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

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,569 Ratings  ·  1,356 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
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Jason Koivu
Oct 06, 2015 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
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 really liked it
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
Mar 10, 2015 Hana rated it really liked it

"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.

Apr 21, 2015 Nikki rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
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
Anna Kļaviņa
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
Claire McAlpine
Oct 18, 2012 Claire McAlpine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, france
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'
Oct 12, 2012 'Aussie Rick' rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: napoleonic
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
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
What rogues Alexandre Dumas' grandfather and great-uncles were!
Feb 29, 2016 Becky rated it it was amazing
Wow. Unbelievable. There are not many times that I read a 500+ page history book and want to begin re-reading it the moment I finish, but this was one of those. There was just so much new information to me, so many stories, so many "characters", and so much that was important and that I want to remember, that I just don't feel that on one read through I could have possible gotten it all.

The fact that this story isn't told all the time, is a crime. Alex Dumas lead an impossible, heroic, and ultim
Sep 05, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it
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
Jul 14, 2013 Tony rated it liked it
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.
Jan 02, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, rth-lifetime
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 really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
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.
Bryan Alexander
Mar 22, 2016 Bryan Alexander rated it really liked it
The Black Count is a rousing, tragic biography of a French Revolutionary general. Alexandre Dumas was also the father of another Dumas, the novelist, and grandfather of one more, the playwright. He was also black, living while black enslavement still powered a great deal of the world. Dumas (grand)senior hasn't been noticed much by history, and Tom Reiss sets out to correct that error.

Overall, Reiss succeeds. Dumas is a compelling character, if hard to dive into -a fault not the author's, but du
Dec 05, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Richard by:
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
Dec 18, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 22, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it
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
Dec 24, 2012 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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.
Aug 21, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.
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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.
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