A Book Review | The Black Count by Tom Reiss

The Black Count by David Reiss Book Review

I am happy to get one of my books on my resolution list checked off already. This was the only non-fiction book among the bunch, and I am really glad I started out with it. The Black Count details the true life of Alexandre Dumas’s father – Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, who was the real life inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo.

It is worth noting that Alexandre Dumas has his own autobiography in which he talks about many of his own inspirations – this autobiography is quoted often in The Black Count – and while most of Alexandre Dumas’s writings seems to be accurate, there do seem to be some accounts that do not match quite perfectly with what Reiss uncovered… which makes The Black Count even better, as it clearly aims for total accuracy and tries to stay away from Dumas’s own natural bias.

The Good:

The history ties in beautifully with the novel, keeping it both interesting and very readable. I feel I learned a lot about France, including its political and societal climate before, during, and after the French Revolution. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas’s story is also nothing short of incredible, which really makes for an entertaining read.

The humanity that is showcased in the novel is just wonderful. I mean humanity in both aspects – the astounding goodness of people and the astonishing cruelty of people. It was a balanced mix as no one person is represented as totally evil or a complete hero, but instead every individual is portrayed as humanly as possible and treated with respect by Reiss’s account.

The Bad:

I honestly cannot find a single negative aspect of this work of non-fiction. The story was fascinating, and I learned quite a lot – two things that nearly every non-fiction book strives for. This one succeeded beautifully.

The Verdict:

Read: Even if history has never been your thing, I still think you should give this non-fiction work a try. I am not a huge non-fiction reader, but I found this to have the perfect balance of story telling, accuracy, character, and history.

Additional note: If you love any of the works by Alexander Dumas, you absolutely need to read this book.


Written by Rachel B.

Rachel is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She works as a Content Creation Specialist. Presently, she writes, reads, and then reads and writes some more, with a giant and ever-present mug of green tea in her hand. Follow Rachel @rrbindl and DNFB @not4birds

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