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Revolutionary Hardcover – January 14, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (January 14, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451663323
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451663327
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This deftly written debut historical novel from male transgender author Alex Myers follows a strong-willed young woman who takes a huge gamble and fights as a male soldier for the American colonists. Deborah Sampson is a 22-year-old indentured weaver who confides in her closest friend, Jennie Newcomb, about her desperate need to escape their oppressive small Massachusetts town. After surviving a sexual assault, Deborah dresses as a young man, skips town, and reinvents herself as Robert D. S. Shurtliff. She meets a recruiter and manages to pass herself off as a boy old enough to enlist in the Continental Army. Writing as Robert, she begins a correspondence with Jennie before Deborah marches with her regiment to their new military base at West Point. She befriends James Snow, an apprentice blacksmith and fellow private. Keeping up her male disguise proves tricky, but her army peers accept her as a full member of the light infantry. She likes the freedom and respect accorded a male enough to convince herself she wants to maintain her masquerade. Problems arise when Corporal Shaw threatens to expose her true gender before she makes a good showing during a British ambush. After suffering a tremendous personal loss, Deborah undergoes a change of heart about her role as a man (Robert), and as a woman (Deborah), in Myers's original and affecting novel. (Jan.)

From Booklist

“You must be able to imagine how good it feels to be assumed capable and intelligent and not always to have to prove this matter,” writes Deborah Samson to her friend, Jennie, during her remarkable Revolutionary War service, which she accomplishes while disguised as a man named Robert Shurtliff. In his debut, transgender author Myers relates the story of a courageous, real-life woman. His straightforward, clear prose lets the important and complex issues he raises shine through, including gender identification, the desire for self-expression, and the meaning of freedom in an era when women’s choices and actions were severely constrained. The novel follows Deborah, a tall, sturdily built 21-year-old who escapes repressive Middleborough, Massachusetts, in 1782 by enlisting in the Continental Army. Crisply rendered scenes shift from days of camaraderie and routine camp life around West Point to deadly skirmishes, the unmasking of traitors, and the discovery of unexpected love. With this thought-provoking work, Myers resists modernizing Deborah/Robert’s predicament and lets readers explore both the external and internal transformations of this valiant American soldier. --Sarah Johnson

More About the Author

Alex Myers was born and raised in western Maine. Since high school, Alex has campaigned for transgender rights. As a female-to-male transgender person, Alex began his transition at Phillips Exeter Academy (returning his senior year as a man after attending for three years as a woman) 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. After earning a master's in religion from Brown University, Alex began a career as a high school English teacher. Along the way, he earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He currently lives in DC with his wife and two cats.

Customer Reviews

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It had many interesting twists & turns.
Ann F Licciardi
This book was simply put one of the finest historical fictions on the Revolutionary war I have ever read.
Ambrosia Jefferson
This book was very well written and the main character had quite an interesting story to tell.
Susan Dunn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Held on February 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would recommend this piece of historical fiction to anyone who likes to think about gender roles in society, to anyone who is interested in this early period of our nation's history, and to anyone who truly enjoys a well told story.

REVOLUTIONARY was a first and foremost a great story. I really enjoyed the use of depth of character development and the journey that Deborah Sampson undertakes. I am looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.

REVOLUTIONARY helped me think more critically about society's gender assumptions and expectations. This topic was one of the main threads carefully woven into this novel. I am sure it is at least a little better now, but at that time, women were little better than chattel. I appreciated Deborah's desire to buck the system and escape to lead her own life. Sometimes it was a little tough to keep up with the constant pronoun changing (him/her) in the novel, but, looking back on it, I think this purposeful confusion reflected the identity struggle going on for the protagonist.

REVOLUTIONARY was a novel with well written descriptions and great details. When Myers described the tavern patrons as "well into their cups" I get a great mental picture of the scene. As someone who lived in New England for well over a decade of my life, I also recognized all the towns in the book and I know the distances marched. It is clear that a great deal of careful research went into this book and all of it helps enrich the story.

I do not read much historical fiction. I usually stick to straight history or biography, but this novel was well worth my time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ambrosia Jefferson on January 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Those who know me well know how much of a fan of the revolution I am. In turn they also know how picky I can be about books set in the era and how I often lament the lack of good, readable and accurate books that take place during this nations forming. After reading Revolutionary by Alex Myers, I am no longer lamenting. This book was simply put one of the finest historical fictions on the Revolutionary war I have ever read.

The story of Deborah Samson may not be known by as many as say the story of General George Washington, but to those who know it like me, we love it. It has been an honor and a privilege to read such a well told fictional account of the time in her life that made her become a soldier. From a woman who was seen as strong willed straining at the bit to break free from the reigns of confinement to a man, a good soldier who served loyally and bravely for the freedom of this country every word is placed with purpose and intent. For me personally it was one little detail that stood out the most that just gave that extra little push to making me believe in this whole story, the use of he and she. As the story comes from Deborah’s point of you would expect to always see she being used, however I noticed in the moments where Deborah truly became Robert and felt more closely with Robert the wording became he. That makes sense to me I get that. Just as towards the end when Robert starts to feel more like Deborah again we see she come back into play, a small detail that some might not even notice as they read the action of the story but I did and I appreciate it.

While as with any historical fiction there are some playing with facts here and there overall I cannot fault the accuracy of Revolutionary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill Reed on February 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Revolutionary is a historical novel animated and motivated by a universal, but deeply American drive for freedom from the shackles that bind various groups of people throughout history. We have seen, heard or read this story told so many times, in so many ways, that we have become numbed to the raw emotions and risky, often violent actions that people engage in to break those shackles. Thus it comes as a welcome surprise when anyone, much less a new author, is able to depict a character and tell a story so forcefully that it makes one re-examine ways in which we are still shackled, or in which we still actively shackle others.

Deborah Sampson, the main character of Alex Myers’ exceptionally told story, is a young New England woman in the 1780s who refuses to submit to the very oppressive cultural and social bindings imposed on women in that era. Deborah emerges from indentured servitude and is faced with a society that effectively required women to be married and relinquish all rights—to property, to work, to voice opinions, to education. Her escape from this externally imposed role, often at great risk, required great courage, stamina and sheer pluck, not to mention a deception that if punctured would be life threatening. Alex Myers’ Revolutionary offers us a unique view into both the customs and norms of the early American culture, as well as a thrilling tale of adventure.

Full disclosure: I would not have come across this book, much less read it, had I not been related to Alex via my wife’s family. I don’t generally enjoy historical fiction, whether in print or on TV, but I am a huge fan of science fiction.
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