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Brave Enemies: A Novel of the American Revolution

Brave Enemies: A Novel of the American Revolution

4.0 10
by Robert Morgan, S. Ravenel (Editor)

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As the War for Independence wore on into the 1780s, unrest ruled the Carolinas. Settlers who had cleared the land after the Cherokees withdrew were being mustered for battle as British forces pillaged their hard-won farms. Robert Morgan's stunning novel tells a story of two people caught in the chaos raging in the wilderness.

After sixteen-year-old Josie


As the War for Independence wore on into the 1780s, unrest ruled the Carolinas. Settlers who had cleared the land after the Cherokees withdrew were being mustered for battle as British forces pillaged their hard-won farms. Robert Morgan's stunning novel tells a story of two people caught in the chaos raging in the wilderness.

After sixteen-year-old Josie Summers murders her abusive stepfather, she runs away from home disguised as a boy. Lost in the woods, she accepts a young preacher's invitation to assist in his itinerant ministry. Eventually her identity is revealed and affection grows between the two. But when the preacher is kidnapped by British soldiers, Josie disguises herself once again and joins the militia in a desperate attempt to find him.

Brave Enemies is a page-turning story of people brought together by chance and torn apart by war—a story of enduring love and of the struggle to build a homeland.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Robert Morgan's new novel, Brave Enemies, though written for adults, evokes the same chipper universe of … children's biographies. In that vein, it might have been called ''Josie Summers: Cross-Dressing Heroine of the American Revolution.'' Although very bad things occur in this book -- limbs and heads are lopped off with the ease of a cantaloupe being sundered for breakfast -- the principal characters wander through the 18th-century wilderness of western North and South Carolina as innocents, ticketed from the start for deliverance, bloodsoaked though they may be. — Will Blythe
Publishers Weekly
With tremendous narrative pace, a meticulous eye for colorful detail and a tight grasp of historical setting and military action, poet and novelist Morgan (Gap Creek) delivers a rousing and affecting tale of the American Revolution. This gripping story of love and desperation is set in the brutal rebel-versus-loyalist bloodbath of 1780-1781 in North and South Carolina. Sixteen-year-old Josie Summers, a barefoot mountain girl, runs away from home after killing the stepfather who raped her. Alone, scared and hungry, having witnessed all kinds of violence, Josie disguises herself as a boy and is given shelter by an itinerant preacher, Rev. John Trethman. The preacher soon discovers her deception, but they become devoted to one another, and John marries her in a solitary ceremony. The two continue the deception to fool his congregation and the British authorities who are ruthlessly hunting for spies and seditionists. When John is taken prisoner by the British, who think he is a spy, Josie, now pregnant, believes her husband is dead. Still disguised as the boy Joseph, she joins a South Carolina militia company marching to the fateful battle at Cowpens in January 1781. Josie endures hunger, cold, grief, fear of discovery and the dangerous attentions of a cruel sergeant who guesses her secret. Meanwhile, John is forced to become a chaplain for the murderous dragoon legion commanded by sadistic Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton and his Tories are also marching to Cowpens, to a battle which will become known as the American Cannae. Morgan's portrayal of the savagery of the Southern war is graphic and shocking, making the love between Josie and John all the more tender and passionate. 15-city author tour. (Oct. 10) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The publishers may not have intended this book specifically for a YA audience, but the reality is that it is an excellent novel for YAs, and one that teachers will want to consider as a curriculum choice. The main character, Josie, is a 16-year-old girl living in the Carolinas during the chaos of the Revolutionary War. Her story is one of nonstop action, told in spare, utterly captivating prose. Josie is raped by her brutal stepfather (a Loyalist sympathizer); she murders him, disguises herself as a boy by cutting her hair and wearing the stepfather's clothes, and runs away in a panic. Hungry and guilt-ridden, she takes refuge in a country church, introducing herself as "Joseph," and the young preacher offers her shelter. The preacher, John, starts his own narrative account of their relationship and what befalls them, alternating with Josie's narrative. For weeks the two are companions, as John says, "like Paul and Silas," until the day he discovers his companion is actually a girl. A complicated marriage follows. While they are visiting the little country churches of John's ministry, the couple see firsthand the violence all around them: neighbor betraying neighbor-Loyalists attacking Patriots, Patriots attacking Loyalists-lynching, rape, torture, suspicion everywhere. John carefully tries to keep neutral as long as he possibly can, but eventually he is arrested by the Loyalists, accused of spying. In her boy disguise, Josie joins a group of Carolina militiamen. Ultimately, John and Josie end up in opposing camps at the Battle of Cowpens. Morgan uses all his descriptive skills to make that horrific battle real (and historically accurate) for modern-day readers. There are many violentscenes, disturbing scenes. There is the rape, and there are scenes of loving, sexual bliss between John and Josie. There are numerous earthy references to bodily functions. Yet, amazingly, perhaps because of Morgan's unique descriptions, concrete words often used poetically (Morgan is a poet as well as a novelist), what we have here as far as YAs are concerned is more of a PG-13 rating than an R, and the result is an outstanding novel, ideal for older YAs. Here are some of the moral questions Josie and John agonize over: the meaning of patriotism and the use of violence; an individual's search for his or her own answers about right and wrong; judgment and forgiveness, including forgiving and accepting oneself. KLIATT Codes: SA*-Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Algonquin Books, Workman, 309p. map., Ages 15 to adult.
