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Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier|
432 pages, paperback / softcover, Vintage
In Masquerade, Alfred F. Young scrapes through layers of fiction and myth to uncover the story of Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts woman who passed as a man and fought as a soldier for seventeen months toward the end of the American Revolution.
Deborah Sampson was not the only woman to pose as a male and fight in the war, but she was certainly one of the most successful and celebrated. She managed to fight in combat and earn the respect of her officers and peers, and in later years she toured the country lecturing about her experiences and was partially successful in obtaining veterans' benefits. Her full story, however, was buried underneath exaggeration and myth (some of which she may have created herself), becoming another sort of masquerade. Young takes the reader with him through his painstaking efforts to reveal the real Deborah Sampson in a work of history that is as spellbinding as the best detective fiction.
"Young has recovered [Sampson’s] life and given us a portrait of a woman with 'an extraordinary capacity for taking risks.'" —The Washington Post
"An excellent narrative. . . . Young is especially adept at explaining how Sampson pulled off her masquerade." --San Francisco Chronicle
“Young’s most daring book. . . . Young finds in [Sampson’s] sensational story an illumination of the norms that she struggled against by making herself extraordinary.” —The New Republic
"Engaging...it is a delight to follow Young's unraveling of Sampson's masquerade." —The Boston Globe
Table of Contents
List of illustrations and maps
Prologue: "A lively comely young nymph. . . dressing in man's apparal has been discovered"
PART ONE: DEBORAH SAMSON
2. The Rebel
PART TWO: "ROBERT SHURTLIFF"
3. The Continental Army
4. The Light Infantryman
5. The General's Waiter
PART THREE: "THE CELEBRATED MRS. GANNETT"
6. A Gannett in Sharon
7. A Gannett on Tour
PART FOUR: "OLD SOLDIER"
8. Public Woman
9. Private Woman
PART FIVE: PASSING INTO HISTORY
10. Genteel and Plebian
11. Lost and Found
Epilogue: The Seagull