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

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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 as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers Read more...

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More About The Black Count by Tom Reiss

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 his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.
Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave -- who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.
Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.
The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.


  • ISBN-13: 9780307382467
  • ISBN-10: 030738246X
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
  • Publish Date: September 2012
  • Page Count: 414

Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Historical - General
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Military
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Cultural Heritage

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-06-25
  • Reviewer: Staff

Alex Dumas, an extraordinary man whose sensational life had been largely lost to history solely because of his race, takes the spotlight in this dynamic tale. Thanks to Reiss’s excellent research, combined with the passionate memorial his son, Alexandre Dumas, consistently built in his own novels and memoir, Dumas’s life has been brought back to light. Father to the well-known novelist and clear inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as the adventurous spirit of The Three Musketeers and other stories, Dumas (1762–1806) rose through the ranks of the French army from a lowly private in the dragoons to become a respected general who marched into Egypt at Napoleon’s side. (The rivalry and juxtaposition between these two leaders proves fascinating.) Born in what is now Haiti to a French nobleman father and a slave mother, the biracial Dumas chanced to come of age during the French Revolution, a brief period of equality in the French empire; he was thus granted numerous opportunities that the son of a slave 20 years before him (or even 20 years later) would not have enjoyed. Reiss capitalizes on his subject’s charged personality as well as the revolutionary times in which he lived to create an exciting narrative. Agent: Tina Bennett, Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.)

BookPage Reviews

The real-life Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic tale of betrayal and revenge, penned by the renowned 19th-century author Alexandre Dumas. But it turns out the novel is not merely fiction; key plot developments were based on the true-life experiences of the author’s father. This is the premise of The Black Count, a new book by Tom Reiss that traces the incredible rise and precipitous fall of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, the father of author Alexandre Dumas.

In many ways, the life of the elder Dumas mirrors that of Edmond Dantes, the hero of The Count of Monte Cristo. In the novel, Dantes is falsely accused of being a supporter of Napoleon, who has been exiled from France. Dantes is imprisoned for 14 years before escaping and enacting revenge on his accusers.

While some occurrences in Thomas-Alexandre Dumas’ life were not as dramatic as those of the fictional Dantes, other aspects were even more remarkable. Dumas was born in present-day Haiti to a French nobleman and a black slave. Brought to France by his father, the mixed-race Dumas became a general under Napoleon Bonaparte.

But General Dumas’ fortunes abruptly changed. He was captured in Italy, thrown into a dungeon and left to rot. Though he was finally released, he died impoverished and embittered. Perhaps his revenge was achieved with his son’s writing of The Count of Monte Cristo, which takes a critical look at France’s tumultuous political climate.

The Black Count is a thoroughly researched, lively piece of nonfiction that will be savored by fans of Alexandre Dumas. But The Black Count needs no partner: It is fascinating enough to stand on its own.

BAM Customer Reviews