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Cover shows a young Thomas-Alexandre Dumas on a rearing horse. In the background is a ship on a turbulent ocean.

by Catherine Johnson

with b&w illustrations by Rachel Sanson


Named by Letterbox Library as ‘UK Doyenne of Historical Middle Grade’, Catherine Johnson continues to flaunt her knack for sifting through source material to extract the nuggets which will engage and recruit young history detectives. This pacy narrative uncovers the life of the little known Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, son of a French nobleman and an enslaved woman, Marie-Cessette Dumas . Born in to slavery in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), Johnson imagines Dumas’ life as his father takes him back to him own homeland, France, for his education. From here, Dumas’ hugely successful military career, largely in the French Revolutionary Wars, is born. The mini novella culminates with Dumas, in 1794, opening up the Alpine passes, a critical manoeuvre for France’s ongoing campaign. An afterword summarises his later life which included coming up against a jealous young Napoleon Bonaparte and becoming a dad to the arguably more famous Dumas: Alexandre, the French novelist who penned The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Thomas Dumas’s legacy stands firm as the highest ranking man of African descent in a European army. For an excellent collection of young readers’ reviews of this title, visit The Historical Association here:,history%20and%20war%2Dbased%20books.&text=Ashley's%20review-,To%20Liberty!,understanding%20the%20meaning%20of%20freedom.

Catherine Johnson’s awards include winner of the 2014 Young Quills Award for best historical fiction (for Sawbones) and winner of the 2019 Little Rebels Award (for Freedom). ‘I really enjoyed this. Lots of historical information told in an appealing and accessible way- would surely be a welcome addition to school libraries’ (Jayne, Inclusion Manager, Letterbox Library reviewer). Age 9-12, Paperback 91pp


Themes: Black History 


SKU: 3318
£6.99 Regular Price
£6.29Sale Price
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