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

Liar Temptress Soldier Spy

There are definitely a few one-word descriptions I could give this book.  Outstanding! Fascinating!  Entertaining!  This book was so good, I was talking about it all week. My kids, my husband and my friends were totally immersed in all things related to Civil War espionage.  I don’t think they minded too much.  The stories were just that interesting.

Karen Abbott’s latest work takes the lives of four women who went beyond speaking up for their national alliances, they fought for them as well.

Belle Boyd, was a young hot-tempered woman, who not only held Confederate sympathies while she lived in Yankee-occupied Virginia, she wasn’t afraid confront Union soldiers with hostility.  Equally amazing, was that she got away with it.  She shot a Union soldier dead in her home, with no repercussions whatsoever.  Eventually she used her talents to travel back and forth across army lines delivering messages and spying for the Confederacy.  Quite the spitfire and quite the story.

Rose O’Neal Greenhow was another Confederate sympathizer, this one living in Washington DC, and traveling in high-ranking political circles.  She must have been quite the seductress, since 1) it was known that she was a sympathizer and a possible spy, and 2) US politicians and military officers readily gave her sensitive information.  Her ability to pass information to Southern generals resulted in the rout of the Union army at the Battle of Bull Run.

Emma Edmonds was definitely a favorite of the gutsy women depicted in the book.  Born in Canada, Emma escaped an undesirable marriage by disguising herself as a boy and enlisting in the Union Army.  Her acts of bravery and close calls with discovery kept me on the edge of my seat.

Lastly, Elizabeth Van Lew was a wealthy spinster living in Richmond.  A known abolitionist and Union sympathizer, this woman created a large network that not only helped gather intelligence and deliver it to northern Generals, but also aided Union prisoners and helped them escape the notorious Libby prison.

From start to finish, this narrative non-fiction was a real page turner.  Many thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for the review copy.  It was a fantastic read!

5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2015
516 pages


About Suzanne

I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids who loves to read.
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3 Responses to Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

  1. I can see why Emma’s story was your favorite – what an adventure she must have had!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. Karen Abbott says:

    Hi Suzanne, thanks so much for the lovely review! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the book (and I was enthralled by Emma, too).

    Karen Abbott

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