Harvard Book Store welcomes teacher, activist, and Harvard alum ALEX MYERS, the first openly transgender student at Harvard University, for a discussion of his novel Revolutionary.
In 1782, during the final clashes of the Revolutionary War, one of our young nation’s most valiant and beloved soldiers was, secretly, a woman.
When Deborah Samson disguised herself as a man and joined the Continental Army, she wasn’t just fighting for America’s independence—she was fighting for her own.
Revolutionary, Alex Myers’s richly imagined and meticulously researched debut novel, brings the true story of Deborah’s struggle against a rigid colonial society back to life—and with it the courage, hope, fear, and heartbreak that shaped her journey through a country’s violent birth.
After years as an indentured servant in a sleepy Massachusetts town, chafing under the oppressive norms of colonial America, Deborah can’t contain her discontent any longer. When a sudden crisis forces her hand, she decides to finally make her escape. Embracing the peril and promise of the unknown, she cuts her hair, binds her chest, and, stealing clothes from a neighbor, rechristens herself Robert Shurtliff. It’s a desperate, dangerous, and complicated deception, and becomes only more so when, as Robert, she enlists in the Continental Army.
What follows is an inspiring, one-of-a-kind journey through an America torn apart by war: brutal winters and lethal battlefields, the trauma of combat and the cruelty of betrayal, the joy of true love and the tragedy of heartbreak. In his brilliant Revolutionary, Myers, who himself is a descendant of the historical Deborah, takes full advantage of this real-life heroine’s unique voice to celebrate the struggles for freedom, large and small, like never before.
"Alex Myers' debut novel, Revolutionary, is more than an accounting of Deborah Sampson's amazing Revolutionary war feat of enlisting and serving a three-year tour in the army disguised as a man; it is an exploration of the irony of such circumstances. In following her true nature—who she is at heart—Deborah creates for herself a duplicitous life fraught with personal risk. This beautifully written account is a reminder that gender identity and the struggle for equal rights has always been with us. Perhaps now, in our time, we can set aside our biases and not simply ask how Deborah Sampson did what she did, but understand why." —Heather Sharfeddin author of Windless Summer