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

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Harvill Secker, 2012 - France - 414 pages
715 Reviews

Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

Who was the real Count of Monte Cristo? In this extraordinary biography, Tom Reiss traces the almost unbelievable life of the man who inspired not only Monte Cristo, but all three of the Musketeers: the novelist's own father.

Born in St Dominigue in 1762, the son of a French nobleman and a sugar plantation slave, General Alexandre Dumas did not have an auspicious start in life. Things got worse when his father sold him into slavery to pay his passage back to Normandy. But six months later, Dumas' fortunes changed. His father bought him out of slavery and raised him in France, where Dumas went to the nation's finest schools and fencing academies, and having enrolled in the army became known as France's most handsome and strongest soldier. By the time Napoleon invaded Egypt, Dumas was his top cavalry commander.

But Napoleon was threatened by the physical prowess and popularity of this black nobleman. He engineered his disgrace and imprisonment, and to please the sugar growers reintroduced slavery. A brief flowering of freedom and equality was over and forgotten, but Dumas' legacy would live on in the novels of the son who adored him.

Reiss tells this tale with magisterial authority. Long years of research have led him across Europe, the Caribbean and the Middle East in search of forgotten documents. He has journeyed through the Alps where Dumas scaled unscalable ice cliffs. He has walked the streets of Cairo where Dumas' intrepid cavalry charge is still remembered. The result is an enthralling book that entertains, astounds and triumphantly resurrects a lost hero from the world's first multiracial society.

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Well-researched portrayal of a fascinating man. - Goodreads
The writing was so-so to me. - Goodreads
Well researched with fantastic story telling. - Goodreads
highly recommend ... enlightening and educational! - Goodreads
My biggest complaint: no pictures! - Goodreads
Well researched and write in highly accessible prose. - Goodreads

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

User Review  - Jenny Thayer - Goodreads

Wonderful book, great writing and such an interesting life. All the things history class did not teach you is school are amazing. Read full review

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

User Review  - Shannon Terry - Goodreads

Interesting account of an amazing man. I had no idea that the French were (briefly) so progressive about race and slavery. What a different world it might have been if Napoleon hadn't been such a racist punk. Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Born in 1964, Tom Reiss is an American author and journalist who lives in New York. He is the author of The Orientalist, an acclaimed biography of Lev Nussimbaum (aka Kurban Said) which was shortlisted for the 2006 Samuel Johnson Prize.

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