WINNER OF THE 2013 PULITZER PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
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 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.
The black count
In general, a wonderfully readable account of post revolutionary France and its acceptance of racial equality, however temporary. Specifically, a richly detailed account of an honorable and proud man caught up in events that overturn his life with unethical beaurocracy. A carefully researched window into a time period most often romanticized. That his son survived and thrived, using the memories of his father to immortalize him, assuage the family honor, and in addition, make a great name for himself was a coup d'état.