The Black Count
Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo (Pulitzer Prize for Biography)
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY • ONE OF ESQUIRE’S BEST BIOGRAPHIES OF ALL TIME
General Alex Dumas is a man almost unknown today, yet his story is strikingly familiar—because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used his larger-than-life feats as inspiration for such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
But, hidden behind General Dumas's swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: he was the son of a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time. Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas made his way to Paris, where he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution—until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.
The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. TIME magazine called The Black Count "one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that sheds light on the historical moment that made it possible." But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.
Alex Dumas, an extraordinary man whose sensational life had been largely lost to history solely because of his race, takes the spotlight in this dynamic tale. Thanks to Reiss's excellent research, combined with the passionate memorial his son, Alexandre Dumas, consistently built in his own novels and memoir, Dumas's life has been brought back to light. Father to the well-known novelist and clear inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as the adventurous spirit of The Three Musketeers and other stories, Dumas (1762 1806) rose through the ranks of the French army from a lowly private in the dragoons to become a respected general who marched into Egypt at Napoleon's side. (The rivalry and juxtaposition between these two leaders proves fascinating.) Born in what is now Haiti to a French nobleman father and a slave mother, the biracial Dumas chanced to come of age during the French Revolution, a brief period of equality in the French empire; he was thus granted numerous opportunities that the son of a slave 20 years before him (or even 20 years later) would not have enjoyed. Reiss capitalizes on his subject's charged personality as well as the revolutionary times in which he lived to create an exciting narrative.
What a great book from Tom Reiss! The story of Gen. Alex Dumas is finally brought to life after being shuttered away for so long and forgotten.
Reiss obviously did so much research not only into Dumas life and circumstances, but to the 18th century society in which Dumas thrived. A life and story such as this shouldn't be forgotten.
Reiss' writing style is very conversational educating the reader as to the beliefs, norms and politics of the day so one has a clear understanding of how and why Dumas life is so enthralling.
Dumas was an 18th century action hero, and a somewhat of an unconventional one. I can't see how this won't be made into a movie! It has everything; a strong leading man, love, betrayal and war. In fact it could be a story written by the General's son, the author Alexandre Dumas.
A True-life Dumas Adventure Story!
After I finished “The Count of Monte Cristo” last year, the Books app recommended this biography of the author’s father — a major inspiration for Edmond Dantes — and I could not put it down. The author spins this tale as deftly as Dumas, weaving the elder Dumas’s multiple battles with enemies on the field and with racism, the latter of which made his insights into the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte, for me, true revelations. I can’t recommend this enough for fans of Dumas or anyone who wants to meet one of history’s most fascinating, and unsung, characters.
A great book about an inspirational hero scrubbed from history. The obstacles he faces in the late 1700s to early 1800s are so similar to Blacks who have risen to high achievement in today's time. He was able to take advantage of opportunities so few like him had in order to achieve remarkable feats by anyone's standards. As with the familiarity of the obstacles he faced in his rise to prominence, his later demise and whitewashing of his achievements are unfortunately familiar as well.
The book also cover some Haitian and French history to set the environment for the time period.