*GIVEAWAY!* The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

The Black Count by Tom ReissInvoke the name Alexandre Dumas, and one might inquire, père or fils? (Father or son?) Alexandre Dumas père was the novelist behind The Three Muskateers and The Count of Monte Cristo and his son, Alexandre Dumas fils, was also a writer and playwright.

There is another Alexandre Dumas, however. One who history has largely forgotten, though his story is truly the stuff of legend.

Forgotten until now.

Tom Reiss has recently published a soaring account of Dumas (the father of Alexandre Dumas père) in what is sure to become a definitive volume.

The Black Count is a tour-de-force, an ambitious and awe-inspiring tale of a man born into slavery who eventually rose to become a four-star general and a hero of the French Revolution.

Dumas’ audacious exploits in battle – including almost single-handedly pushing back the Austrians in the Battle of the Alps as well as commanding more than 50,000 men – would later inspire his son to write his famous books. So would Dumas’ years slowly being poisoned in an Italian prison after being captured; Napoleon ultimately betrayed the bravest of military men by letting him languish there and worse.

Author Tom Reiss (photo by Aventurina King 2008)

Epic biographies aren’t my usual reading fare, but this book may change all that. The Black Count was absolutely riveting, combining the thrills of a great adventure story with the concrete fact and context of the best historical work. I myself was in a battle between reading so quickly because I couldn’t wait to turn the next page and trying to slow down to absorb the enormous amount of information contained within. I literally felt I was learning something new on each page.

From France’s brutal slavery regime in Saint Domingue (now present day Haiti) where Dumas was born up through the French Revolution and Napoleon’s dreams of empire after, Reiss expertly takes us through a complicated, layered history to create a vivid portrait of the late 18th century. From the large scale issues of how Dumas, a mixed-race man, negotiated his life in a society whose rules regarding race were rapidly evolving, down to the smallest of details including why wearing black became fashionable in Paris, Reiss seems to have left no stone unturned.

If this weren’t all meticulously researched fact, it would be hard to believe such tales were true. I found myself gasping at much of what I read!

I am DELIGHTED to be able to offer a giveaway copy of The Black Count (courtesy of Crown Publishers) to one lucky reader so that you, too, may gasp.

Leave a comment below by 1 PM EST Friday, October 5 for your chance to win. I will randomly select a winner by drawing names out of a hat.

If you don’t win the copy, please do yourself a favor and pick up this book anyway. It was engrossing, illuminating, and a tiny bit heartbreaking. It’s always so wonderful when a book can crack open more of the world.

Read an excerpt from The Black Count here.

UPDATE! The name has been picked from the hat! Congratulations, William Sandles! Thank you to everyone who entered.

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105 Responses to “*GIVEAWAY!* The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo”


  1. 1 Ron Fox October 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Received an excellent review in the New York Times.

  2. 8 Leslie Duffy October 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Hi, Sion – I read another review of this book, and it does sound fascinating. Thanks for the enthusiastic recommendation!

  3. 12 patoudit October 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Yesterday, I spent all day reading (I finished this morning—but it wasn’t Reiss’ book). I haven’t done that in 2 years I think. And years ago, I remember that Dumas père’s “Comte de Monte Cristo” had kept me from sleeping. I’d love to spent another week-end reading his father’s story. Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. 15 Karene October 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I would love to win this for my son! He’s a junior in college majoring in History and French, and he’s fascinated by Dumas and his writings.

  5. 17 Amy Kortuem October 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I’m “between books” right now, and it’s a terrible place to be! Thanks for this recommendation.

  6. 19 dailyfrancofile October 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Great recommendation! I would love to read this book! Hope I win :-)

  7. 20 Mira October 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Enlightening information about Dumas.

  8. 21 Donald R. Lasher October 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    As an ex-general and of French/German descent, I am sure I would appreciate The Black Count.

  9. 22 Mem October 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    This book sounds marvelous! I lived for years on Avenue Dumas in Geneva.

  10. 24 Jennyphoria October 1, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    I’m always up for a new book suggestion. Thanks for this one!

  11. 26 Cassie October 1, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    I’ve loved Dumas’ works for a long time, and was intrigued by the little mentions of his father in the little biography sections that are usually at the front of his books. It was such a wonderful surprise that someone devoted the time and energy to unearthing the general’s story!

  12. 28 Nick October 1, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Sounds fantastic, Dumas (pere) is my favorite author!

  13. 30 sabrinaconnects October 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I would love to win a copy! Yes count me in..so to speak. :)

  14. 32 Mark Jacque October 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Im very intrigued, to read this, to see a real life counte well, that would be something.

  15. 34 michael damian jeter October 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I really want to read this book.

  16. 36 eparrish101 October 2, 2012 at 12:25 am

    I can’t wait to read about the man that my favorite book of all time is based off of!

  17. 37 Aisia Fletcher October 2, 2012 at 12:51 am

    I have added this to my book wish list and tweeted about and listened to it on the NY Times book podcast!

  18. 39 Vivian October 2, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Already on my TBR list, now I just need a copy to read (hint, hint).

  19. 41 Armenda Barnes October 2, 2012 at 2:23 am

    I look forward to reading! It sounds fascinating!

  20. 42 susanne rossignol October 2, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Hello! I am a fellow writer! Also, you seem to have a neat life! I am scheduled to move to Paris on a whim in January :)

  21. 44 Stanley Christopher Writer, Artist October 2, 2012 at 2:52 am

    AS a black kid growing up reading Dumas was one of my true literary heroes. Thank for doing the research and extending a treasured learning experience.

  22. 46 Scott Cumming October 2, 2012 at 3:53 am

    i devoured all of dumas pere’s novels in an attic in easthampton by kerosene lamp with borodin and Tchaikovsky in the background. i was 13 then and i wouldn’t be surprised if ten years later, twenty years after, the count of brageleon and all of the better know novels are responsible for me being such an incurable romantic. even if i don’t win this book i will find a way to get it. it’s just my cup of tea. scott cumming

  23. 48 Phil Bennett October 2, 2012 at 4:56 am

    I am a big fan of Alexander Dumas (pere) The 2001 movie with Jim Carviezel was also excellent. This is a book that I would love to read

  24. 50 Lisa B October 2, 2012 at 5:36 am

    I can hardly wait to read this book! Hope I win a copy.

  25. 51 Melisende October 2, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Tom, your book sounds rather interesting. Not long ago finished a tome on the real D’Artagnan – so this should be a gem also.

  26. 52 Annette Paterson October 2, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I am a huge fan of Dumas’ works. I love history and intrigue. Even if I were not to win, I would definitely buy this book.

  27. 53 paris (im)perfect October 2, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Thanks to everyone who has entered the drawing so far. It’s great hearing all of your stories. Lots of Dumas fans out there! You’ll enjoy learning about his father. a real-life adventure tale!

  28. 54 rhondawaller October 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    It should definitely go to ME. I am Dumas’ biggest fan — not in the fashion of Annie Wilkes, of course. However, I cannot guarantee that Dumas or Reiss could not end up tied to a full bed in my attic. I’m just sayin’.

  29. 56 Richaundra Patry October 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Oh, that would be wonderful!

  30. 57 Rob Walker October 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    i’ve been looking for a good story like this for a while. hopefully i’ll win.

  31. 58 Michelle Colson October 3, 2012 at 12:35 am

    I LOVE Dumas!! Could hardly put down The Three Musketeers (was in college and had homework!) and have read The Count of Monte Cristo several times. Look forward to reading this new work about his father’s real-life exploits.

  32. 59 topi lyambila October 3, 2012 at 2:12 am

    It is many years, but I grew up in times when reading was big, what with no computers, internet, Facebook,..libraries were the in-thing and books held some mystic reserve; The Count of Monte Christo was my first, then came Oliver twist, Tom sawyer, Hucklebury Finn, The three Musketeers (Athos, Pothos, Aramis and later D’Artagnan) and of course as teenage boy I could not help relating to these characters. Interestingly I have never connected The Count of Monte Christo and The Three Musketeers; I just saw them as individual heroes of their time. I am so going to read that book…

    • 60 rhondawaller October 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      I am sooo with you. There’s nothing like curling up with an “actual, physical” book. And no condensed versions!

    • 61 paris (im)perfect October 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      I’m trying to limit my computer time more (not really succeeding yet :) ) because I think you’re right that it has interfered with our attention spans. It’s really great seeing how many people want to read this book. There are still many of us readers out there! And my mom is a librarian so I still think libraries are an “in-thing” :)

  33. 64 Gerry Fortain October 3, 2012 at 2:28 am

    The Count of Monte Cristo is my all time favorite novel. I have had the pleasure of reading it four or five times over the last 35 years and it always leaves me with something good in my heart.
    I was never aware of Dumas family history until now. I look forward to reading The Black Count!

  34. 66 Tanya October 3, 2012 at 3:04 am

    Wow, who knew there were 2 swashbuckling black (multiracial) bada**ess in 18th century France?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mozart

    Even though Dumas was 15 years older, I wonder if they ever encountered one another? Oh, and yes I would love to win the book.

    • 67 paris (im)perfect October 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      I think he was actually mentioned in the book! Like I said, there was SO much information in The Black Count. I’ll check out more about the Black Mozart – fascinating! Thanks for the link!

      • 68 Tanya October 5, 2012 at 4:08 am

        You’re welcome! I actually FB’d Tom a message and he responded, telling me that indeed Boulogne is mentioned in the book. I won’t say how so as not to spoil it for anyone. But it’s pretty cool.

  35. 69 Carolyn Solares October 3, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Wow! Your ‘review’ is even riveting (and wonderfully written, as always). I’m completely intrigued. Merci!

  36. 71 Leah October 3, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Count of Monte Cristo was one of the most intriguing epics I read while growing up. And The Three Musketeers was really interesting To have a view of the beginning of the Alexandre Dumas family line would be worth all the effort.

  37. 72 Rachel Brooks October 3, 2012 at 5:08 am

    I loved The Three Musketeers, so it would be fascinating to read about the man who inspired such a great writer as Dumas!

  38. 73 Zuko Rockwell October 3, 2012 at 5:10 am

    I love Count of Monte Cristo so I am looking forward to this.
    Hope I win

  39. 74 Avery ERIN October 3, 2012 at 8:22 am

    In many ways I am the Count of Monte Cristo, I too long for freedom.

  40. 75 Melissa Hoyt October 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I want to win! I haven’t won a contest since I won Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” album off the radio! Vinyl record…
    I can’t wait to read this whether I win or not. I loved Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce in the Count movie. I had no idea it was based in truth!

  41. 76 Franck October 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Do you know the famous anecdote about Alexandre Dumas père during the party celebrating his new book release?

    • 77 paris (im)perfect October 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      I don’t know the anecdote. Care to share?

      • 78 Franck October 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm

        Dumas père, or more surely his publisher, gave a party to celebrate his last book release in a quite small room despite the large audience. Why such a small room, it is a part of the mystery I did not break so far ?Among the guests some of Alexandre’s best friends were invited and present (Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, small fry as you can judge!) BUT (Parisian life oblige!) some of Alexandre’s worse enemies were present also. One in particular, an openly racist literary critic who hated everything everytime about Dumas. At a given time Dumas and that… brillliant mind were back to back in the middle of the small room like a duel in reverse if I can dare this strange image. Alexandre was talking to Victor Hugo and Emile Zola when the poor fellow cried “nègre !” several time. Dumas turned back and said: “sir, your right, I am a quadroon, my father was a mulatto and my grandfather was a monkey. You see, monsieur, my family begins where yours is finishing”.

  42. 79 Jesse Morrow October 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorites to curl up with! Yet, I had no idea that it was based in some truth. I’m looking forward to reading this.

  43. 80 Harry October 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I’m a big fan of Dumas pere in general, and I love this period in history (particularly French-American-British relations). This looks like a truly illuminating book – great review, and I can’t wait to read it.

  44. 82 sbminisguyJohn Cunningham October 3, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    VERY interesting! I thought I was informed about Dumas, but obviously there was hole the size of a Big Rig I wasn’t aware of. Looking forward to reading this regardless of winning a free copy (but of course, that would be just grand!)

    • 83 paris (im)perfect October 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Indeed. After reading about *this* Dumas I wondered how in the heck we didn’t know about him before! There’s not even a statue of him in France and he did incredible things! Glad the story is being told now.

  45. 84 Mary Meyer October 3, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Tell the angel who will watch over your future destiny, Morrel, to pray sometimes for a man, who like Satan thought himself for an instant equal to God, but who now acknowledges with Christian humility that God alone possesses supreme power and infinite wisdom. -The Count of Monte Cristo

  46. 85 William Sandles October 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Sounds like a great read.

  47. 86 Max Stelmacker October 4, 2012 at 12:34 am

    What a perfect autumn give away! Someone is sure in for some splendid fall reading as surely as day time hours ebb away….good luck everyone!

  48. 87 Valerie J. October 4, 2012 at 4:01 am

    I’ve been a big fan of Alexandre Dumas, fils, for decades. I’d love to read this biography of his father.

