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The Black Count    by Tom Reiss order for
Black Count
by Tom Reiss
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

'The story of General Dumas 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, ending a near-universal discrimination that had persisted since ancient times,' writes Tom Reiss in the prologue to The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and The Real Count of Monte Cristo.

Drawing upon letters, battlefield accounts, a prison diary and other documents, this work of narrative nonfiction is a combination biography and adventure story set in the late eighteenth century.

General Alex Dumas rose to command armies but his triumphs and final betrayal have been all but forgotten. The product of the union between a slave woman and a fugitive white French nobleman in what is today Haiti, Alex Dumas eventually made his way to France where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the country's aristocracy.

Joining the army when the revolution broke out, Dumas had an illustrious career and eventually he commanded a force of more than 50,000 soldiers. A man who lived by his sword and was known for his boldness under stress, Dumas was on his way home from conquering Egypt when he was captured by a mysterious enemy and spent time in jail. After two years the general escaped but that just marked the beginning spiral of his illustrious career.

Having a unique perspective of being from both the highest and lowest ranks of society, Dumas was an idealist and his fate 'foretold what would become of the ideals of equality and fraternity, especially for France's men and women of color'.

Although he may not be familiar to most readers, General Alex Dumas' exploits are chronicled in the fictional works The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo which were penned by his more famous son. Those who have read and enjoyed those two classic adventure stories will find this book a fascinating tale of the legacy of the man who provided the inspiration for these two exciting French novels.

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