Alexandre Dumas is famous for writing The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, but his father’s life was in its way as epic as either of those books. He was the son of a minor French nobleman and a Haitian woman, and he became famous early on for his physical strength, good looks and astounding courage under fire. In the relatively racially liberated climate of the French Revolution, Dumas rose to the rank of Brigadier General under Napoleon, only to be imprisoned by monarchists, which led to his early death. Tom Reiss wrings plenty of drama and swashbuckling action out of Dumas’ strange and nearly forgotten life, and more: The Black Count is one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that also sheds light on the flukey historical moment that made it possible.
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