The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
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The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  5,124 ratings  ·  955 reviews
Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo – a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics asThe Count of Monte CristoandThe Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist ofThe Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because...more
Hardcover, 414 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Crown (first published January 1st 2012)
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 24, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Suzanne
I'm sure a lot of people are going to think the same thing reading this biography: "How in the world did I not know about this man?" Everyone knows Alexandre Dumas, père--or at least knows his The Three Musketeers. I haven't read his books, but I've watched several adaptations and homages to them, everything from toons to allusions on Star Trek. I knew that this 19th century author was both French and black--yet nevertheless celebrated even in his lifetime. I knew of his son, who wrote the play...more
Aubrey
4.5/5

Fascinating person, exciting time period, amazingly well researched writing. The prose could use some work, but hey, this is the uncorrected proof. Taking that into account, the work done so far is simply extraordinary.

I will admit it, I had no idea that the famous author Alexandre Dumas' father was so. Well. Larger than life, really. And the time period that he lived in that enabled him to reach such heights was almost as unbelievable. Before reading this, the extent of my knowledge regard...more
'Aussie Rick'
This new book on the life of General Alexandre Dumas; father of the French author; Alexandre Dumas, père (The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers), offers the reader an enjoyable account of this famous but apparently forgotten hero.

In The Black Count we get a good look at the life and career of a French Revolutionary soldier and officer, and later Napoleonic General, who served in Italy during the Revolutionary Wars and later in Egypt under Napoleon.

However this is not just a military...more
Laura
Location 1139:
“Man is born free but is everywhere in chains,” wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau in The Social Contract in 1762.

Location 1160:
Slavery was one thing for the empire, however, and another thing entirely within France itself.

Location 1236:
Everything is free in a Kingdom where liberty is seated at the foot of the throne, where the least subject finds in the heart of his king the feelings of a father.… No one is [a] slave in France.”

Location 1240:
The problem was not slaves in France. The prob...more
Hana

"To remember a person is the most important thing in the novels of Alexandre Dumas. The worst sin anyone can commit is to forget."

In this dramatic and often poignant book Tom Reiss sets out to reconstruct the life of a long forgotten hero, the father of French author Alexandre Dumas and a man of extraordinary skill, courage and integrity.

At its heart, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo tells the story of Alex Dumas, the mulatto son of a French noble...more
Anna  Matsuyama
My copy: ibsn The Black Count  Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss9780099575139

An interesting account of the French Revolution and General Dumas life.

My main complaint is that except for few maps there are no images, photographies or illustrations. I would've loved if the book had a picture of the sculpture of 3 Dumas (Dumas the general, Dumas the novelist and Dumas the playwright) by Alfred de Moncel. (In 1942 the Nazi melted it along with hundreds other French statues.)

The author was able to find & read letters by Dumas and I would have...more
Claire McAlpine
A fascinating account of the life of General Alex Dumas, plucked from slavery (having been pawned by his own father (a French Marquis) in Saint Domingue [Haiti]) to be given a privileged education in Paris, becoming a revered General, part of the Revolution, a humanist, only to lose favour with Bonaparte who failed to rescue the General from imprisonment following a shipwreck in Italian waters and who damaged his prospects further by unravelling much of the progress that had been made for men of...more
Suzanne
Who hasn’t been enthralled with the swashbuckling stories penned by French author, Alexandre Dumas? From The Count of Monte Cristo to The Three Musketeers, the man was a genius at storytelling. They seem too good to be true, there was actually some truth to his writing. Mr. Dumas used his father, who died when the author was just a boy, as the role model for the heroes of his wonderful books.

In The Black Count, Reiss relates a tale of a man born to a black slave and a nobleman; and his rise thro...more
Tony
Alex Dumas, the subject of this biography, lead a very interesting life. Unfortunately, it would seem that there is not enough information on Dumas to fill a book. So, Reiss goes into considerable detail on the times he is describing--the French Revolution, Civil Rights in ancien regime France, etc. While many of these topics are also quite interesting, much narrative momentum is lost by the regular shifts from Dumas to these various topics and back again.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
What rogues Alexandre Dumas' grandfather and great-uncles were!
Regina Lindsey
"I haven't forgotten any of the memories that you told me to keep. From the time I could think, your memory has lived in me like a sacred lamp, illuminating everything and everyone you every touched, even though death has taken it away!" At the age of four, Alexander Dumas lost his father, General Alex Dumas. Like many young children, the author Dumas, carries with him throughout his life, an idyllic image of his father. However, in this instance the idealism is supported by history, the esteem...more
Alex
Jul 29, 2014 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Alexandre Dumas' dad was a Revolutionary War hero general who once held a bridge by himself against a whole squad of bad guys with a friggin' sword and took the Alps basically singlehanded and then languished as a POW for years and died a pauper and was written out of history because Napoleon is an asshole, and also he was a black guy, and this is all pretty awesome.

