This work of historical nonfiction reveals the courageous feats of four female Civil War spies, all from a variety of social backgrounds, and the lengths to which they go in amassing top-secret information for their respective factions. Working for the Confederate cause are Rose O’Neal Greenhow, a prominent Washington socialite who uses her charms to woo high enemy officials into divulging Union secrets, and the headstrong Belle Boyd, a teenager desperate to earn a name for herself in this tempestuous era. Spying for the Union are Emma Edmunds, a Canadian woman who disguises as a man to enlist in the Union army as a courier, and wealthy abolitionist Elizabeth Van Lew, who organizes a Union spy ring and manages to conceal runaway prisoners-of-war in her Richmond mansion right under the noses of rebel detectives.
What I appreciate most about Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is the determination with which the four strong women protagonists carry out their espionage despite the tremendous risks. Though they may not see eye to eye regarding secession and slavery, all share a fervent dedication to their mission and refuse to crumble under the danger of discovery by the enemy. These four women help shape the outcomes of various Civil War battles with the intelligence they glean, and after reading about their unique legacies I cannot help but feel a great sense of awe.
Availability: USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Xuejie Kimball
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: a book with a number in the title