Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo” as Want to Read:
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview
Read Excerpt

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

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  7,659 ratings  ·  1,241 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
Hardcover, 414 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Crown
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Black Count, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Mercedes Rochelle On your home page, Once you add a book then mark it as READ a window comes up to rate it and you get the opportunity to review it. Or anyway, that's…moreOn your home page, Once you add a book then mark it as READ a window comes up to rate it and you get the opportunity to review it. Or anyway, that's how I do it!
Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonUnbroken by Laura HillenbrandEinstein by Walter IsaacsonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerJohn Adams by David McCullough
Best Biographies
59th out of 710 books — 1,641 voters
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenGone Girl by Gillian FlynnBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceQuiet by Susan Cain
Amazon's Books of the Year: Top 100 Picks for 2012
19th out of 100 books — 264 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jason Koivu
Nothing can live up to the exciting, over-the-top adventures Alexandre Dumas concocted, except maybe the real life exploits of his father.

The subtitle "The Real Count of Monte Cristo" is speaking of the writer's father Thomas Alexandre Dumas, a mixed race soldier from the former French colonies in the Americas. He was the basis for the tragic, wronged, swashbuckling heroes of The Count of Monte Cristo, the Three Musketeers tales, and more.

Tom Reiss' biography tries to bring back the memory of a
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
This is a really tough project to have been blessed with, I think.

On one hand, for the second time , Reiss has been lucky enough to stumble into a fascinating subject for a biography. Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Palleterie's (aka "Alex Dumas'") life is enthralling in its own right, even told in a straightforward encyclopedic way. The son of a ne'er-do-well French aristocrat and one of his black slave mistresses (whom he seems to have taken up with while in hiding from his family and his creditor

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

"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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book was the October selection for my book club, and I probably would not have read it otherwise. It is obviously well researched, and the author includes his own journey to access the Dumas family documents even after the keeper of the documents (and the code for the lock) passes away. Alexandre Dumas who we all know as the author had a legendary father who was well known in the French military but because of his ethnicity and competition with Napoleon, has lost attention over the years.

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
To be honest, I only knew of one of the three Dumas men: the one who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. My French history is pretty patchy, too, so this book was full of information that was new to me — it’s amazing how little one can know about Nelson and Napoleon despite knowing their names and historical significance. It focuses on General Dumas: not the father or the son we know from literary works, but the father and grandfather of them. I had no idea he was a man of ...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
'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
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
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
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
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.
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder

Thank heavens for this book. The details of the extraordinary life of Alex Dumas deserve to be known and should not be lost to history.

Reiss did a a masterful job of interweaving French history for someone like me who is rather weak in this area of knowledge.

Also, as this biography was NOT a dry historical tome, I recco to anyone who likes an exciting and easy to read story.
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
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
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
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
What rogues Alexandre Dumas' grandfather and great-uncles were!
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
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
Besides having an exceedingly long title, I think the time was wrong for me to read this book. Wrapped up in other ideas and too much nonfiction reading on my plate, I had a difficult time getting into this book despite the fact that it is actually quite well written.

From the slave-run plantations of Sainte Domingue (now Haiti) through the French Revolution, the Dumas family is traced and linked to every vital episode of the era. The author tells the story of General Dumas and points out events
This book didn't seem much like a biography, more of a general history that happened to follow the life of one man. This set up probably made it better for me as I tend to prefer that type of story.
There was some very interesting information about the Revolution and slavery within this book which will lead me to read more about both topics but I'm left thinking that I only got part of a story here, that it just skimmed the surface and didn't delve into anything, not Dumas's life or the Revoluti
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.
Here are my first impressions:
Reiss's writing style was engaging and easy to read. Don't be intimidated by the length of the book as a lot of it is notes & references. The actual text was about 330 pages.

I felt that this was not a traditional biography; rather, Reiss used General Alexandre Dumas (father of the famous writer) to illustrate the history of race relations in France & French colonies during the final decades of the monarchy, through the Revolution and into the early years of
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.
The Count of Monte Cristo was my favorite book for more than a decade, and I'm a fan of Alexandre Dumas despite knowing very little about him. I'm grateful to have run across this book; a friend of mine on Goodreads read it and rated it, and I knew I needed to read it myself. Every author writes themselves into their stories, and it appears Alexandre Dumas has also written his father. He surely deserved it -- from what little Reiss can dig up about him, Alexandre Dumas' father was a war hero and ...more
Jennifer D
2.5-stars, really.

blargh!! talk about dashed expectations - i am so disappointed with this book. for the most part, i avoid reading full reviews for books i have not yet had a chance to read for myself. i don't want to be swayed by outside opinions, and i like to avoid setting my expectations too high. while i have not read reviews for the black count, it was hard to avoid hearing about the critical acclaim this book was receiving. as well, a few of my GR friends have read and loved the book - a
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
All About Books: Group Read (August/September) - The Black Count by Tom Reiss 48 41 Sep 14, 2015 03:40PM  
Catching up on Cl...: The Black Count 66 49 Mar 31, 2015 10:10AM  
When will we see the film? 11 41 Jan 25, 2015 09:38AM  
Open Books Chicago: Review: The Black Count by Tom Reiss 2 20 Jan 14, 2013 01:03PM  
  • Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire
  • The Illustrious Dead: The Terrifying Story of How Typhus Killed Napoleon's Greatest Army
  • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
  • The Richest Woman in America: The Life and Times of Hetty Green
  • The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc
  • Talleyrand
  • Iron Curtain : The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956
  • Panama Fever: The Epic Story of One of the Greatest Human Achievements of All Time-- the Building of the Panama Canal
  • Napoleon: A Life
  • Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution
  • The Black Russian
  • The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War
  • Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
  • Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
  • George F. Kennan: An American Life
  • The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe
  • The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
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...

Share This Book

“-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.”
I have learned that the jack ass 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!
More quotes…