On my bookshelf I have The Black Count: glory, revolution, betrayal, and the real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. I have a thing about Alexandre Dumas (père), but this book is about his father, who we will recognize as the prototype of many of Dumas’ heroes. This very accessible history reads most like a novel. Along the way you will learn about sugar production in the French West Indies, early efforts to challenge slavery in the land of liberté, and the lives of gens de couleur libres in 18th century Paris. A must for Dumas fans – check it out!
Next to the The Black Count on my nightstand is Cleopatra: a life by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff. If you’re like me and like to read about the lives of women in history, this one is a winner. Like The Black Count, Schiff’s book is as satisfying as a novel. While writers from Plutarch to Shakespeare have their take on Cleopatra, Schiff gives us a fresh analysis of this often misunderstood monarch of the ancient world. In short, Cleopatra was born to rule. Beautifully educated, charismatic, a polyglot with a gift for statecraft, she presided over fabulously wealthy Egypt and the most cosmopolitan city of the ancient word, Alexandria.
Submitted by Marie Aquanette