  49. 88 NancyElizabeth October 4, 2012 at 5:02 am

    the count of monte cristo is absolutely incredible! i will never forget my first reading of it and how absorbed i became in the metamorphosis of edmond to the count and his struggle to be master of fates while ultimately nearly losing the struggle to control his own emotions and seemingly insatiable need for self imposed justice…. i can’t talk about this work enough and i’m excited to hear about “the black count”

  50. 89 Troy Horne October 4, 2012 at 6:20 am

    This book is amazing!! I am listening to it as we speak. I bought the audio book so that I could listen to it as I drive around town. So amazing! Thank you for writing it!

  51. 91 Derek Houser October 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book of all-time. I went to my local book store to pick up a copy of the Black Count but they did not have it in stock…fingers crossed

  52. 92 Sonja Rice October 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Pick me! Pick me!

  53. 93 Donna Pointer October 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Your review is excellent. The book sounds very interesting. Although your review says “Leave a comment below by 1 PM EST Friday, October 5″ this email was sent Monday, October 8th. That is after the deadline stated. Why send it out announcing a drawing (as well as the winner) after the deadline date? Here is the information from the header of the email:
    From: paris (im)perfect Subject: Weekly digest for October 8, 2012
    Date: October 8, 2012 2:48:50 AM EDT

    • 94 paris (im)perfect October 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Donna. Thanks for your kind words on the review.

      Which newsletter are you referring to? I didn’t even know I had a weekly digest! Is this for the Facebook page? I haven’t set up a weekly digest but I think FB might do that automatically. When you sign up for the emails here on my blog, I believe you’re only notified each time a new post is published. If that’s not the case, please let me know. If it’s Facebook, maybe you can turn off the weekly notifications?

      I posted the review on October 1 giving people 5 days to enter the giveaway. You’re right – it doesn’t make sense to send out an announcement afterward. But as I’ve said, I didn’t! Sorry for the inconvenience. If you have more information I’ll see if I can figure out where the weekly digest is coming from.

      • 95 Topi Lyambila October 11, 2012 at 4:36 am

        *Paris,* *Great exercise, however I have yet to receive the notification of who the winner was, I believe that for the records is essential..* * * *thank you for the effort* * * *regards* * * *topi*

      • 96 paris (im)perfect October 11, 2012 at 10:35 am

        Hi Topi. You’ll see that I updated the post with the winner’s name: William. I’m sorry everyone couldn’t win! Hope you still get a chance to read the book and enjoy!

  54. 97 Franck October 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I shared, Sion. Using my famous experimental English. You did not like my true story ? 19 posts above.

  55. 99 Claire 'Word by Word' October 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Utterly compelling, really enjoyed this book and I hope it inspires more people to learn abut the man and the books he inspired. Just wrote a review myself today and reading yours now, it feels remarkably similar :) I’m very tempted to read Georges.

  56. 101 Fabien October 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Discovered and began reading/enjoying ‘Black Count’ a few days ago.
    This is actually why I stumbled upon here in the first place.

    So much work to be done to shine a new light on the black heroes & characters of the pre/post revolutionary era.
    Alex Dumas is now covered, but (great) books in english are still lacking about Chevalier de Saint George, Delgrès, Toussaint Louverture…

    The latter was the subject of a 2-part tv movie on french public television earlier this year, but apart from that…
    Said TV movie is one of the only produced depiction of such characters on tv/cinema in the recent years.
    Far from perfect, took some liberties with the facts, no english subs on the french dvd if I’m not mistaken, but hey, since that’s the only moving picture remotely similar to the Black Count events/character recently made, that’s better than nothing…

    • 102 paris (im)perfect October 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      Maybe we can convince Tom Reiss to write those other books, too – he mentioned a few of them in The Black Count and he did such a great job with Alexandre Dumas :)

      • 103 Fabien October 26, 2012 at 1:44 am

        Great idea.
        Let’s go try to “convince” him, Annie Wilkes-style!

        That said, as I still got something up in the air -but on another medium- on the lesser known of the bunch, here’s hoping he doesn’t pick that one for his next book. :-/

        Anyway, the reception of ‘Black Count’ seems to be great so far, good for him.
        I knew nothing about Reiss until last week, but I’m gonna wait impatiently for his next books from now on, that’s for sure.

      • 104 paris (im)perfect October 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

        Oh, now I’m very intrigued. Bon courage for the project and let me know more about it when you’re able to!


  1. 1 *GIVEAWAY!* The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo « paris (im)perfect Trackback on October 1, 2012 at 11:40 am

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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