WINNER OF THE 2013 PULITZER PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY
General Alex Dumas is a man almost unknown today, yet his story is strikingly familiar -- because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used his larger-than-life feats as inspiration for such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers .Read more...
WINNER OF THE 2013 PULITZER PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY
General Alex Dumas is a man almost unknown today, yet his story is strikingly familiar--because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used his larger-than-life feats as inspiration for such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
But, hidden behind General Dumas's swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: he 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 made his way to Paris, where he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution--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. TIME magazine called The Black Count -one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that sheds light on the historical moment that made it possible.- 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
- Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
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.)
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.