In the Defense of Liberty - Freehand Books

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In the Defense of Liberty

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781990601415 / 1990601413
  • 350 pages; 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

In the Defense of Liberty continues and deepens the meditation on American masculinity and its discontents that has informed so much of Maillard’s work.” VANCOUVER SUN

In the Defense of Liberty is not only untethered to its era, it is a fine example of a contemporary view from a historical perspective – the seeds we sowed then are the seeds we still sow now. The stacking of visions is powerful.” BC REVIEW

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