- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 13 hours and 35 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: September 18, 2012
- Language: English
- ASIN: B009CLN1OK
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
This book is non-fiction, of course, and from it, you may indeed learn much about revolutionary France, French military history of the time, and France’s attempt in the 1790s to abolish slavery. Mr. Reiss never hides his personal feelings about his dislike of Napoleon Bonaparte and may recruit you to his side upon your reading this book. Why Napoleon remains such an admired figure in modern France remains obscure.
The remarkable Dumas family, it’s history and its legacy consume much of the text. The only problem I had with the book was its use of extra-long footnotes – awkward on a Kindle. In addition the entire final 35-40% of the book is what the author calls “Epilogue.” I skipped most of it.
An interesting fact I learned about the writer Alexandre Dumas (who was 25% black, his father 50%) was the answer to this question I always had: Why are his books so long and verbose? Answer: Because he was paid by the line for his writing. Ha!
It’s a fine read, full of action and heroics, found relevant correspondence and sadness. If you like the Dumas family and want to know from where the inspiration, if not the actual characters, for the Dumas novels arose, then by all means read this excellent book. The General Dumas was a grand and impressive figure.
It’s a 4.40, rounded down to a 4.
On the minus side, sometimes the writing was ponderous. I had a hard time keeping track of just what year it was, since the author jumped around a bit in time. I was reading on a kindle, so it was more difficult to go back and check when I realized things were a bit "off", at least in my understanding.
However, I do recommend the book. If you have to, skim through the more ponderous sections (for me that would be the military details) and you'll still pretty much get the main point, namely that the Black Count was one hell of a leader, one hell of a fighter, one hell of a husband and father (however briefly he was home) and was royally screwed over by Napolean!
Reiss personalises the narrative with a graceful charm ... "When I went to Egypt looking for what remained of Dumas and the expedition ..." moving almost seamlessly from the Battle of Aboukir Bay to his personal visit to the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in the heart of modern Cairo - taking the reader with him to the recent burning of the Institute on December 17, 2011 (a by-product of the Tahrir Square protests}.
Reiss' reportage of the inter-racial relationships of the era are dealt with frankly and honestly as is the destruction of the concepts of liberte,egalite,and fraternite by the megalomaniacal Bonaparte.
I know that I shall read this book again!
The French Revolution led to many enlightened milestones, including the granting of equal rights to blacks, a breakthrough that belatedly inspired rebellion against France's extremely cruel system of slavery in its West Indies colonies. It also led to the liberation of the Jews from the ghettos, as well as greater rights for minorities, women and commoners wherever the.revolution spread. At the same time, the revolution featured terrible arbitrary cruelty and injustice, especially against the Christian clergy and the wealthy, as guillotines were erected in towns ruled by the revolutionaries. Many innocent people were unjustly murdered.
When Napoleon took the reins of power, liberty, equality and fraternity tended to be eclipsed by egomania, rank and empire. Of course, after Waterloo, Europe reverted to its old ways as the republican innovations were rescinded.
Through it all, Alex Dumas, son of a slave woman and a white planter, Alexander Dumas's father, shone as a beacon of bravery, military brilliance, and fairness, embodying the ideals of the revolution as they were originally meant to be. His career tended to follow the arc of the revolution, ascending rapidly as revolutionary forces advanced, declining as Napoleon arose and corrupted republican practices, and then coming to a bad end as he was imprisoned for years in Italy on his way back from Napoleon's disastrous Egyptian venture, a stint that broke his health.
Alexander Dumas based his famous novels on his father's life. The author demonstrates interesting biographical parallels with these works and is to be commended for his tireless and painstaking research efforts in uncovering the documents that enabled him to write this amazing book.