Thursday, October 11, 2012

For Fans of The Three Musketeers

Book Review: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

As a student of history, and a fan of the writings of Alexandre Dumas, I had high expectations for The Black Count. I'm happy to report that author Tom Reiss (The Orientalist) did not disappoint.

The latter half of the 18th century was a time of political turmoil, with long-seated governments overthrown, and wide-ranging changes made to the established order. These heroic times bred heroic men; Alex Dumas was just such a man. Physically imposing, a skilled swordsman and horseman, he was the epitome of a man of the age. There was just one problem - although his father was a French aristocrat, his mother was a black slave.

Tom Reiss manages to tie together the real-life character of Alex Dumas and the literary characters of his son's novels, set against the background of the years leading up to and through the French Revolution. Instead of a dry recitation of European history, we are treated to the living and breathing adventures of a truly larger-than-life officer and gentleman. The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers may have been fiction, but it is easy the see where Alexandre Dumas took his inspiration - the real life story of his father.