Suzanne's Reviews > The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

The Black Count by Tom Reiss
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's review
Sep 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: biography, non-fiction
Read from August 29 to September 04, 2012

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 through the army of French Republic, ultimately creating the stuff of which legends are made. And like legends, sometimes they are dealt cruel twists of fate. His country abandons him, but the elder Dumas, a general and a gentleman, is still a hero in the eyes of his compatriots and in the eyes of his son, who will help to immortalize the man.

Written for a broad audience, The Black Count is not only a fascinating tale of a remarkable man, but also mesmerizes the reader with it’s detailed history of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic era, and the social impact of slavery and racism within France and it’s territories. Thanks go out to Crown Publishers for sending me an ARC of The Black Count! Great story, great history, great book! Four and a half stars!
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Suzanne, I have thought that I would have trouble with The Count of Monte Cristo because I have difficulty with Victorian literature. Now I realize that it is based on his father's life, so I was considering this instead. Am I making a mistake? should I read Alexandre Dumas' instead? I have read another book by Tom Reiss: The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life. This was great!

Suzanne If you have difficulty with Victorian literature, you might want to try the BLACK COUNT instead. It tells the full story, in a very readable narrative non-fiction. And knowing you like Reiss' writing, you can't go wrong with it!

message 3: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie I feel relieved. I know I should like The Count of Monte Cristo, but I really think it will drive me crazy. This would be a wonderful solution. I think his father's life sounds very interesting! Thank you for your help.

What is special for me is that Alexandre Dumas spent one summer in Roscoff, Brittany, writing a cookbook. The tourist bureau used to be in the house where he stayed.

I recommend you check out both "The Orientalist" and Ali and Nino: A Love Story. I would suggest you read the latter first.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I see you got talked back out of reading The Count of Monte Cristo, again! lol

I look forward to your review of The Black Count, Chrissie. It's on my tbr list.

message 5: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Jeanette, do you really think I will enjoy "The Count of Monte Critsto? You know how I prefer biographies! I know I am terrible. People convince me, and then I start thinking again and then right before I purchase it I waver........ I was thinking this might be a better solution for me. His father's life does sound pretty amazing! It is the writing style I am worried about, no the subject matter.

message 6: by Kim (new)

Kim Chrissie, as thrilled as I would be if you liked 'The Count of Monte Christo', my honest opinion is that you wouldn't. It is not Victorian as such, given that it is French and not English literature, and it is quite easy to read because it contains so much dialogue, but it is wildly improbable. I liken it to a 19th century soap opera. That said, it is available for free as a French language audiobook and I presume it can be had for free on Kindle, so you could always start it and see what you think. This book, though, sounds like it would be right. up your alley. I think I'll add it too.

Great review!

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

The Count is a great story, a real page-turner. It is nothing like Dickens or Gaskell in style. Lots of action, passion, revenge, exotic locations. As for you liking it -- it's a toss-up. You might find it too melodramatic (like Phantom of the Opera). I suggest you read The Black Count, first, and then if it sparks your curiosity, pick up a free copy of The Count, and see if it appeals to you. If you can listen to it in French, for free, that's a good thing. I would be hesitant about a free English version, because of translation issues.

message 8: by Chrissie (last edited Jan 11, 2013 10:11PM) (new) - added it

Chrissie Jeanette,yeah, the melodrama could be the stumbling point! I can get an audiobook version narrated by the fabulous John Lee. At Audible if you dislike it or think it is just OK, you can return it. Their new policy is fantastic. BUT, if I dislike it, it is a waste of time! THIS is the mane issue for me.

Suzanne, you have read both. How would your characterize the difference between them?

Suzanne Chrissie, The Count of Monte Cristo is like a great adventure tale, melodramatic as Jeanette says and written like a 19th century action novel (because it is!). I didn't mind that, but it's not everyone's cup of tea. The Black Count is narrative non-fiction. It has lots of great stories and fascinating information, but it is 21st century writing and that makes it very palatable. I agree with Jeanette, read THE BLACK COUNT first, and then, if it strikes your curiousity, get a free version of The Count of Monte Cristo to try.

message 10: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Makes sense what you are both saying to me. I prefer 21st century writing and melodramatic adventure tales are not usually my cup of tea, strange as that may be! I am so glad I can read this and get the story of his father! Thank you both of you.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I look forward to your review of this one, then! :)

message 12: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Jeanette, I will do that! Suzanne says it is very good.:0)

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

If I don't read it, I'm thinking Andreas might enjoy it.

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