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The Black Count: Glory, revolution, betrayal and the real Count of Monte Cristo

The Black Count: Glory, revolution, betrayal and the real Count of Monte Cristo [Kindle Edition]

Tom Reiss
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"A highly enjoyable mingling of scholarship and sleuthing." Paul Theroux "A wonderous tale, beautifully told...mesmerising, poignant and almost incredible." New York Times

Book Description

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2013. Reiss, like the novelist Dumas before him, triumphantly resurrects a lost hero - General Alexandre Dumas, the real count of Monte Cristo.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1628 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (20 Sep 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #137,164 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Count 17 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a biography of General Alexandre Dumas, father of the novelist and a man who experienced and achieved a great deal in his amazing life. His son was not yet four when he died in 1806, but obviously hero worshipped him and incorporated many of the tales of his life, told by his mother, into his novels. In fact, his fathers life reads very much like a novel and is an astounding account of a man who was born the son of a slave and lived through a revolution and the rise of Napoleon.

The first part of this book looks at the early life of Alexandre Dumas, who was himself the son of a Marquis, a French nobleman in hiding on the French sugar colony of Saint-Domingue, and Marie Cessette Dumas, who was a slave. Saint-Domingue was a place where the sons of impoverished noble familes could strike it rich, as sugar was a scarce and luxurious commodity. The Marquis, known then as Antoine Alexandre de I'Isle, had effectively come 'to sponge' off his younger brother, who had married the daughter of a plantation owner. Eventually he had four children with Marie Cessette Dumas, although when he eventually returned to France he took only his youngest child, Alexandre, with him.

Alexandre must have had a difficult time in Paris. Although 'men of colour' lived a free life in France, he still came up against racism at every turn. Eventually, he set up on his own, taking his mothers name, and joining the army as a dragoon. The author recreates the history of that period so well you almost feel you are living through it. We read of Alexandre's great skills as a swordsman, his incredible strength and agility, his renowned good looks and intelligence. These were abilities he used to climb through the ranks of the army as the French Revolution erupted and the army was reformed.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legionaire extraordinary 13 Oct 2012
By Hande Z
Alexandre Dumas had created some of the best loved and flamboyant heroes in literature -Edmond Dantes and d'Artagnan from "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "The Three Musketeers" respectively. "The Black Count" is the biography of the man who inspired Alexandre Dumas - his father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas adopted "Dumas" from his mother (a black Haitian slave) but preferred to be addressed as "Alex Dumas". He enlisted as a professional soldier in the French army and rose from the lowest rank to become a high-ranking general and Commander of the Second Calvary Division. Alex Dumas was a man of impressive physique. He was six foot one or two inches tall, and full of courage. He once rushed alone against a squad of twenty Austrian soldiers, killing three and wounded eight. His fame in the French campaigns against the Austrians, Belgians, and Italians was legendary. His opponents called him "The Black Devil" and were terrified of him. He was a man of great organizational skills and a source of inspiration to his men. It was not just his bravery and incredible victories that made him a hero to his son. He was also an upright and magnanimous man who protected the weak and the defeated. More importantly, he was a professional soldier who led when he had to lead, and followed when he had to follow. Alex Dumas was thus a completely different man from his erstwhile fellow general - one Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte was short, and his positioning in the battlefield was not the same as Alex's. Bonaparte was vain and ambitious. Bonaparte was cunning and manipulative. Above all, Reiss made clear that Bonaparte was jealous and fearful of the Black Count.

Alex Dumas was only a corporal in 1789 when the Bastille fell in the midst of the French revolution.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Life of General Alexandre Dumas 17 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The life and military record of General Alexandre Dumas almost seems like the stuff of legend. His son, Alexandre Dumas (Pere) the writer, used him as the model for some of his most well known characters including Edmond Dantes (the Count of Monte Cristo) and d'Artagnan (the Three Musketeers).

Alexandre Dumas (or Alex Dumas as he signed his name), was born in Saint Domingue to an African Women and a French Marquis and rose very quickly through the ranks solely on his own merit to become a General in the French army. A popular and striking commander who always lead from the front and would typically be found in the thickest and most dangerous of the fighting. Unfortunately like his comrade in arms, teacher and fellow revolutionary, Chevalier de St George, he was to face racism, bigotry and betrayal.

In "The Black Count", Tom Reiss has written a most comprehensive biography of the General and the events which shaped and affected his life. From his early days in Saint Dominque to his rise to prominence during the French Revolution, the author draws on a wealth of information including personal memoirs and letters, the writings of his novelist son, visits to various sites of the campaigns he was involved in and records of his life and militarily service which altogether bring to light this virtual giant (standing at over six foot tall) of his time.

He was to end his days almost forgotten as special laws enacted by his contemporary and one time commander Napoleon Bonaparte, started to affect lives of "People of Colour". The leaders of Saint Dominque were to lead their country to become the independent Republic of Haiti and his support for liberty and equality to the end of his life echoed the very principles which those in his land of birth were fighting for.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good service and price.
Published 29 days ago by C Palma
5.0 out of 5 stars Will blow your mind
This book is incredible! Talk about a firgitten hero!
Published 1 month ago by Bennett Gaverne
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!
Brilliant! A hugely enjoyable read.

In a colourful globe-trotting tale historical truth proves to be both the source for and the equal of fiction (as it so often does),... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sebastian Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars very well written
As someone who enjoys history I always like to read about new areas. I found this book to be both entertaining and informative and would highly recommend
Published 3 months ago by Sinead O'Rourke
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and readable history
The remarkable father of Alexandre Dumas is a terrific subject for historical biography. The reader learns a lot about this complex period in French history in tracking his life... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Woodworm
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
A tremendous read, well written and with interesting details. A great gift for my dad, a history boffin who loves a goodyarn.
Published 5 months ago by Miss E Dundas
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
What an amazing dad - is it any wonder that 'middle Alex', had such a sense of adventure. Such a sad end to is life.
Published 7 months ago by Patrick Flynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing
This is an amazing story of the life of the father of Alexandre Dumas. It's as exciting as any of the Dumas novels.
Published 7 months ago by Jane Lindsay
5.0 out of 5 stars The French Revolution as a template for the institutionalised racism...
This book deserves the highest rating for daring to throw a revealing light on yet another egregious blot on the universally received projection of the French revolution as the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Uthman Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars The kind of story only Dumas himself could make up...
This is the kind of story you couldn't make up. The novelist Alexandra Dumas is of course well-known to all, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo among... Read more
Published 8 months ago by C. Ball
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