Review: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott
5 of 5 stars
Women in the Civil War
I loved the book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. It’s not often you pick up a non-fiction history book about the Civil War and find yourself laughing, crying, and even caught up in the espionage/secrecy that all women were caught up in–on BOTH sides of the war. This actual story told in the way of exciting adventure thankfully lacks the in-credulousness of most fictional characters which are often overdeveloped in their portrayal. Luckily this was my first introduction to Rose Greenhow, and I could see her inside of the diary entries and letters as she worked for the espionage circles. The typical characters of the Civil War such as Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, General George McClellan, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson and Varina Davis, and Robert E. Lee grew even more realistic and added different facets coming from these ladies stories. It’s amazing to think that much like the Amazon women who fought alongside war mongers during the Mithridatic wars that there were women in the Civil War as we work towards women’s equality in the services today. Eighty-five female Marines made it through infantry training recently and even now simulated combat training is taking place to see if women will be allowed back on the front lines. Imagine — history has proved that those women who wanted to be in combat found a way to get there, driven by their internal force but once “good sense” sent them into Rosie the Riveter mode it was no longer an option. It was interesting to watch the progression of Belle Boyd as it seemed like everything she did was with extreme passion and enthusiasm and some of her reactions and views of the world were quite entertaining. If Belle Boyd and Stonewall Jackson were alive today, she would be stalking him on facebook and tweeting out his every single move! The espionage those women committed mind, body, and soul to make the difference between winning and losing. My favorite character was Emma Edmonds, who not only risked her life but her heart had to run far away from whatever torment she suffered at the hands of her father to support a country that she hadn’t even been a citizen of. In her career, she tended to the sick and wounded and pulled wounded men from the battlefield while the musket balls were still flying. Her daring and brave acts saved men, and the thought of love lost by not being able to reveal herself to her friend in arms was unusually emotive.
This book is highly recommended, as it gives another facet to a war that happened in our own country and how divided we once stood- that lately, seems very familiar.