July 4, 2013
I have just finished reading The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss. It won the Pulitzer in 2012. I started it on my trip to the American Alliance of Museums and finished it on the U.S. Independence Day, and well worth the time it took. The book covered many topics that help me appreciate all the more the system of governance that the American Revolution launched. The Black Count focuses on the life of Alexadre Dumas (1762-1806), father of the novelist who wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. The story takes you to three continents during tumultuous years and cover major themes of French colonization, slavery, the French Revolution, military exploits of a humanitarian, and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, a peer of The Black Count. The book emphasizes the oft quoted adage that “You can’t make this up.” Tom Reiss left few stones unturned as he spent the better part of a decade researching Dumas’ life. He relied on keepers of local records in small town saves and prominent urban archives. He went to the places Dumas went and “walked in his shoes.” He relied on amateur historians on all three continents to help him find the traces of a man who could have been the most powerful military figure in France if not for the rise of Bonaparte who wanted to erase Dumas from the planet. The Black Count tells a story of potential realized, but of how such potential can be snuffed out just as quickly as it emerged. A must read. It could help you prepare for a trip to Marseille, France, for the 17th Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Museums (AIMA), to be scheduled during Fall 2014. Visit the AIMA website for information as it becomes available (www.agriculturemuseums.org). Signing off from AIMA for now, and will get back to ALHFAM with future posts.