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


Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy examines the lives of four women who played unique roles during the American Civil War.  After shooting a Union soldier, Belle Boyd became a a courier for the Confederacy, often putting herself in danger to deliver her secret messages.  Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man to fight for the northern troops, wary of being discovered by the same men she yearned to call her friends.  And both Rose O’Neale Greenhow and Elizabeth Van Lew used their social connections and wealth to coordinate elaborate espionage operations though they did so for opposing sides.  Together, the portraits of these four remarkable women form a fascinating, multi-faceted picture of the Civil War.

"Staring out her window onto South Queen Street, she heard the soldiers before she saw them.  They announced their presence with laughter and song, hollering about that damned Yankee Doodle riding on his pony, booted feet stomping to the burst of bugle and the grumble of drums.  The beat thrummed in the air, keeping time with the tap of her heart against her ribs.  It was late afternoon, the sun shedding its heat layer by layer, hunkering down toward the baked dirt roads.  The soldiers' song grew louder, their laughter more brazen.  They slashed bayonets at the pale Virginia sky, marching closer and closer still."

Karen Abbott is the author of Sin in the Second City; American Rose; and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.  She lives in New York City.

Published:  2014
Length:  513 pages
Set in:  United States