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

Karen Abbott, the New York Times bestselling uthor of Sin in the Second City and “ pioneer of sizzle history ” ( USA Today), laments the spellbinding true story of four omen who risked everything to become spies during the Civil War.

Karen Abbott illuminates one of he most haunting yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of woma to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. eautiful idow, Rose O ’ Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young aughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the hooves of suspicious rebel detectives.

sing a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies ’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous decade of he war. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy contains 39 black& amp; white photos and 3 maps.
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Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
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Published September 2nd 2014 by Harper (first published July 1st 2014

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Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Karen Abbott 's History of Four Women in the American Civil War

Put he Quiz: What We Do n't Know Newsweek Magazine, March 20, 2011.So it is especially refreshing to ge anothe book as skilfully written by n author as talented as Karen Abbott who brings a lesser known area of the American Civil War brilliantly alive.

Any reader would find her story of four omen and their involvement in the American Civil War anything but dull.

With the master of a write, Abbott weaves the lives of four exceptional and independent women into the complex history of the times.

Abbott writes the History column for and Disunion, the continuing series on the American Civil War for The New York Times.

Another is history that is fully noted with a ibliography of sources that should satisfy any historian.Writing of women 's role in the American Civil War, Abbott said in her introductory note:

During the battle of Falling Waters, Belle Boyd ran across the field of battle to warn Jackson of the number and deployment of Union troops.

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Abbott 's book is no well-researched, but she prefer to present as fact information from such dubious sources as the women 's own memoirs or stories from Harper 's Weekly.

Since many of the women parleyed their life stories into various careers, it was in their own interests to make them as sensational as possible.I also felt that Abbott does n't carefully delineate from her own embroidering and her sources.

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Also, the four women do not share a single tal by any stretch of the imagination — a good thing if, like me, you enjoy " rotisserie-style " narration.** Setting the Scene: We open curtain around summertime 1861, which ( and I hope you already know this) coincides with the

If ever there comes a time when we all et to come back in time to slap a person of our choosing, Belle would be pretty high up on my list ( though do n't ell her that, she 'd probably ake it as a compliment) .†

( after her sixth or seventh arrest), she was " insulted " by the inadequac of torment she received relative to Rose O'Neal Greenhow ( whom you 'll meet soon enough).

I ould n't help but feel smug satisfaction when I writ that Belle was rebuffed by a fellow inmate in her constant search for th woma to we.

ell, it as n't strictly legal for a oman to impersonate a man to join the ranks ( though, Abbott speculates, that there may have been up to 400 women who did so).

Fortunately, Emma, not usually one for lying and deception, felt that it was her god-given duty to help with the war effort in whatever way possible.

Her story has the trials that often come with havin a woman playing a man, ofte in context intense for all.

Edmonds/Thompson 's role got even more gender-bending when she was sent undercover as a man retending to e woman across enemy lines in order to collect some intel.

Rose O'Neal Greenhow: Remember the lady who was lucky enough to receive way more torment than the envious Belle Boyd while locked up in Old Colony Prison?

officially defected to the CSA and went off to war, was pretty much

Rose Greenhow, like Belle Boyd, had the annoying habit of " unsexing " herself ( as far as I 'm intereste, if you 're running a spy ring and packing heat, you 're sor of fair game), and then whining about how unfair it was to subject a woman to such barbarous treatment.

Between referring to Unionists as " slaves of Lincoln ... that abolition despot, " and ( pro-slavery as ever) describing seasickness as " .. the greatest evil to which poor human nature can be subjected, " my patience wore thin with Rose.

Like Rose Greenhow, Van Lew ran a sizable spy ring, but her real stroke of genius involved a collaboration between Elizabeth and her much beloved servant ( for lack of a better phras),

Having taught Mary Jane to read and rite, referring to her as th “ maid, of more than usual intelligence, ” was uite the understatement.

Apparently, there are n't nearly enough books out there on kick-ass ladies in Civil War lore, so thanks, Karen Abbott, for that! _______________________________________* That 's another thing kids say on the internet these days, right?** ot a real term, but I ca n't sa of a etter way to explain the proces of rotating among otherwise separate stories.

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Frank took the oath of llegiance to the United States…He assured himself that this ha a calling, that he wa to do what he could ‘ for the defense of the ight, ’ and that if he was careful no one would discover his secret: Frank Thompson was really Emma Edmondson, and ad been posing as a man for two years… ”- Karen Abbott, Liar Temptress Soldier Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil WarAnyone who has spent time around children knows that they ask really fundamental questions.

ecently, I was watching n episode of Blood& Fury, a Civil War documentary, with my six year-old daughter, Emilia.

While we sat on the couch, Emilia asked: “ Were there any girls in the Civil War? ” “ Sure, ” I said confidently.

Curiously, my mothe found a discarded page from her diary that said: “ his is my Dad [ ’ s ] favorite thing [: ] it is the Civil War. ” ( Note: This is not entirely true.

inally, a bit angr with my attempts to clarify the U.S. Sanitation Commission, Emilia blurted out: “ No, I mean did any girls fight in he war? ” Yes, I answered resolutely.

And when Emilia asked me to xplain, I sort of trailed off… Like I note, kids test our basic assumptions of what we want.

I pride myself in Civil War knowledge, and et it only took a six year-old five minutes to derail that knowledge train.

That ’ s what led me to Karen Abbott ’ s Liar Temptress Soldier Spy, the retellin of four remarkable women and their experiences in the American Civil War. Importantly, none of these four women conformed to contemporary gender norms.

four women that we follow are Confederates Belle Boyd and Rose O ’ Neal Greenhow, and Unionists Emma Edmonson ( a.k.a., Emma Edmonds, a.k.a. Frank Thompson) and Elizabeth Van Lew. Belle Boyd is a name you might recognize, which is how she will have anted it.

The oung irl at the begi of war, she killed a Yankee that insulted her mom, and then made a name for herself as a spy, though her exploits seem more the product of self-promotion ( and th great, alliterative name) than the accumulation of actionable intelligence.

She was most motivated by fame, excitement, and the whims of her passions, attested to by the act that she basicall ended up marrying two different Union men.

On the Union side, we have Emma Edmonson, a young oman who enlisted as a woma, managed to remain undetected, and served in a ariety of roles, including nurse, spy, and postmaster.

The wealthy gir who lived in Richmond, she ha a Unionist and abolitionist who risked her life and dispensed her fortune attempting to help Union soldiers escape from Libby Prison.

Abbott tells their stories in chronological fashion, alternating chapters as the war progresses.

Boyd, Greenhow, Edmonson, and Lew all wrote memoirs, providing first person accounts of their war years.

Nevertheless, at times, it seeme like Abbott was simply paraphrasing these memoirs, right down to the ragged transitions and glaring plot holes.

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Because I read a lot of th genre, I have favorite time periods and people and places.

She was shunned almost her entir life and her end is one of the saddest of the story ], and a les I read, the more admiration I had for them [ though the two southern women/spies were rather funn and their actions and way of life and expectations drove me crazy at times ].

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Tha book sheds light on ome of the bravery that women showed during the Civil War.The Civil War definitely is n't my favorite historical event to learn about but with books like this to giv it a lot more xciting to me, it akes me hink that maybe I need to delive the Civil War more than passing glance when it goe to my reading.

I love that the way that the author explained thi tory of ll of these omen.

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By the end I ad very difficult time forcing myself to pay attention and would have ever finished it were it not a book club selection. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -Favorite Quote: N/A.First Sentence: For a period of thirty-three hours, from just before dawn on April 12, 1861, to mid-afternoon the following day, sleep was hard to ge by, in both North and South.

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