A slave rises up the ranks to become one of the most formidable and powerful military leaders in French history. He takes on Napoleon, is exiled to a dungeon and ends his life penniless — in short, a great, tragic legend of history. Or so you’d think.
Instead, Alex Dumas, a man whose foes called “The Black Devil,” has been largely lost in obscurity — though his life story and his last name sound so familiar, you probably think you’ve heard them before.
And if you’ve read “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers,” you have. Because Alex’s son, Alexandre Dumas, gave his father uncredited starring roles in some of the most famous swashbuckling adventures in all of literature.
Journalist Tom Reiss was inspired to find the man behind the legend after reading a passage in Alexandre Dumas’ memoirs that spoke about the moment as a 4-year-old boy that he heard his father had died.
The Black Count
Betrayal, and the Real
Count of Monte Cristo
by Tom Reiss
Book review by SUSANNAH CAHALAN