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132 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic, Historical, and Reader-Friendly, August 7, 2012
This review is from: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo (Hardcover)
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The creative way in which Tom Reiss has written "The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Crisco" is remarkable. In writing the biography of General Alexandre Dumas, the father of the famous author Alexandre Dumas, Reiss engages the reader with the connections between the real life experiences of the father and the characters, plots, and locations used by the son in his novels "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "The Three Musketeers." Many of General Dumas exploits such as his imprisonment without trial in the Taranto fortress in the Kingdom of Naples by "The Holy Faith Army" would become inspiration for the son's later book "The Count of Monte Cristo."

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie arrived in France from Saint-Domingue (Haiti) as a slave in 1776 at age 14, the son of a white fugitive aristocrat, the Marquis de la Pailleterie, and a black slave, Cessette Dumas. Enlisting in the army in June of 1786 Thomas-Alexandre would change his name to Alexandre Dumas for a number of reasons. Among the possible reasons, anger at his father for having sold him in Saint-Domingue or as an aristocrat's son he would be damaging his father name (the Marquis) by enlisting as a private instead of officer as was expected. Note: Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie would have had difficulty becoming an officer because of his mixed race and the law making it difficult to claim his rightful title.

Alexandre's rise through the military ranks from private to general would be meteoric owing to the circumstances of the French Revolution and because of his individual attributes, such as bravery on the battlefield, his strength, equestrian ability, and swordsmanship. Rising above the racial injustices of the period General Dumas excelled as one of the most legendary cavalry generals in Europe.

"The Black Count" is an admirable biography; the military life of Dumas revolves around the French Revolution 1789-1799 of which Reiss covers in a concise although brief manner. The book is well researched and the determination by the author to seek out all letters, diaries, and official military records is evident in his Prologue and the bibliography. I found the book fascinating and informative and look forward to more works by Tom Reiss. I highly recommend this book and give it the 5 Stars it deserves.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 2, 2014 5:11:03 AM PDT
I agree entirely with this review. The book is one of the most entertaining and informative I have ever read. Not only is it a biography of a truly amazing man, it also paints a wonderful picture of late 18th century France, far better than you will find in any text book or for that matter in any historical novel with which I am familiar. FIVE STARS!
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