— Claire Rosser
Sixteen-year-old Josie Summers is on the run. She has murdered her sexually abusing stepfather, has stolen his clothes to pose as a boy, and is running to escape her crime and her mentally unstable mother. She passes fires that she knows were set by the rebels against those suspected of being loyal to the king. She fears panthers and bears in the thick North Carolina woods. When she meets Reverend John Trethman, he invites her as the boy he knows as Joseph to travel with him. They journey together for some time before Josie's secret is revealed, and although John's initial reaction is a feeling of betrayal, he realizes that he loves Josie, and he officiates in their own marriage ceremony in his cabin. Josie becomes pregnant, but the war separates the couple. Disguised again as a boy, Josie fights for the Patriots so she can search for John. She is wounded, and fearing for her life and the life of the baby she carries, she fights valiantly to stay alive to find John and reunite her family. Morgan's last novel, Gap Creek (Algonquin, 2000), received critical acclaim, and this book should receive a similar response. The love story between Josie and John will appeal to better readers who crave romance, and the story of the Revolutionary War will appeal to military buffs because of Morgan's skill in detailing the Battle of Cowpens. This book is not for the slow or reluctant reader, but those searching for a challenging book of historical fiction will appreciate Morgan's attention to and knowledge of his topic. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketedbook recommended for Young Adults). 2003, Algonquin, 320p., Ages 15 to Adult.
—Lynn Evarts
Library Journal
Morgan's (Gap Creek) latest novel, set in his native North Carolina, tells the compelling story of two young people whose lives are shaped by the Revolutionary War. Josie Summers is only 16 when she is raped by her stepfather and rejected by her unbalanced mother. After killing her stepfather, Josie disguises herself as a boy and runs away. Lost in the woods, she stumbles upon a church and is befriended by the young Rev. John Trethman. Josie keeps her true identity concealed while living with John, but when he discovers that she is a girl, he marries her to avoid scandal. Not long after, John is seized by British soldiers, and Josie again dresses as a man and joins the North Carolina militia to avoid being hanged as a spy. Told in alternating first-person segments, John and Josie's story is one of perseverance and determination. Morgan's background as a poet is evident in the graceful language and luminous description of the countryside and in the introspectiveness and humanity of his characters. Though the horrors of battle are explicitly conveyed, the reader is left with hope for the future. Recommended for most historical fiction collections.-Ann Fleury, Tampa-Hillsborough P.L., FL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Disguised as a boy, the 16-year-old wife of a Methodist circuit rider sees action in the 1781 revolutionary battle at Cowpens. How the lass comes to be toting a rifle is the bulk of southern specialist Morgan's (This Rock, 2001, etc.) latest bit of Carolina history, which opens and closes with scenes from that pivotal battle. Having driven an axe into the skull of the creepy stepfather who raped her, teenager Josie Summers has thought it best to flee her mother's Carolina homestead. Disguised in her stepfather's clothes and with her pretty hair hacked off, Josie stumbles off into the dark and roadless colonial interior with no plan other than to put some distance between herself and the crime scene. After days of fearful and freezing travel, she stumbles into a church and warms to the spiritual glow spread by the Reverend John Trethman, an unusually well-educated frontier clergyman. Hitherto unchurched and largely skeptical, Josie is attracted both to Trethman's message of salvation and to his charisma, and, with no other plans, she is happy to follow in his circuit, becoming his assistant. Fooled by the disguise, Trethman is happy to have such a bright lad to assist in the services, but their travel from church to church has led the King's forces to suspect the minister of espionage, and the couple begin to receive warnings from the edgy settlers. Trethman's inevitable discovery of Josie's true gender leads first to some surprisingly steamy frontier sex and then to a self-administered wedding. Before the two can figure out how to break the news to the congregations, Trethman is badly burned in a forest fire and then captured by the redcoats, and Josie has to hit the road, where she'll beswept up into the colonial army. Grim but interesting history, with excellent battle scenes. Author tour
New York Times Book Review
"At their finest, his stripped-down and almost primitive sentences burn with the raw, lonesome pathos of Hank Williams' best songs.
New York Times Book Review
Christian Science Monitor
"Readers of Morgan's Brave Enemies . . . are unlikely ever to take their eyes off the page—or even take a breath."—The Christian Science Monitor
Entertainment Weekly
"With a plot that tears through the Carolina underbrush like a spooked rabbit, Morgan's novel of the American Revolution traces the gender-switching drama of Josie Summers, a pioneer girl raised in the same hardscrabble landscape of his 1999 bestseller, Gap Creek."—Entertainment Weekly
From the Publisher

