Daily News header

The Black Count Book Review

By     get stories by email

"The original Alexandre Dumas was born in 1762... in the French sugar colony of Saint-Domingue. [His] life is so extraordinary on so many levels that it's easy to forget that it was led by a black man, in a world of whites, at the end of the 18th Century. His mother... was a slave, and he himself was sold into bondage... by his own father, an aristocrat...

[As] the son of a marquis and a slave, [he] had the unique perspective of being from the highest and lowest ranks of society at once... [He] made it to France and... on the eve of the French Revolution... began a meteoric rise through the ranks of the new revolutionary army.

[His] story brilliantly illuminates the first true age of emancipation: a single decade during which the French Revolution not only sought to end slavery and discrimination based on skin color but also broke down the ghetto walls and offered Jews full civil and political rights."

- Excerpted from the Prologue (pgs. 7-12)

When anyone mentions Alexandre Dumas, they're ordinarily talking about the author of such memorable novels as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. What almost nobody knows is that the great writer shared his name with a father who was perhaps more famous in his day, a decorated military hero who led an army of over 50,000 soldiers during the French Revolution.

Thus, it is no surprise that the exploits of the elder Dumas might serve as the inspiration for much of his son's work, especially the aforementioned classics, as well as the lesser-known Georges. That thinly-veiled biography of his dad revolves around a young man of mixed race from a French sugar colony who makes his way to Paris where he becomes a celebrated swordsman.

Unfortunately, the real-life Alex, Sr. fell from grace and became lost in obscurity because of ideological differences with a fellow general, Napoleon Bonaparte. For, Dumas had considered theirs a people's struggle for worldwide liberation, while his power-hungry comrade was ostensibly more interested in world domination.

In addition, the statuesque Alexandre was blessed with height and a magnificent physique that left the diminutive Napoleon feeling more than a little threatened. This eventuated in the latter's having his competitor ignominiously tossed into a dungeon, ala the protagonist of The Count of Monte Cristo.

Napoleon also made sure to have Dumas erased from the history books, a disservice belatedly undone thanks to the efforts of Tom Reiss, author of The Black Count. Reiss devoted a half-dozen years to painstaking research to the project, unearthing a cornucopia of astonishing information from dusty archives en route to penning a revealing and compelling page-turner about an unsung icon that time somehow forgot.

Vive la Dumas!

To order a copy of The Black Count, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/030738246X/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Black Count:
Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
by Tom Reiss
The Crown Publishing Group
Hardcover, $27.00
428 pages
ISBN: 978-0-307-38246-7

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Book Publishing News

Karin Slaughter discusses her latest opus, Cop Town, a riveting murder mystery set in Atlanta in 1974, and tells us what inspired her to write it.
45 year-old pop icon Jennifer Lopez has been in the limelight for a couple decades, and her life has at times been splashed across the tabloids...
In 1883, she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a train, an experience that she chronicled in her first published piece. Though Wells achieved success as a writer, editor and even co-owner of a newspaper, her greatest accomplishments c
Jeff Chang tackles deep and consequential subject-matter and shares profound insights on such themes as the rise of Obama, multiculturalism and gentrification.
Born and raised on a rough side of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. William Henry Cosby, Jr. overcame a challenging childhood to enjoy a 50+ year career in show business.
Brian Moran, a lawyer, contends that the American Dream has been hijacked by what he calls hyper-incarceration, that puts one in three black juveniles into prison.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month


Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

landing page ad

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site