ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Revolutionary by Alex Myers



Revolutionary by Alex Myers

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



“This is a bona fide and unforgettable Revolutionary War novel. … [An] approachable, imaginative novel, a tale of muskets and masquerade, of marches and mutiny, that is also as an evocative portrayal of life in the Continental Army.… Remarkable.” (The New York Times)

“A vividly detailed fictionalization of the true story of Massachusetts-born Deborah Sampson… 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 [a] fascinating life.” (The Boston Globe)

“Deftly written . . . original and affecting.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Myers’ excellent research and skilled writing combine to create an absorbing story with an interesting protagonist and topics worth contemplating. A fine debut.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“[Myers] writes well about identify and gender…[A] new take on historical accounts of transgender people; Myers explores not just how Deborah manages to pass as a man but her reasons for doing so.” (Library Journal)

“[Myers’] straightforward, clear prose lets the important and complex issues he raises shine through…thought-provoking.” (Booklist)

“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)


Publisher Information & Purchase Links:

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Hardcover: $26.00
Pages: 320
Released: January 14, 2014
Size: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
ISBN-13: 978-1451663327



Discussion Questions

  1. If Deborah lived today, do you think she’d want to be a man or a woman?
  2. How did this presentation of history fit with what you were taught about the Revolutionary War?
  3. Were you confused by the switch in genders?
  4. How does Deborah’s story still resonate today?
  5. Does it matter to you which parts of the novel are historical and which are made up? Why?


revolutionary author photo

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.




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Eckleburg is a print and online literary journal that offers original fiction, poetry, essays, music, art, writing workshops and more.