“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.
“I raced through this vividly imagined tale, unable to put it down. It is a remarkable story of a quest for independence so unusual and startling that it is remarkable to know that it was based on the author's ancestor, a young indentured woman who discovered the freedom and ultimately the cost of becoming a man. Set during the Revolutionary War, it is teeming with insight, as astonishing as it is readable, a story that reveals the limitations women faced and the courage it took to defy them.”
– Robin Oliviera, author of My Name Is Mary Sutter
"Alex Myers' novel is terrific. The book is a page turner; it has characters you care about; and it is imaginative in the best sense of the word. Myers' recreation of Deborah Sampson at war is vivid and full of suspense ... I look forward to its success."
– Alfred F. Young, author of Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier
"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
"A novel of the American Revolution by a writer who is himself a true American revolutionary."
– Mark Edmundson, author of Why Teach
"Alex Myers’ debut novel is a marvel. Revolutionary explores the life of Deborah Samson who, passing as a man, fought in the Revolutionary War. In this exquisitely rendered fictional account, Myers paints a portrait of a complex woman whose tribulations and triumphs echo in our own time. This is a book about what it means to be a hero, a woman, and a person who refuses to accept the limiting roles society imposes. It also, deftly and with grace, explores the intricate and shifting boundaries of passion and love."
– Connie May Fowler, author of The Problem with Murmur Lee and Before Women had Wings