Dumas later wrote an account of his imprisonment that would form the basis for his son’s celebrated novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.
The Nazis destroyed the statue of the Black Count during World War II, leaving no current monument in France to one of its great heroes. In an ironic and bitter denouement, Reiss notes that a determined historian attempted to create a new memorial for Dumas, but the effort was hijacked in the spirit of racial political correctness and devolved into a monument for all French slaves. What was to have been a celebration of great valor became a tribute to victimhood in the form of a giant pair of shackles.
Once again, French radicals denied Alex Dumas his rightful glory.
The Black Count is a fascinating and compelling read, though not as novelistic as many recent bestselling historical biographies. A meticulous researcher and historian, Reiss takes far less literary license than has become the norm. This leaves his subject still shrouded in mystery and somewhat remote.
However, history buffs will devour this unique look at a turbulent and violent time in European history, and its lessons about radicals and revolution still apply today.
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