Terrific book, handling not only Dumas' actual story but a fair amount of history along the way, from the French Revolution to the...more
Nick
Not only a great story about an incredible yet almost forgotten historical figure, but also a great exploration of how within one generation blacks in the French empire went from slaves, to revolutionary equals, to a marginalized and horribly mistreated minority.
Mike
This is a very well written and superbly researched biography and historical account of the life of Alexandre Dumas. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned much about French history that I didn't know previously.
Miss GP
I purchased The Black Count several months ago based on multiple recommendations, but I’d resisted actually digging into it because I’m generally not a fan of biographies. Thank heavens for my group's reading challenge, which forced me to dig it out. Holy cow! I had no idea what an interesting book this would end up being - certainly one of my favorites of the year.

I think part of my love for it is that it’s not simply a biography; there’s quite a lot of history here as well. The author covers...more
jo mo
Sep 07, 2012 jo mo marked it as to-read
Shelves: reviews, must-read
thomas alexandre, no last name (slaves had none) was born in 1762 in saint-domingue, modern-day haiti, the son of the marquis de la pailleterie, a (..) nobleman, and his slave césette. when alexandre was 8, his father returned to france and sold him to a new owner.

however, the marquis later showed some belated paternal feelings, repurchased his son and had him brought to france, where young alexandre received the education of a french gentleman. yet relations were not smooth between father and s...more
Judy
Oct 18, 2012 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dumas fans, Francophiles, history buffs
Tom Reiss delves into rarely seen documents regarding the lives of all 3 Alexandre Dumases. Three, you say? Yes. Of course, we all know the novelist, Alexandre Dumas, but his father and his son also carried the name. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo is the story of General Alexandre Dumas, the father of the novelist, and how it influenced Dumas's writings particularly The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

Three things I loved:

1) The b...more
Louise
I was attracted to this book by the author whose work "The Orientalist" was outstanding. Not only was the writing good, Tom Reiss showed that he had an eye for content. His subject, Kuban Said, had a fascinating and neglected story. I never read Dumas and never knew of his father, but I trusted Reiss would have something interesting in store... and he did!

The saga of Dumas (nee Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie) is a not only that of his extraordinary life, but also is the story of race in...more
TheFountainPenDiva
OMG! This incredible book depicts the life of the man who was the inspiration for the Count of Monte Cristo. It is the story of General Alexandre Dumas (father of the famous author), born mixed-race of noble blood, sold into slavery by his father then subsequently freed by the same man, then raised in luxury and who later became one of the great heroes of the French Revolution, only to be betrayed by the very country he fought so valiantly for. The Black Count reads less like a boring history bo...more
Rebecca Huston
This is the sort of book that I love to read. Full of history and surprises, I had never given any thought to race in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries before. But in this tale of a soldier-aristocrat in revolutionary and Napoleonic France, race certainly matters in the life of Alex Dumas, a man who was born in what is now Haiti as the son of an aristocrat and an African-American woman. There are battles, ups and downs and his very remarkable son. Alexandre Dumas. All kinds of h...more
Richard
Dec 05, 2012 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Richard by: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/books/review/the-black-count-by-tom-reiss.html
The Black Count is an incredible history book.

Its subject is someone whose mere existence is fundamentally fascinating, and with engaging breadth and depth.

The précis can be grasped from the blurb, so I won’t bore you with that.

