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

79%

14 Critic Reviews

Reiss has written a swashbuckling tale of his own.
-Guardian

Synopsis

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.

The real-life protagonist of The 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.  

 

About Tom Reiss

See more books from this Author
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 makes his home in New York City.
 
Published September 18, 2012 by Crown. 434 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 07 2012
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Critic reviews for The Black Count
All: 14 | Positive: 12 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Good
on Jun 15 2012

A rarefied, intimate literary study delineating a roiling revolutionary era.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Nigel Jones on Sep 28 2012

Reiss has written a swashbuckling tale of his own.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Leo Damrosch on Sep 14 2012

...thanks to Reiss we now know that Dumas grandpère was even more interesting.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Tina Bennett on Jun 25 2012

Reiss capitalizes on his subject’s charged personality as well as the revolutionary times in which he lived to create an exciting narrative.

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Wall Street Journal

Below average
Reviewed by Caroline Moorehead on Sep 14 2012

Despite Mr. Reiss's impressively thorough research, the general remains a shadowy figure on the sidelines of history... Repeatedly, the author must turn to speculation.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Drew Toal on Sep 19 2012

That a former slave could rise on his merits so far, so fast some seven decades before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation is a truly amazing story, one that needs no literary embellishment.

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Washington Times

Below average
Reviewed by Aram Bakshian on Oct 08 2012

He deserves to be remembered for what he was, not as the mythical figure that his son fantasized and Mr. Reiss has passed on to us in inflated form.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by David Holahan on Nov 21 2012

Reiss has written a remarkable and almost compulsively researched account of a man who played a critical, if largely overlooked, role in the French Revolution.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Madison Smartt Bell on Oct 06 2012

The raw material is extremely promising for a thrilling historical epic, sweeping through the French Revolution at home and abroad, and the Napoleonic Empire that followed.

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The Seattle Times

Good
Reviewed by Tyrone Beason on Nov 16 2012

...we now have a monument to the lives of both Dumas and his adoring son in the pages of "The Black Count."

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Bookmarks Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Jon on Sep 16 2012

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.

Read Full Review of The Black Count: Glory, Revol...

Mail Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Christopher Hudson on Nov 15 2012

This brilliantly researched book...deserves a film treatment all of its own.

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Time Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Lev Grossman on Dec 04 2012

...The Black Count is one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that also sheds light on the flukey historical moment that made it possible.

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Literary Review

Good
Reviewed by Jonathan Keates

The Black Count has its own moving narrative thread, made compelling by Reiss's impassioned absorption with the general's fate.

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Reader Rating for The Black Count
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