The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
The swashbuckling heroes in Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo have stirred the imaginations of millions of readers worldwide. But few of them know that these dashing characters had a real-life model: the author’s father, Alex Dumas.
Born in Saint-Dominigue (modern-day Haiti), Alex Dumas was the son of a black slave woman and a fugitive white French nobleman. Despite adversity in his youth — including being sold into slavery by his father — Dumas made his way to Paris. There he became a master swordfighter and member of the French aristocracy. A brave and fearless soldier, he rose rapidly through the ranks of the French Republic army, becoming Napoléon’s cavalry commander in charge of 53,000 men. While fighting for Napoléon, Dumas was captured and imprisoned in a dungeon for several years, providing his son with the inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo.
Reiss weaves the younger Dumas’s recollections of his father with the incredible history of Dumas père to provide an intriguing story of a man of color making his way through 18th-century France, the modern world’s first multiracial society. This well-researched and engrossing book will appeal to readers interested in both French history and literature.