The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nothing can live up to the exciting, over-the-top adventures Alexandre Dumas concocted, except maybe the real life exploits of his father.
The subtitle "The Real Count of Monte Cristo" is speaking of the writer's father Thomas Alexandre Dumas, a mixed race soldier from the former French colonies in the Americas. He was the basis for the tragic, wronged, swashbuckling heroes of The Count of Monte Cristo, the Three Musketeers tales, and more.
Tom Reiss' biography tries to bring back the memory of an unfortunately forgotten hero of the French Revolutionary Republic. General Dumas rose up from a common soldier to lead thousands during France's Revolutionary Wars. Reiss portrays a man passionate about the cause and willing to risk his life in the most daring of ways for the ideal of equality for all.
The Black Count marches linearly ahead at an admirable pace, mixing the history of father and son (and even grandfather as it applies to his future generations), tantalizing and revealing at just the right moments. A high quality history text that, regardless of dwelling rightly upon human atrocities, can't help but entertain considering its adventuresome subject matter.
Reiss certainly seems biased towards his subject and even tries to put General Dumas on a pedestal...literally by the end there is discussion and lament over a statue of him. However, if you can forgive him his slant, I think you'll find this a highly enjoyable read!
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