The Black Count

The Black Count

Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Book - 2012
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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.

Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2012.
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780307382467
Characteristics: ix, 414 p. :,map.


From the critics

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Jun 06, 2017

A wonderful book; I truly enjoyed it ! Every fan of Alexandre Dumas should read and understand the background of his stories: the unusual upbringing, the exceptional person his father was. I thought my knowledge about the French Revolution was quite good,- and yet I found so many new details and information that was completely new to me, and about the Racist part that I was completely unaware of (thinking that slavery was abolished).
The book is such an easy read, with a wonderful sense of humor, that you don't even notice that you absorb a lot of history (and important one) in the process.
A pity that there is no true memorial to the brave and fascinating General Dumas.I am glad that this book, restores some of it.

Oct 26, 2016

Terrific book, great history, and a story that needed to be told. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Jan 04, 2016

The breathlessly romantic true story of the founder of the Dumas family. Alex Dumas seems to have had the same fondness for a good yarn as his son and grandson. But the facts are wonderful enough: born the son of a slave and a disgraced french aristocrat on an outlaw tobacco plantation in Haiti; sold into temporary slavery by his own father; education at a prestigious Parisian school; years of urbane indulgence; renunciation of his aristocratic heritage and enlistment in the army at the lowest rank, just in time for the French Revolution; a steady rise to the rank of general; encounters with Napoleon; shipwreck (literal) and imprisonment; discrimination and downfall. Among this book's many pleasures is a refreshing view of French culture, civil rights, colonialism and slavery -- so many books available in North America dwell on the U.S. experience. Highly recommended; it will leave you wanting to know more.

Quimeras Oct 12, 2015

“The Black Count” captures a fascinating period in France’s history and the equally fascinating life of General Alex Dumas. I was thoroughly engaged in this book. Note: do not skip the footnotes. They offer some interesting tidbits.

Apr 25, 2015

If you enjoy history you will love this book.

Jun 24, 2013

Wonderful read
Words, pages, thoughts flowed past
Filled in aspects of French history, social history and art that somehow I had missed, forgotten or never really understood.
Great story at the same time

Jun 20, 2013

A wonderfully written look at the little known history behind the Count of Monte Cristo author and his larger than life father/hero.

VanessaCCL Nov 27, 2012

"If you've ever wondered where the 19th-century French novelist Alexandre Dumas learned to swashbuckle, biographer Tom Reiss has the answer in The Black Count. The novelist's father, known as Alex, was born in 1762 on the island of Santo Domingo to a black slave and a French aristocrat, who later brought his son to France. Alex rose through the ranks in the French Army and eventually served in Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. However, he was captured by enemies, languished in prison, and died before his son was four. Alexandre idolized his father and used parts of his life's story in his novels, including The Count of Monte Cristo." Biography and Memoir Newsletter November 2012

adagarcon Oct 27, 2012

"So often when one has discusses Dumas "pere" & "fils", the conversation seldom segues into the realm of their progenitor. That's why Reiss' "Black Count" is a nice respite from the normal conversational ebbs and flows. Make no mistake, this is book does not rehash of the Count of Monte Cristo. However, it is a detailed biographical account of the life and times of Alexandre Davy Dumas. Romantics, will delight in the series of intimate letters exchanged between the Dumas and his wife. After finising the book, the exchanges still managed to stand out in my mind and quite possibly hint where Davy Dumas' future bloodline recieved their litteral footnotes. Also, History Buffs take hold.

Oct 12, 2012

This review ( gives it a 5-star rating, fwtw.

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