Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
By Karen Abbott
Harper, 2014. 528 pgs. Nonfiction.
This book takes on the challenge of telling four important stories of the Civil War that involve brave women fighting for their cause. Whether Northerners or Southerners, these women were either outright belligerent to the other side, or secretly assisted where they could. Belle Boyd is a courier and spy that seduced men on both sides while exchanging messages for Confederate officers. Emma Edmonds took on the identity of Frank in order to hide her true self on the front lines. Rose O'Neale Greenhow gathered intelligence for the Confederacy, and Elizabeth Van Lew used her Southern reputation to spy for the North. The stories go from bloody battles to running through fields to relay a message of armies coming.
The book was equal parts exciting and educational at the same time while approaching each story from unbiased perspective. The women were strong and took on near impossible tasks for both sides of the Civil War and the author took great care in not picking a side, but really showing how important these women were. It was a fascinating book and a quick read for the 500 plus pages. Any history fan will like this, and anyone looking for stories about women placed in an unusual setting will like the way they changed history.