This staggeringly interesting yet hitherto under-appreciated man is obviously the nominal focus of the story, but that focus drifts quite widely. The racial politics of the era and of revolutionary France is a central theme, but the major villain, Napoleon, really only sh...more
David
One of Napoleon's greatest generals was the son of a French aristocrat planter from Haiti and his black slave? His father sold him into slavery to buy passage back to France, and then re-liberated him? He was the toast of the egalitarian Revolutionary spirit and then abandoned in an Italian prison after leading French troops to gloriy in their conquest of Egypt? Amazing stuff and a totally unknown story to me. Oh yeah, he was renowned as both an unequalled physically overpowering athletic fencer...more
Kathleen
This book is terrific! It makes boring history (The French Revolution? I'm pretty sure I slept through that in two different classes) awesome. By following the life of Alexandre Dumas, the father of Alexandre Dumas, and promising that this was the man who inspired some of that author's greatest literature, the book feels more relevant. Add to that the fact that this Dumas' life did not begin in France, but rather as the son of a slave in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) and one quickly realizes that this...more
Ron
Words fail to describe the utter brilliance of this book. Here is a review that appeared in the Literary Review:" Did Napoleon, morally contemptible as he was, effectively kill the general? Dumas's son, a yet more famous Alexandre, certainly believed so and Reiss presents a plausible case for Edmond Dantès, Monte Cristo's wronged hero, as an avatar of the lost father, some of whose prodigious strength and generosity of spirit the novelist inherited. Clearly Dumas cherished memories of the relati...more
Gordon
Alexandre Dumas, author of the Count of Monte Cristo and assorted other 19th century best-sellers, was the son of a half-white / half-black former Haitian slave, named Alex Dumas. Alexandre's father's father was a French count, a ne'er-do-well who went to Haiti to sponge off of his sugar plantation-owning brother. Eventually the French count returned to France, some years before the French Revolution, paying for his passage by selling the black mother of his children and his children themselves...more
Susan
Loved this one. Extremely well researched and yet informally written. Illuminates the French Revolution, sugar planting on Haiti, race in 18th century France, Napoleon's exhibition to Egypt, the history of Malta and much more.

Just finished The Black Count. About the father of Alexander Dumas who was born in Haiti, the son of a French aristocrat and a black woman. Who became a very successful general in the army, hated by Napoleon, in part because Dumas was a fine figure of a man who towered over...more
Richard
The Black Count by Tom Reiss

The story of Alex Dumas, father of the author of “The Count of Monte Cristo” reads at its outset like something the son could have written. A biracial child born in the French Sugar Islands, of a Cajun woman and a claimant to a Marquis’ title living incognito, he was briefly a slave, later a young blade in aristocratic Paris. A companion of the “Black Mozart” he was a man of legendary strength, horsemanship, skill with a sword, beneficiary of a new toleration for peop...more
Felicia J.
Aug 29, 2013 Felicia J. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History and adventure buffs
Tom Reiss’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book is both a compelling biography of a forgotten hero and a concise, riveting account of a revolutionary decade in French and European history.

Alex Dumas, father of the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, took advantage of a narrow window of opportunity for black and mixed-race people opened by the French Revolution. He rose to the military rank of general, loved by his troops and celebrated for his bravery, combat prowess and battle...more
Dana Stabenow
Born in 1762 on the French sugar plantation hellhole of Sainte-Domingue (now Haiti) of a French wastrel nobleman and a slave woman, Alex Dumas as a possession of his father would be literally pawned for a ticket back to France in 1775. Eight months later his father, having regained his patrimony, not that he ever lifted a finger to support or nourish it in any way, redeems his son and brings him to France, there to be raised as a gentleman. Highly intelligent and physically gifted, he becomes an...more
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Open Books Chicago: Review: The Black Count by Tom Reiss 2 15 Jan 14, 2013 01:03PM  
Read It Forward: * THE BLACK COUNT by Tom Reiss 5 19 Nov 01, 2012 08:33AM  
French History: Dumas family history 1 15 Oct 14, 2012 10:28AM  
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TOM REISS is the author of the celebrated international bestseller The Orientalist. His biographical pieces have appeared The New Yorker, The New York Times and other publications. He lives with his wife and daughters in New York City.
More about Tom Reiss...
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“-I'm going to heaven! I replied.

-What do you mean, you're going to heaven?

-Let me pass.

-And what will you do in heaven, my poor child?

-I'm going there to kill God, who killed Daddy.”
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“GENERAL,
I have learned that the jack--------["jack---"] whose business it is to report to you upon the battle of the 27th [the 27 Nivôse, i.e., January 16] stated that I was only in observation throughout the battle. I don't wish any such observation on him, for he would have shit in his pants.
Salute and Brotherhood!
ALEX. DUMAS”
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