Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 8, 2015)
New York Times bestselling author Karen Abbott tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything 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. The beautiful widow Rose O'Neal Greenhow engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians and used her young daughter 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—even placing a former slave inside the Confederate White House—right under the noses of increasingly suspicious rebel detectives.
With a cast of real-life characters, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, Detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoléon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy shines a dramatic new light on these daring—and, until now, unsung—heroines.
Book clubs will be happy to know there's a reader's guide.
Also, learn more about the characters in the book at Experience the Past.
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After reading many fictional books on women who played a part in the Civil War, I became very interested in the actual women that these accounts were based on. I had absolutely loved the story of Elizabeth Van Lew and her fierce determination to help Union prisoners in her Southern town and I was entranced by the many stories of women dressing up as men and joining the ranks to prove themselves as valuable a soldier as anyone else. In Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, I was happy to learn of four courageous women: Elizabeth Van Lew, Emma Thompson, Rose O’Neal and Belle Boyd. Each of these women, whether fighting for the Union or the Confederacy, played important roles in the outcome of the Civil War.
The book, although non-fiction, is written in such a way that it did not feel like non-fiction. The stories of each woman are woven together through time, which gave the book a great flow instead of separating each woman’s story. It was really interesting to see how one woman’s actions had an effect on one another. Also, their involvement with important figures of the time is highlighted throughout the book. I actually liked reading many of the real articles, transcripts and memoirs from the time; it really brought life to these women’s stories. I was impressed with Elizabeth Van Lew’s story and her steadfastness to help Union prisoners that turned into much more. Emma Thompson's story shone with immense heart and hers was the story I was probably the most taken in by, she saw the worst carnage that some of the battles had to offer and still continued on. Rose and Belle's stories also caught my attention as I had never focused on any women from the Confederacy. Overall, an entertaining and dramatic account of the unsung heroines of the Civil War.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Karen Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City, American Rose, and, most recently, Liar Temptress Soldier Spy, which was named one of the best books of 2014 by Library Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, Amazon, and Flavorwire, and which was optioned by Sony for a miniseries. A native of Philadelphia, she now lives in New York City, where she's at work on her next book.
Find out more about Karen at her website.