The five wealthy families followed are the Bezukhovs, Bolkonskys, Rostovs, Kuragins and the Drubetskoys in the early 19th century especially during the time when Napoleon invaded Russia. Like with Tolstoy's other novels, it also tells about the different social problems in Russian high society like the fathering of illegitimate children of wealthy Russians, financial ruin of some families due to incompetence, their vanity despite the poverty which surrounds them and so on. The lives of the main characters from the different families are intertwined in the novel with friendships and conflicting interests.
War and Peace is also a historical novel. Napoleon himself is one of its main characters and a huge part of the book was about him. It's very impressive that Tolstoy was able to depict him very accurately in this novel. Besides him, Tolstoy was also very accurate about his descriptions of the historical events during that time like the Battle of Borodino, Napoleon's invasion of Moscow and others.