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Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy : Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
by Karen Abbott


Overview -

An Amazon Best Book of 2014 A Library Journal Best Book of 2014 A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of 2014

Belle BoydEmma EdmondsRose O'Neal GreenhowElizabeth Van Lew

In Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, bestselling author Karen Abbott tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything--their homes, their families, and their very lives--during the Civil War.  Read more...


 
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More About Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
 
 
 
Overview

An Amazon Best Book of 2014 A Library Journal Best Book of 2014 A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of 2014

Belle BoydEmma EdmondsRose O'Neal GreenhowElizabeth Van Lew

In Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, bestselling author Karen Abbott tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything--their homes, their families, and their very lives--during the Civil War.

Seventeen-year-old Belle Boyd, an avowed rebel with a dangerous temper, shot a Union soldier in her home and became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her considerable charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man to enlist as a Union private named Frank Thompson, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the war and infiltrating enemy lines, all the while fearing that her past would catch up with her. The beautiful widow Rose O'Neal Greenhow engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians, used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals, and sailed abroad to lobby for the Confederacy, a journey that cost her more than she ever imagined. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring--even placing a former slave inside the Confederate White House--right under the noses of increasingly suspicious rebel detectives.

Abbott's pulse-quickening narrative weaves the adventures of these four forgotten daredevils into the tumultuous landscape of a broken America, evoking a secret world that will surprise even the most avid enthusiasts of Civil War-era history. With a cast of real-life characters, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, Detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy shines a dramatic new light on these daring--and, until now, unsung--heroines.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062092892
  • ISBN-10: 0062092898
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Publish Date: September 2014
  • Page Count: 513


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - Civil War
Books > History > Women
Books > Political Science > Intelligence & Espionage

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-05-26
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this gripping book, Abbott (Sin in the Second City) tells the moving and fascinating story of four women who played unconventional roles during the Civil War: Belle Boyd, a boisterous flirt and Confederate spy; Rose Greenhow, a seductive widow also spying for the South; Emma Edmondson, who disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Union army; and Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy spinster in the Confederate capital with Unionist loyalties. Meticulously researched and fluidly written, this book draws the reader in and doesn’t let go until the four heroines draw their final breaths. Abbott provides an alternate view of this tumultuous time in history by featuring previously untold stories of the impact women and civilians had on the war effort, and she brings these individuals fully to life, with their passion for their causes (Elizabeth for abolitionism, Rose for the Confederacy), personal flaws (Rose was racist and self-involved, Belle was impulsive and vain), and heartbreak (Emma by two different men, Belle for an opposing spy). For example, in an era when men had trouble even picturing women in pants, Emma Edmondson enlisted as a man in the Union army and saw action in her roles as both spy and nurse. In the end, Abbott tells a remarkable story of passion, strength, and resilience. (Sept.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Working undercover in plain sight

You can get away with quite a lot if no one takes you very seriously. Like carrying military intelligence about the Union army through enemy lines to deliver it to the Confederates. Or hiding Union POW escapees in your attic while Confederate officers are boarding downstairs at your home. 

You get the picture: Women were largely dismissed as flighty, inferior creatures in Victorian times. That attitude helped several become some of the most effective spies of the Civil War. Again and again, the women who are the focus of Karen Abbott’s exciting Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War came close to discovery or death, only to be saved by their enemies’ sexism.

Not that Belle Boyd, Rose Greenhow, Emma Edmonds and Elizabeth Van Lew were ordinary women. They were all strong-minded, daring and difficult. Edmonds was perhaps the most astonishing: Escaping an abusive father in Canada, she masqueraded as a young man and joined the Union army. She kept up the game so well that she became an army scout, “cross-dressed” as a woman.

Confederates Greenhow and Boyd were flamboyant women who used sexual attraction in the service of their cause and were too indiscreet to retain their effectiveness. Pro-Union Van Lew, however, was a wealthy, circumspect middle-aged spinster. She carefully built a large, lasting spy and prisoner-escape network in Richmond, even infiltrating an African-American secret agent into Jefferson Davis’ house as a servant.

This is compelling material, and Abbott, best-selling author of Sin in the Second City, cross-cuts among the stories to produce dramatic cliff-hangers. Her depiction of Greenhow’s tragic end will move any reader, whatever one may think of the Confederate cause.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews