Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo – a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero 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 was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East – until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.


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Part history, part biography, part literary mystery story, THE ORIENTALIST traces the true story of a Jew who transformed himself into a Muslim prince and became a best-selling author in Nazi Germany.

Lev Nussimbaum escaped the Russian Revolution in a camel caravan and, arriving in 1920s Germany via Persia and Paris, transformed himself from a frightened teenaged refugee into a celebrated adventurer and international man of mystery. In the age of Rudolf Valentino and Lawrence of Arabia, Lev became famous as “Essad Bey,” man of the East, and later, as the Nazi spell fell over Europe, as “Kurban Said,” the name under which he penned the enduring novel Ali and Nino.  But his success shielded a fatal secret.

A racial and religious cross-dresser at a time when such quantities were as fixed as a death sentence, Lev changed his identity so many times in his race to escape his pursuers that he eventually became a mystery to himself.  And the Gestapo was closing in…

Beginning with a year-long investigation that appeared in The New Yorker, Tom Reiss pursued Nussimbaum’s path across ten countries, from Baku to Berlin to Hollywood, and found himself caught up in encounters as dramatic and surreal—and sometimes as heartbreaking—as his subject’s life.  



The Black Count

Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo – a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

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About Tom Reiss

TOM REISS is the author of the celebrated international bestseller The Orientalist. His biographical pieces have appeared The New Yorker, The New York Times and other publications. He lives with his wife and daughters in New York City.