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Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Hardback

By (author) Tom Reiss

List price $31.33

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  • Publisher: HARVILL SECKER
  • Format: Hardback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 159mm x 234mm x 36mm | 672g
  • Publication date: 20 September 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1846556619
  • ISBN 13: 9781846556616
  • Illustrations note: Yes
  • Sales rank: 172,925

Product description

This title was the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Who was the real Count of Monte Cristo? 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. Born in St Dominigue in 1762, the son of a French nobleman and a sugar plantation slave, General Alexandre Dumas did not have an auspicious start in life. Things got worse when his father sold him into slavery to pay his passage back to Normandy. But six months later, Dumas' fortunes changed. His father bought him out of slavery and raised him in France, where Dumas went to the nation's finest schools and fencing academies, and having enrolled in the army became known as France's most handsome and strongest soldier. By the time Napoleon invaded Egypt, Dumas was his top cavalry commander. But Napoleon was threatened by the physical prowess and popularity of this black nobleman. He engineered his disgrace and imprisonment, and to please the sugar growers reintroduced slavery. A brief flowering of freedom and equality was over and forgotten, but Dumas' legacy would live on in the novels of the son who adored him. Reiss tells this tale with magisterial authority. Long years of research have led him across Europe, the Caribbean and the Middle East in search of forgotten documents. He has journeyed through the Alps where Dumas scaled unscalable ice cliffs. He has walked the streets of Cairo where Dumas' intrepid cavalry charge is still remembered. The result is an enthralling book that entertains, astounds and triumphantly resurrects a lost hero from the world's first multiracial society.

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Author information

Born in 1964, Tom Reiss is an American author and journalist who lives in New York. He is the author of The Orientalist, an acclaimed biography of Lev Nussimbaum (aka Kurban Said) which was shortlisted for the 2006 Samuel Johnson Prize.

Review quote

"Richly detailed, highly researched and completely absorbing... A triumph" -- Amanda Foreman "Totally thrilling... Brings to life one of history's great forgotten characters" -- Simon Sebag Montefiore "We believe we know the glories of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. We believe we understand the horror of slavery and the oppression of Africans. But what is the relationship between the grand goal of liberation and the deep tragedy of racism? As Reiss shows us, answers can be found in the extraordinary life of a forgotten French hero of the great revolutionary campaigns - a hero who was black" -- Timothy Snyder "Tom Reiss can do it all: gather startling research and write inspired prose; find life's great stories and then tell them with real brilliance. In The Black Count the master journalist-storyteller opens the door to the truth behind one of literature's most exciting stories, and opens it wide enough to show the delicate beauty of the lives within" -- Strauss, National Book Critics Circle Award winning author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng "A terrific story.(Reiss) is to be congratulated for retrieving such a splendid character from the dustbin of history" -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times