Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Book Review - 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 by Tom Reiss is the biography of General Alexandre Dumas, father of the famous author of the same name who gave us such remarkable literary classics as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Born to a runaway Marquess and an escaped African slave, Alex Dumas was educated in France and then joined the military just as French politics boiled over into the revolution that would change France so dramatically.  As French Republicans abolished slavery and broke down color barriers, Dumas' extraordinary courage and military expertise allowed him to rise through the ranks of the Revolutionary army until he crossed paths with Napoleon Bonaparte one too many times.

In reality, this book is more than just a biography of Dumas, it is also a rich source on the history of France during the late 1700s and beyond.  Thanks to his exhaustive research, Reiss provides plenty of detail on Hispaniola, slavery, the French Revolution, and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte as backdrop for the fascinating story and changing fortunes of General Alexandre Dumas.  Dumas died when his son was only four years old, but his life and adventures became the basis for many of his famous son's literary heroes.  Reiss looks beyond Dumas the author's memoirs of his father and reports from historical sources on General Dumas' exploits and proves that General Dumas put the "swash" in swashbuckler.  An excellent treatment of the time period and the subject.
 I listened to the audio book narrated by Paul Michael.  It is very well done, nicely paced, easy on the ears, with just enough drama to make the narrative flow.  And Michael does an excellent job with the French pronunciations.

Want to read more?

A Concise History of the French Revolution by Sylvia Neely, 2008

Napoleon: Life, Legacy, & Image: A Biography by Alan I. Forrest, 2011

My Memoirs by Alexandre Dumas download (out of copyright)

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