstoy is one of the world’s greatest writers. Best known for his brilliantly crafted epic novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, he used his works to address the problems of Russian society, politics, and traditions.