"Martin Duberman is a national treasure."
—Masha Gessen, The New Yorker
Roger Casement was an internationally renowned figure at the beginning of the 20th century, famous for exposing the widespread atrocities against the indigenous people in King Leopold's Congo and his subsequent exposure—for which he was knighted in 1911—of the brutal conditions of enslaved labor in Peru. An Irish nationalist of profound conviction, he attempted, at the outbreak of World War I, to obtain German support and weapons for an armed rebellion against British rule. Apprehended and convicted of treason in a notorious trial that captured worldwide attention, Casement was sentenced to die on the gallows. A powerful petition drive for the commutation of his sentence was inaugurated by George Bernard Shaw and a host of other influential figures.
A gay man, Casement kept detailed diaries of his sexual escapades, and the British government, upon discovering the diaries, circulated its pages to public figures, thereby crippling what had been a mounting petition for clemency. In 1916, he was hanged. In this gripping reimagining, acclaimed historian Martin Duberman paints a full portrait of the man for the first time. Tracing his evolution from servant of the empire to his work as a humanitarian activist and anti-imperialist, Duberman resurrects and recognizes all facets—from the professional to the personal—of the fantastic life of this pioneer for human rights.
Luminous Traitor The Just and Daring Life of Roger Casement, a Biographical Novel
About the Book
"Martin Duberman is a national treasure."
"Duberman calls his book a biographical novel, though it is more biography of the real-life Casement than novel. But, in either case, it is a painstaking, sympathetic portrait of a celebrated humanitarian. The result is both a political history and also an examination of the history of homosexuality. It is valuable on both counts."—Booklist
"...a deeply informed biographical novel, skillfully told in present tense, that brings [a] lesser-known historical era and its principal actors to light."—The Bay Area Reporter
""Duberman’s presentation of [Casement's] life story is impressive."—The Gay & Lesbian Review
"A biographical novel about a complex man in complex times, but someone who burnt with a sense of justice, and when he wasn’t pursuing that (in the Congo or Peru or Ireland) was burning with forbidden sexual desire for men wherever he could find them. We hanged him."—Stephen Hough The Times of London
“In the last year alone, renowned gay historian Martin Duberman, Ph.D. ’57, has published a memoir, a polemic about gay activism, and a “novel/history” about the inner circle of Kaiser Wilhelm. He adopts the third genre for Luminous Traitor: The Just and Daring Life of Roger Casement, A Biographical Novel: cleaving to the historical record and using “informed speculation” to fill in the gaps.”—Harvard Magazine
“Martin Duberman's stirring and vivid prose takes the reader into Roger Casement’s world and the haunting tragedies he confronted. From the Congo to Ireland, and across the imperial, postcolonial globe, the journey is amazing and fortifying.”—Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt
"This remarkable and very readable book deserves a wide audience. The late Sir Roger Casement's wonderful and tragic life, from his first experiences in the Congo to his effective challenge to the brutal exploitation of indigenous people in the Putumayo region of the Amazon, is dramatized beautifully. Episodes including Casement's voice are persuasively achieved. During my lifetime Casement's homosexuality was aggressively denied by a Republican who refused to allow that an Irish patriot could be both such and also gay, but Casement's diaries are both convincing and representative of the sexual encounters of many gay men right up into my own lifetime. Here his sexuality is finally woven into the narrative naturally and compellingly."—David Norris, member of the Irish Senate and human rights activist
“Duberman has chosen his ultimate flawed hero, a richly complex and contradictory figure of enduring importance, and superbly humanized him here. The result is a sweeping radical history of the successes and shortcomings of the 20th century told through the life and times of Roger Casement.”—John Howard, author of White Sepulchres and Men Like That
Table of Contents
Part 1 • The Years of Innocence
Part 2 • The Congo
Part 3 • The Putumayo
Part 4 • Ireland
Part 5 • The Trial and Its Aftermath
- Lambda Literary Award Gay Fiction Finalist 2019, Lambda Literary Foundation