Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution,…

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte… (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Tom Reiss

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8418810,711 (4.08)2 / 156
Title:The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
Authors:Tom Reiss
Info:New York : Crown Trade, 2012.
Collections:Your library, Favorites of recent years, Read 2013
Tags:biography, history, French history, 18th century history, 19th century history

Work details

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (2012)

Recently added byhalloween1, Leslie_L.J., laruebk, dcunning11235, gwynr, marinerlibrary, private library
  1. 20
    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père (marieke54)
  2. 20
    Georges by Alexandre Dumas (Artymedon)
    Artymedon: A novel over race relations by Alexandre Dumas who was inspired by Alex Dumas General of the French Revolution and former slave to create his fictional character Georges as narrated by Tom Reiss.
  3. 10
    The Black Jacobins by C. L. R. James (Artymedon)
    Artymedon: The three revolutions that created our modern world are the American the Haitian and the French Revolution. The story of the Black Count is the point of intersection between the three in that they tried and did for a short time create a society based on the principle of equality for man regardless of race, birth or religion. It is also the key for the lecture of Alexandre Dumas' important works [[The Count of Monte-Cristo]] and [[Georges]], the later treating the question of race. That the real father of Dumas, a general of the French revolution be less known that his illustrious son author of the "Three Musketeers" is explained by how the reaction to the French revolution and the counter coup of the Thermidorians followed by that of the strong man of the sugar lobby, Napoleon, reestablished slavery in the Antilles. It is also the story of how and how it failed to do so in St Domingue, where the Black Count was born a slave, prompting the independence of this nation as black and mulatto only Haiti followed by its economic blocade by the rest of the world. Tom Reiss not only writes wonderfully be he also researched his subject in the Castle of Vincennes France and in the Dumas archives in Villers-Cotteret because this extraordinary Black Count, unlike Edmond Dantes, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, really existed.… (more)
  4. 00
    Mes mémoires by Alexandre Dumas (LamontCranston)
  5. 00
    Monsieur de Saint-George: Virtuoso, Swordsman, Revolutionary: A Legendary Life Rediscovered by Alain Guede (goddesspt2)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (89)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
This is a biography of an extraordinary man living in extraordinary times. The mixed race child of a French nobleman and his slave would rise to the height of command despite prevailing racial beliefs. He lives through the French Revolution and the advent of the Emperor Napoleon. Through it all he is hailed by every honest person as a fantastic soldier, powerful fighter, and man of exemplary honor.

As the sun sets on his military career he is wrongfully imprisoned and brutally treated. When he is finally released, he returns to a France that is much changed by the racist decrees of the emperor. Now his marriage to a white woman is considered unlawful and his home is located in a "white" district.

This man's amazing life and the many injustices he suffered would inspire his son, Alexander Dumas, to write his many novels. A truly astonishing life, faithfully recounted. ( )
  Juva | Aug 12, 2016 |
Tom Reiss focuses as much on the social and political climate of colonial, revolutionary and Napoleonic France as he does on Alex Dumas himself which broadens his depiction of the life of this extraordinary man and the extraordinary time he lived in. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
I came away with a strong dislike of Napoleon and his arrogance, I can understand how this experience of the black count (which is accurate history) to a story greater fictional story. I am glad this piece of history is told with ease and understanding of this historical period. ( )
  phillund | May 13, 2016 |
This is an eye-opener about race during the 18th century; really interesting stuff, and an exciting life story. ( )
  Abby_Goldsmith | Feb 10, 2016 |
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss


It’s been awhile since I have found a good biography on a historical figure, the last few have left me bored and struggling to finish after weeks – so I was happy to finally find one that kept me interested from beginning to end.

Many people know of the famed author, Alexandre Dumas – writer of such books as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo – but just as many are unaware of his father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas would become a great commander in the French military, working along (and later under) Napoleon, all while of African descent in a time where slavery was a growing problem throughout many parts of the world. His famous son would later depict a version of his father in The Count of Monte Cristo.

I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would. I knew little (ok, NOTHING) of this man so I had no preconceived notions of what to expect. It was a well written book and not at all boring. The author obviously went through a lot of trouble and research to find out about this man often forgotten as the times changed. And this book is more than just about a man; it was about a world changing, war, slavery, and the people that changed it all (for better or worse). If one is into history, I would definitely recommend this book. It was a fast-paced book and I often had to choose between this thing called sleep or reading – the book won in most cases.
( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Reissprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Christian RugstadTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
It was nearly midnight on the night of February 26, 1806, and Alexandre Dumas, the future author of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, was asleep at his uncle's house. He was not yet four years old.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 030738246X, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2012: Generations have been enthralled by Alexandre Dumas' characters, especially the wronged hero in The Count of Monte Cristo and the daring swordsmen in The Three Musketeers. Yet few realize that these memorable characters were inspired by Dumas' father, General Alex Dumas, the son of a French count and a black Haitian slave. Tom Reiss brings the elder Dumas alive with previously unpublished correspondence and meticulous research, providing the context necessary to understand how exceptional his life as a mulatto general in a slave-owning empire truly was. From single-handedly holding a bridge in the Alps against 20 enemies to spending years held captive in a fortress, Alex Dumas is a fascinating character that not even his son's vivid imagination could have dreamed up. --Malissa Kent

An Essay by Author Tom Reiss

Tom Reiss

I've always loved exploring history. It's like an uncharted hemisphere, and when you look at it closely, it has a tendency to change everything about your own time. I'm also drawn to outsiders, people who have swum against the tide. I often feel like a kind of detective hired to go find people who have been lost to history, and discover why they were lost. Whodunnit?

In this case, I found solid evidence that, of all people, Napoleon did it: he buried the memory of this great man – Gen. Alexandre Dumas, the son of a black slave who led more than 50,000 men at the height of the French Revolution and then stood up to the megalomaniacal Corsican in the deserts of Egypt. (The "famous" Alexandre Dumas is the general's son – the author of The Three Musketeers.) Letters and eyewitness accounts show that Napoleon came to hate Dumas not only for his stubborn defense of principle but for his swagger and stature – over six feet tall and handsome as a matinee idol – and for the fact that he was a black man idolized by the white French army. (I found that Napoleon's destruction of Dumas coincided with his destruction of one of the greatest accomplishments of the French Revolution – racial equality – a legacy he also did his best to bury.)

I first came across Gen. Dumas's life in the memoir of his son Alexandre, the novelist. And what a life! Alex Dumas, as he preferred to be known, was born in Saint Domingue, later Haiti, the son of a black slave and a good-for-nothing French aristocrat who came to the islands to make a quick killing and instead barely survived. In fact, to get back to France in order to claim an inheritance, he actually "pawned" his black son into slavery, but then he bought him out, brought him to Paris, and enrolled him in the royal fencing academy, and then the story begins to get interesting.

What really stuck with me from reading the memoir was the love that shows through from the son, the writer, for his father, the soldier. I could never forget the novelist describing the day his father died. His mother met him on the stairs in their house, lugging his father's gun over his shoulders, and asked him what he was doing. Little Alexandre replied: "I'm going to heaven to kill God – for killing daddy." When he grew up, he took a greater sort of revenge, infusing his father's life and spirit into fictional characters like Edmond Dantes and D'Artagnan, with shades of Porthos, too. But the image of the angry child stuck with me and drove me onward to discover every scrap of evidence I could about his forgotten father.

And recovering the life of the real man behind these stories was the ultimate historical prospecting journey for me: I learned about Maltese knights and Mameluke warriors, the tricks of 18th-century spycraft and glacier warfare, torchlight duels in the trenches and portable guillotines on the front; I got to know about how Commedia del Arte influenced Voodoo and how a Jacobin sultan influenced the Star-Spangled Banner, about chocolate cures for poisoning and the still brisk trade in Napoleonic hair clippings. I discovered the amazing forgotten civil rights movement of the 18th century – and its unraveling – though the most amazing thing about this story of a black man in a white world was how little race stood in his way: how Alex Dumas's future father-in-law never once questioned his daughter marrying a man of color but only asked that he get promoted to sergeant first (later he lovingly referred to his son-in-law simply as "the General").

Finally, the memoir set me not only on a historical adventure but on an adventure in the present day that was straight out of a Dumas novel. I began by visiting the gray town in northeast France where the general died – where I found a dead museum secretary, a locked safe, and a host of unlikely, inspiring characters to make my journey a far from lonely one.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:43 -0400)

In this extraordinary biography, Tom Reiss traces the almost unbelievable life of the man who inspired not only Monte Cristo, but all three of the Musketeers: the novelist's own father.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
187 wanted4 pay3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.08)
1 2
2.5 1
3 28
3.5 16
4 82
4.5 22
5 48


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The Black Count by Tom Reiss was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 109,813,361 books! | Top bar: Always visible