Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy (Paperback)
Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
Harper Perennial, 9780062092908, 544pp.
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
Karen Abbott, the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and “pioneer of sizzle history” (USA Today), tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything to become spies during the Civil War.
Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating 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 a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, 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, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.
Using a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous years of the 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 & photos and 3 maps.
About the Author
Karen Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City, American Rose, and, most recently, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. She has written for the New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian magazine, Salon, and other publications.
Praise For Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War…
— Los Angeles Times
“Engrossing…Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is conscientiously researched and smoothly written and structured.”
— Wall Street Journal
“A revelation... Abbott profiles four [women], sometimes weaving, sometimes stacking their stories together into a compelling narrative.”
— USA Today (four stars)
“Eloquent… A riveting psychological inquiry and probing examination of the courage, incomparable patriotism, stamina, and agility of four women who repeatedly risked their lives to serve their citizenry... Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy [feels] like an operatic espionage novel, where deception, betrayal, love, and redemption are interspersed with gripping combat scenes and perilous rescues.”
— Los Angeles Review of Books
“Karen Abbott’s Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy...is full of so many titillating dramas and details, you could be forgiven for periodically checking the back of the book to make sure it’s nonfiction.”
— Christian Science Monitor
“Gripping... a remarkable story of passion, strength, and resilience.”
— Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Compelling... Karen Abbott stitches together a patchwork narrative as complex as a pieced quilt, combining the colorful, unrelated tales of four women who fought in the Civil War as surely as Lee and Grant… [her] high achievement lies in her Augean compilation of published and archival material.”
— Washington Times
“Abbott’s prose is vivid, especially when she writes about battles and the terrible costs they exact.”
— Washington Post
“Karen Abbott’s powerful narrative is first rate American history about a fascinating, little-known chapter of the Civil War, as well as a compulsive, thrilling saga of espionage. Brilliant storytelling, highly accessible, and impossible to put down.”
— Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove
“Abbott…[reveals] in such vivid detail the extraordinary lives of women who involved themselves so dangerously in the Civil War. This is that rare work of history that reads like a novel -- and a really good one at that -- and in which the truth is more thrilling than fiction. ”
— Michael Korda, NY Times bestselling biographer of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, and T. E. Lawrence
“With this book, Karen Abbott declares herself the John le Carré of Civil War espionage--with the added benefit that the saga she tells is all true and beautifully researched.”
— Erik Larson, bestselling author of Devil in the White City
“Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy by Karen Abbott is a masterpiece of narrative storytelling, backed by impeccable research and extraordinary material. I was gripped by every page.”
— Amanda Foreman, author of the award-winning best sellers Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire: A Epic History of Two Nations Divided
“Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is a masterwork of suspenseful plots and unforgettable characters rendered in exacting, gorgeous detail-a brilliant new take on the heroines and villainesses of the Civil War.”
— Lydia Netzer, author of the New York Times notable book Shine Shine Shine
“With Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, Karen Abbott has taken history and written it with the eloquence of good fiction. Halfway through her book, I decided Ian Fleming could not have invented better spies…nor have written about them with any more suspense.”
— Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country
Thrilling, illuminating, heart-pounding. Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy reads like a crackling espionage novel...Karen Abbott brings to vivid life four of extraordinary and audacious women, and runs glorious roughshod over all our traditional notions of the role of women in the Civil War.
— Megan Abbott, Edgar-award winning and New York Times bestselling author of Dare Me and The Fever
“Beautifully written, meticulously researched, and paced like an edge-of-your-seat-novel---I love this big, ambitious, unstoppable book.”
— Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Gods in Alabama and Someone Else's Love Story
The subjects of Karen Abbott’s gripping story Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy leap up -- and almost off -- the page… an irresistibly good tale of Civil War espionage and a reminder that the heroes of our history are often found in the most unexpected places.
— Deborah Blum, New York Times bestselling author of The Poisoner's Handbook
“Karen Abbott’s Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is the kind of page-turning book you can get so absorbed in that you keep forgetting it’s nonfiction.”
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy examines how women’s roles changed when the men in their lives enlisted in the Civil War. What was the most difficult aspect of being a woman during this time? Do you think most women considered their increased responsibilities a hardship or a freedom?generic viagra price canada
- The women defy traditional gender roles many times. How does each character use her femininity to achieve her goals? What did President Lincoln’s advisor mean when he lamented the proliferation of “fashionable female spies?”generic viagra price canada
- Emma Edmonds disguised herself to enlist in the Union army. How do you think Emma (and ~400 more) pulled off this feat? What challenges come with living as imposters among men?generic viagra price canada
- Discuss the title. How does it apply to each character? When and how was each a liar, a temptress, a soldier, and a spy?generic viagra price canada
- Belle, Rose, and Elizabeth all employed servants/slaves during their espionage missions. Compare and contrast their treatment of servants/ slaves. Did any of their views evolve?generic viagra price canada
- Elizabeth’s servant Mary Jane Bowser is a key character. How does being African American affect her role as a spy? How did it make her job easier, or more difficult?generic viagra price canada
- Discuss each character’s relationships with men. How did the women use men to their advantage? Were the women ever used themselves?generic viagra price canada
- Belle looked up to Rose. Compare and contrast them. In your opinion, who was more successful? How did Belle’s reputation as a “fast girl” affect her work for the Confederacy?generic viagra price canada
- Rose’s daughter is crucial in Rose’s espionage work. Was she justified in using her daughter? Would you have done the same?generic viagra price canada
- Which spy did you relate to the most? Why? What motivated each woman? Had you lived during the Civil War, would you have dared to be a spy?generic viagra price canada
- Both North and South spoke of “atrocities” committed by the enemy. Which atrocity was the most shocking to you? Did one side exaggerate more?generic viagra price canada