I received a free copy for my honest review.
About the Book:
• Publisher: Harper (September 2, 2014)
About the Author:
I have a fascination with the Civil War that came to me somewhat late in life. I really did not like American History when I was in school; I was far more interested in European history. It took a trip to Gettysburg to stir my interest in the war that almost tore this country apart. Since then I have read quite a few books on the various battles and prominent people of the War Between the States.
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy details the stories of four women who risked their lives to support their respective side in the War. The book alternates chapters between the four women and I have to note that this was a bit disconcerting as a chapter would end at an emotional moment and it would be three chapters before it would pick up again and I would half forget where I was within each woman’s story. It might have been easier on the reader to tell each woman’s story in larger pieces before switching to the next one. That being written I did thoroughly enjoy the book. It read like fiction rather than non-fiction but given what these women did truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Each woman was incredibly remarkable in her own right; Belle Boyd was only 17 when she killed a Union soldier while defending a family member’s honor. She used her wits to spy for the Confederacy. Elizabeth van Lew was a woman far ahead of her time living in Richmond. She was devastated when the South seceded and she used her personal fortune to help care for Union soldiers held in Confederate prisons and developed a very large spy network – even placing someone in the Davis mansion! Emma Edmonds lived her life as a man going so far as to enlist in the Union army. Rose Greenhow was a widow with friends in high places in Washington and she used them to learn the wheres and whats of the Union army’s movements so she could pass it on to her friend, General Beauregard.
It was a confusing time for the country and that confusion allowed for plenty of opportunities for women to use their skills in defense of their side. Little suspected at first because they were just women they did ultimately fall under suspicion and their sex did not keep them safe.
Like the best of fiction, I had a hard time putting this one down and it will join the other books in my Civil War library. Most people expect non fiction to be dry and textbook like but this book is as far from that as you could imagine. It’s like a suspense/thriller but of course we all know who wins in the end.
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