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

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo - Tom Reiss Fascinating. Just amazing. The story behind the black count is unbelievable. And the story-telling is masterful. Definitely the best history book I've read in a long while.

I liked the layers of research in this biography. Certainly lots of French military history around the time of the revolution came from several sources, and Reiss interacts well with his material, staying out of it for the most part but making a few comments here and there. But the best resource is, of course, the biography of General Dumas by his son, the author Alexandre Dumas. The author was 4 years old when his father died, and the biography he wrote of his father is part fact and part fiction. So Reiss can take us back and present us with the incomplete facts and present us with the story and guess at what's true and what isn't. But between the history itself, the story version of it by the son, and the sleuthing by Reiss, we've got a great book.

Most of what I've learned about the French revolution prior to this book (which is not much) focuses on Paris and the guillotine. I was vaguely aware that battles were taking place, but didn't know much about them. Reiss filled me in, but managed to do it without getting bogged down in military strategy, focusing on the personalities of the principals.

In short, I loved this book. It's a slice history, and of racial history in Europe especially, that I was unaware of. Reiss treats is with the respect it deserves.