On December 6, 1970, more that 170 people from all walks of life came together to read from one of the great novels of all time, over the airwaves of Pacifica station WBAI 99.5 FM. Nearly five days later, the legendary actor Morris Carnovsky read the famous last words to Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, ending what was at the time the longest continuous broadcast in radio history. One of the more ambitious radio broadcasts ever undertaken, with one of the largest casts, listeners struggled to stay awake so as not to miss a single sentence, and emptied New York bookstore shelves in pursuit of a companion novel for this historic reading.
For our 2005 Archives fund drive, Pacifica Radio Archives revisits this amazing record-setting reading with a two-hour audio documentary about the 1970 War and Peace broadcast, highlighting the voices of Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft, Mel Brooks, Julius Lester, Abbie Hoffman, William F. Buckley, Buck Henry, and Carolyn Goodman, among others. Additionally, a diverse group of world citizens were invited to re-record passages from the book to bring attention to the universality of the novel and add relevance to the continuing struggle the world finds itself in today. 2005 readers include Helen Thomas, Cindy Sheehan, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Arianna Huffington, Robert Fisk, Mike Farrell, Ed Asner, Shirley Knight, Count Nikolai Tolstoy (senior living member of Tolstoy family), and many others.