‘The Black Count,’ A Hero On The Field, And The Page

‘The Black Count,’ A Hero On The Field, And The Page

Weekend Edition Saturday
National Public Radio

Scott Simon, Host

Tom Reiss, Author

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal,and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. By Tom Reiss, 432 pp. Crown Publishers. Hardback ISBN: 978-0-307-38246-7.

Gen. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas was one of the heroes of the French Revolution — but you won’t find a statue of him in Paris today.

He led armies of thousands in triumph through treacherous territory, from the snows of the Alps to the sands of Egypt, and his true life stories inspired his son, Alexandre Dumas, to write The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

How did the son of a Haitian slave and a French nobleman become Napoleon’s leading swordsman of the Revolution, then a prisoner, and finally almost forgotten — except in the stories of a son who was not even 4 years old when his father died?

“I like to think of him as history’s ultimate underdog,” says author Tom Reiss. His new book, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, uncovers the real life that inspired so many fictional heroes.

“He’s a black man, born into slavery, and then he rises higher than any black man rose in a white society before our own time,” Reiss tells NPR’s Scott Simon. “He became a four-star general and challenges Napoleon, and he did it all 200 years ago, at the height of slavery.”…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview (00:06:56) here.

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