"With a plot that tears through the Carolina underbrush like a spooked rabbit, Morgan's novel of the American Revolution traces the gender-switching drama of Josie Summers, a pioneer girl raised in the same hardscrabble landscape of his 1999 bestseller, Gap Creek."—Entertainment Weekly

Product Details

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.09(d)

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Meet the Author

ROBERT MORGAN is the author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, most notably his novel Gap Creek and his biography of Daniel Boone, both of which were national bestsellers. A professor at Cornell University since 1971 and visiting writer-in-residence at half a dozen universities, his awards include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2010. Find him online at www.robert-morgan.com.

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Brave Enemies: A Novel of the American Revolution 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Robert Morgans books and while I enjoyed them all, I hate the way he ends them. This book was the worst so far. He just leaves you hanging at the end and your not sure what happened.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Overall I thought this was a pretty good book, but the ending leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. I liked the historical part of it and how it seemed to hold true with what I have learned about that time period, but....like I said......the ending kind of leaves you hanging.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a really good book over-all, however the ending did leave me wanting more. This was a definate page turner. I finished it in less than 2 days. I really enjoyed Josie's character. She was a very strong woman in a time when a woman with stregnth was looked down apon. She was so well-written that it was not hard for me to think of her as very, very real. The love story was also well-written. I really felt for these conflicted, flawed people who found each other and chose to love and follow God in a time where hate was the reigning emotion in the society they lived in. Also, the battle scenes were full of suspence and kept those pages turning. The only negative thing that I can say is that there should've been an epilogue answering some questions that the reader so desperatly wants answered. If there is ever a sequal, I would be the first in line to buy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert Morgan succeeds in bringing the reader to the past in this engaging novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just picked this book out as one of the books I was going to read on vaction. The problem is that it never made withme on my trip to the Gulf. I finished the book in two days. Because I could not put it down. I am not one who would read a love story. I got the book because of the Battle of Cowpens. I found the love story between Josie and John was my favoir part of the book. I do not what to give anything away. This book gives us many gifts. Robert Morgan gives us poetly, history, and gripping story of love. As well as a taste of the South during the Revolution. I hope Mr. Morgan will write his next book with Joise and John picking up where we last see them. A great book that you well be glad you read. It will warm your heart to the very end
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