RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewBiographers usually tell the life story of a person with strong name recognition. It’s much harder to pull off the story of those who are largely forgotten. Few people today are likely to recognize Count Robert de Montesquiou, or Dr. Samuel Jean Pozzi, two of the principal figures in The Man in the Red Coat. Yet Julian Barnes succeeds brilliantly in bringing them to life ... Pozzi is the main character, but only intermittently, for Barnes’s achievement is to retrace the crossing and recrossing paths of dozens of individuals in a milieu that was once ostentatiously up-to-date ... The book is a pleasure to read in every way. Barnes writes with elegance and wit, probes motives with a novelist’s imagination but also a historian’s skepticism, plucking memorable formulations — enhanced by his own deft translations — from letters, journals and newspaper squibs.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...a richly imaginative biography ... Despite Reiss’s extensive research, the count remains a somewhat remote figure, since his contemporaries usually described him in conventional superlatives ... Reiss’s narrative of the campaign is especially spirited, and along the way he treats us to a wealth of incidental information, for instance about the Mameluke warriors who came to Egypt from the Caucasus and bequeathed pale skin and blue eyes to some Egyptian families ... That Alexandre was a figure of vast appetite and incredible energy, but thanks to Reiss we now know that Dumas grandpère was even more interesting.