“A remarkable novel” (The New York Times) about America’s first female soldier, Deborah Sampson Gannett, who ran away from home in 1782, successfully disguised herself as a man, and fought valiantly in the Revolutionary War.
At a time when rigid societal norms seemed absolute, Deborah Sampson risked everything in search of something better. Revolutionary, Alex Myers’s richly imagined and carefully researched debut novel, tells the story of a fierce-tempered young woman turned celebrated solider and the remarkable courage, hope, fear, and heartbreak that shaped her odyssey during the birth of a nation.
After years of indentured servitude in a sleepy Massachusetts town, Deborah chafes under the oppression of colonial society and cannot always hide her discontent. When a sudden crisis forces her hand, she decides to escape the only way she can, rejecting her place in the community in favor of the perilous unknown. Cutting her hair, binding her chest, and donning men’s clothes stolen from a neighbor, Deborah sheds her name and her home, beginning her identity-shaking transformation into the imaginary “Robert Shurtliff”—a desperate and dangerous masquerade that grows more serious when “Robert” joins the Continental Army.
What follows is a journey through America’s War of Independence like no other—an unlikely march through cold winters across bloody battlefields, the nightmare of combat and the cruelty of betrayal, the elation of true love and the tragedy of heartbreak. As The Boston Globe raves, “Revolutionary succeeds on a number of levels, as a great historical-military adventure story, as an exploration of gender identity, and as a page-turning description of the fascinating life of the revolutionary Deborah Sampson.”
Alex Myers is a writer, teacher, speaker, and activist. Since high school, Alex has campaigned for transgender rights. As a female-to-male transgender person, Alex began his transition at Phillips Exeter Academy and was the first transgender student in that academy’s history. Alex was also the first openly transgender student at Harvard and worked to change the university’s nondiscrimination clause to include gender identity. For the past decade, he has taught English at private high schools and currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and two cats.
Revolutionary 3.3 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Goodreads provided me with a copy of Revolutionary by Alex Myers. It was very engrossing and interesting throughout as it explored women's rights and gender identity through the experiences of Deborah Samson aka Robert Shurtliff as she assumed the persona of a male in order to feel whole, and joined the United States Army during the Revolutionary War. Gender roles and how women are treated by society as a whole are explored in this work of historical fiction. It seems we have come a long way since the founding of the U.S.A., but the story is just as timely today as then. I also enjoyed reading the author's bio and found just as much courage there as in the protagonist. Alex Myers has given us great work here, but the world is waiting for more. Love is love.
More than 1 year ago
Deborah Samson is a local hero and taught in third grade in my town. So i was expecting some new insight on this character. I also thought the transgender pony of view would be more thought provoking. However, I found the book to be written more on a middle school level than an adult one; the premise was a good one but not well developed. In spite of this, the book did make for an interesting Book Club discussion.
More than 1 year ago
Revolutionary is a real gem; it will make readers as well as historians look at the Revolutionary War in an entirely new light.
Beginning in Massachusetts in 1782, Deborah Samson is a young woman looking for adventure. On her own, she has left her church, her very good friend, Jennie, and no longer wants to wait on (or, as they called it in this small Massachusetts village), ‘serve’ men who disrespect her and all of her gender. She wants to join the Army and serve her country.
Deborah starts out on her new adventure. Cutting her long hair, she dresses in boy’s clothing to enlist in the Continental Army in order to fight for her freedom. Changing her name to Robert Shurtliff, Deborah joins the Army and takes up the job of caretaker for the horses. Deborah eats beans gladly, because they’re better than what she’s used to, and prays to the Lord that she can keep her scheme up and be able to do her job as a boy in the Army. With her mind set, she and her cohorts set off for West Point, marching to a drummer’s beat.
Deborah turns out to be a brave soldier under fire; some of her fellow soldiers make remarks like; “Good Man” and “Someday, you’ll make someone a fine husband.” In other words, the illusion is working. After being wounded, Deborah is taken to the Army Hospital in Philadelphia and then on to the home of Dr. Barnabas Binney to recuperate. Dr. Binney assures Deborah that even though he knows she’s a woman, it will remain their secret. However, when Deborah is well enough to leave the doctor’s home he gives her a letter to give to her commanding officer stating that she is a woman; he tells her, “The letter is for your commander, it declares who you are and I leave it up to you as to what you want to do. One should never be ashamed of their true nature and there are worse ways the General could find out than from your own hand.”
Deciding to leave the Army as Robert Shurtliff, she does hand the letter to the General and tells him her story, hoping that – in the end – he will come to terms with her situation and why she chose to do what she did.
Based on a true story, the tale of a woman living and doing the work of a man, Deborah is actually a distant relative of the author. Very much an in-depth story of the Revolutionary War, the research done by the author is an excellent account of both history and the lives of the people who lived through it.
Quill says: In the 21st Century, Deborah’s story is a true battle for identity; proving to one and all that gender is not, and never should be, the foundation for honor and heroism.
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