Alexandre Dumas wrote the novels “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers” both of which were inspired by his father Alex Dumas. The product of an aristocrat white father and a black slave mother, he was brought to France as a young boy where he was educated and received benefits in society that allowed him to thrive. Joining the French army just before the French Revolution, he shot up through the ranks as he distinguished himself in hard fought battles both military and political. Napoleon’s doomed expedition to conquer Egypt brought more military honors and victories to Dumas thus solidifying his stature as one of the army’s best generals. Always fearful of Dumas because of his popularity, Napoleon abandoned his army after Nelson’s naval victory and fled back to France leaving Dumas to fend for himself.
— Richard Stonehouse
Truth can be stranger than fiction. Much of The Count of Monte Cristo and The
Three Musketeers were inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ father, General Alex
Dumas. Born on the isle of Haiti to a
black slave and an amoral French aristocrat father, Alex’s rise was most
unexpected. He rose to be a General in
the French Army, a brilliant tactician and a man well respected by his troops.
Swaggering, handsome, fearless and principled, he was a thorn in Napoleon’s
side. Napoleon did not like rivals, if
you were to choose an enemy, he should be avoided. His life reads like a story from one of his
WINNER OF THE 2013 PULITZER PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY
General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today, yet his story is strikingly familiar--because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used his larger-than-life feats as inspiration for such classics as "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "The Three Musketeers."
But, hidden behind General Dumas's swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: he was the son of a black slave--who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.
Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas made his way to Paris, where he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution--until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.
"TIME" magazine called "The Black Count" "one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that sheds light on the historical moment that made it possible." It is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.
About the Author
TOM REISS is the author of the international bestseller "The Orientalist." He lives in New York City.