Author will engage cadets reading The Handmaid’s Tale

Author Margaret Atwood will visit West Point on Thursday, Feb. 5, to meet with members of the class of 2018 (first-year students, known as plebes) who are now reading her novel The Handmaid’s Tale in their literature course.

The focal point of her visit is a public lecture in Eisenhower (“Ike”) Hall from 12:50 to 1:45 p.m., after which she will entertain questions from the cadets. Prior to the lecture, Atwood will sign books at the bookstore in Thayer Hall and experience the cadets’ lunch in Washington Hall.

“We are delighted that Ms. Atwood will take time to come and speak to the thousand-plus plebes who will have just read one of her best-known novels,” said Lt. Col. Naomi Mercer, director of the literature course, a core curriculum requirement taught by faculty in West Point’s Department of English and Philosophy for all first-year students.

The Handmaid’s Tale, published in Canada in 1985 and in the U.S. in 1986, describes a dystopian society in which religious radicals have taken over the U.S. government and the new regime has forced people into rigid categories and roles. Women can no longer own property, work or even read, while fertile women get trained as handmaids whose sole purpose is to become impregnated by the commander to whom they are assigned and thereby to improve the declining birth rate.

Atwood is the author of more than 40 volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction and nonfiction, but she is best known for her novels, which, in addition to The Handmaid’s Tale include The Blind Assassin, which won the Booker Prize in 2000.

Entrance to West Point requires government-issued photo ID. People coming from off post to hear the lecture should leave ample time to find parking and shuttle service, which runs frequently from Buffalo Soldier Field near Thayer Gate. For more information, go to

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