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I Was a Revolutionary

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  107 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Grounded in place, spanning the Civil War to the present day, the stories in I Was a Revolutionary capture the roil of history through the eyes of an unforgettable cast of characters: the visionaries and dreamers, the radical farmers and socialist journalists, the quack doctors and protesters who haunt the past and present landscape of the American heartland.

In these stori
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Harper
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Helen Simonson
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just met Andrew Malan Milward at a Florida book festival where we shared a panel on historical fiction. But we agreed that neither of us is writing strictly historical fiction. Rather, we are 'engaging' with history to draw out timeless literary themes. His new book of stories offers deeply researched and stunningly vivid portraits of Kansans at critical points in the history of the state of Kansas. Andrew can inhabit any person he wants - black, white, outlaw, struggling immigrant... His sens ...more
Rachel Smalter Hall
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When Rebecca Schinsky at Book Riot tells you to read a book, friends, you listen. Rebecca messaged me early one Monday to tell me about this great little book of stories set in Kansas where I live. The next day I had a copy in my grubby little fingers and was (literally) shoving it into other people's hands. (P.S. I'm sorry if I shoved this book into your hands.)

Milward is a protégé of Marilynne Robinson and Tim O’Brien, and it shows in the way he takes well-worn history book anecdotes and trans
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
OUTSTANDING. Kansas is the unifying thread in these stories, which illustrate that history is the accumulation of individual lives. Quantrill, Dinsmoor, Exodusters, professors and students, Panthers and Hemp Pickers are all here and all too human. The author credits Tim O'Brien with “reminding me that fiction is for getting at the truth when truth isn’t sufficient for the task." So true. Highly recommended, whether you're a Kansan or not. ...more
Giving this book a high rating puts a smile on my face because it was written by one of my creative writing professors at UK. I've always wondered about how awkward it must be for a writer to have people they know dislike their work, which isn't to say that Andrew and I are best friends or that he would have been in any way affected by my irrelevant opinion, but I would have felt weird. It's one thing to diss a book when the author is just a professionally taken photo to you, but it's another th ...more
Jenna Glode
This was a collection of 8 short stories by the author that followed a central theme of Kansas, specifically how the history of it shaped what it is today. I never really gave much thought to the state, but after reading this, I have a newfound appreciation for it. One of the most prominent points of it's history was "Bleeding Kansas", the nineteenth-century debate over whether it should be a free or slave state. This is considered a major cause for the eventual beginning of the American Civil W ...more
Laura Hart
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So very grateful for the opportunity I had at Auburn to study under this man. Such a strong sense of place and commitment to history throughout. Professor Milward made me interested in Kansas, a place I previously dismissed as pointless and boring. There's so much to learn from here, though. There is so much we lose if we ignore this. There's a variety in this collection; the different narrative styles make each new story fresh and captivating. The characters leap off the page and your heart ach ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m very glad I read it. These were interesting engaging stories about Kansas. Using the individual lives of people this collection of stories tells fascinating stories of the state. The stories range from the present moment back to the founding of the state. Kansas has an interesting social and political history and this book reminds one of that - even while giving historic details in an engaging way.
Austin Carroll Keeley
The stories won't stick with me. Even writing this review a month after reading it, very little sticks in my head as memorable. The author, an academic, sticks to what he knows and sets multiple stories in the context of a university. As such the voices never really sound distinct; not truly memorable. I did enjoy a reflection on the revolutionary status of Kansas. But I could have got as much (and have in the past) from a short history book as I did from this. ...more
CJ Craig
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, Excellent, Excellent! I learned quite a surprising amount of history about my home state. The prose does not wander and the stories all connect with one another. The best thing was clearly picturing the places in the 3 stories based in Lawrence. Really enjoyed it all. Made me want to visit Dodge City which is a desire I have never, ever had.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as part of a Goodread giveaway. Some very interesting lenses to look at history are shown. I absolutely loved how you see the historical figure and the historians stories with equal emphasis. It shows that you are just never sure who may be part of history or your part of it. Probably the best way to look at the world that I have seen.
Courtney Lupu
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
First half? Outstanding detail. After the book turned to personal life I faded. The stories felt too short- like I was waiting for the story to continue and it never did.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating stories. I will be thinking of them for a while.
Chris Browning
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I never thought I would find myself in the position of reading something this year that would make me deeply invested in the history of Kansas (and Kansas as a spatial entity - I'd almost consider living there after reading this), but here we are and I think most of that can be attributed to the deep empathy in Milward's writing, towards both his characters and the space they inhabit (as Kansans, as revolutionaries) - there is not a slapdash "easy answer" ending to be found here, despite the mut ...more
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
(Note: I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.)

A book of short stories, all taking place in Kansas during different historical periods. They often concern- even depict- key pieces of Kansas history, such as Quantrill's Raiders or the turn-of-the-20th-century People's Party; which are often brought up in more than one story. The author has a particular interest in radical history; everything from radical agrarian movements (the aforementioned People's Party) to the radi
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
These stories all center on events and people from the history of Kansas -- and there are plenty of fascinating people and events to draw on: Quantrill's Raid, Nicodemus, J.R. Brinkley, the Garden of Eden, to name a few in this book. Some stories read almost like a documentary account (though written in a lively, engaging style) and others are focused on characters living through certain time periods.
The writing is strong throughout, if a bit obviously "crafted" in places, but -- like most stor
Andrew Milward excels in his prose with these collection of short stories. Though in its center is the history of Kansas from Quantrill's raid in the 1860s to the Goat Gland Doctor to its revolutionary activity in the 1960s, this book is about the human experience. The stories brings its historical characters to life and traditional histories are told in narrative fashion. Sometimes, historical events are foregrounded in a contemporary narrative where the main actors search for deeper meaning in ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-on-a-whim

I picked it up since it was short stories on Kansas History. It was an easy and mostly interesting read, but the various perversions that cropped up here and there were just odd. History can be interesting itself without making up layers to titillate readers into reading the book. The story selections did work together well. I enjoyed O Death the most.
Lee Parker
Sep 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this for free through Goodreads First Reads

I guess history is just not my thing at all. People from Kansas or who enjoy history would probably really like this.
Jane Billinger
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Andrew Malan Milward was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the author of two short story collections, The Agriculture Hall of Fame and I Was a Revolutionary. His fiction has appeared in many venues, including Zoetrope, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, Guernica, and Best New American Vo ...more

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