In the Defense of Liberty - Freehand Books

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In the Defense of Liberty

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781990601415 / 1990601413
  • 6" x 9"

Set on a US college campus in 1964, In the Defense of Liberty is a powerful, fast-paced novel exploring gender nonconformity and the reach of history.

It’s 1964, and the students at Merida University in Ohio can sense that something is brewing—the campus is rippling with undercurrents of anger and alienation. As they work to make sense of the rapidly shifting cultural and ideological climate, the four main characters of In the Defense of Liberty are also consumed by their own personal dramas.

There’s Mason, a history student growing his hair long and struggling to find anywhere he belongs. There’s Lorianne, a young wife who left a promising career in academia when she got pregnant. There’s Henry, Lorianne’s husband, who is working year after year on his thesis, with no end in sight. And there’s Jessie, a TA who has always been a bit of an enigma. Over one turbulent summer, the intense connections between these four characters take a number of thrilling twists and turns, with each relationship taken to its breaking point.

In this fascinating and fast-paced novel, Keith Maillard expertly captures the ethos of the mid-1960s and explores threads of gender and sexuality, while holding up a mirror to the roots of modern-day American polarization.

Praise for In the Defense of Liberty

“A sleepy campus in Ohio. Summer of ’64. Mingus, the Beatles, Nightwood, the fever dream of Goldwater, late night student conversations—all in the sights of gun culture. Unforgettable characters navigate acceptance, intimacy, and regenesis. In the Defense of Liberty captures an in-real-time state of being for trans and gender-curious folks (and all of us who love them). It is brave. And it is breathtaking.” – Linda Svendsen, author of Marine Life, Sussex Drive, and Peabody Award winner for Human Cargo

“Fast-paced and intimate, personal and political, queer and beautiful—just like the gorgeously drawn ensemble cast, truth and memory must sweat it out under the relentless Ohio sun. The kind of storytelling that pushes the boundaries of what a historical novel can be and leaves you wondering what history itself is.” – Carrie Jenkins, author of Victoria Sees It and Sad Love

Praise for Keith Maillard

“[A] work of terrible beauty and grace, a masterpiece fit to contend with the best novels of the last century.” – Globe and Mail

“Maillard is a national treasure.” – Kirkus

“Keith Maillard’s books changed my life. They made me want to write, and to be a writer.” – Dave Bidini

“Keith Maillard is one of the finest English-language novelists in Canada today.” – Vancouver Sun

News & Events

Keith Maillard interviewed by Massy Arts Society
In the Defense of Liberty reviewed in Vancouver Sun
In the Defense of Liberty reviewed in the Ubyssey
Book Launch: In the Defense of Liberty by Keith Maillard
CBC Books's Canadian Fiction Spring Preview
49th Shelf's Most Anticipated: Spring 2023 Fiction Preview
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