Cover image for Liar, temptress, soldier, spy : four women undercover in the Civil War
Liar, temptress, soldier, spy : four women undercover in the Civil War
Abbott, Karen, 1973- , author.
Publication Information:
[Ashland, Oregon] : Blackstone Audio, Inc. : Harper Audio, [2014]

Physical Description:
13 audio discs (915 min.) : digital, CD audio ; 4 3/4 in.
"... author Karen Abbott tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything - their homes, their families and their very lives - during the Civil War."-container.
General Note:
Compact disc.

"Tracks every 3 minutes for easy bookmarking"--Container.
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E608 .A22 2014C Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
E608 .A22 2014C Adult Audiobook on CD Being fixed/mended

On Order



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 farm girl, 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.

Author Notes

Karen Abbott was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She worked as a journalist for several years at Philadelphia magazine and Philadelphia Weekly. She also wrote for and other publications. She has written several books including Sin in the Second City and American Rose.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Abbott (Sin in the Second City, 2007; American Rose, 2010) is attuned to women's social history. In her latest slice of female Americana, she tackles the Civil War. Not all females stayed put and kept the home fires burning as the U.S. disintegrated. Four extraordinary women, by dint of a combination of creativity, cunning, and chutzpah, bravely defied nineteenth-century gender norms and expectations, doing all they could do to support their chosen sides. Spitfire Emma Edwards disguised herself as a man and joined the Union Army. Belle Boyd became a teenage courier and a Confederate spy. Rose Greenhow, a Washington, D.C.-based seductress, aided the rebel cause by using her feminine wiles to wrest secrets from unsuspecting males. Wealthy abolitionist Elizabeth Van Lew orchestrated an intricate network of Union spies. This inspiring collective biography reads like a novel while shedding some much-needed light on fascinating chapters in both Civil War and women's history.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this gripping book, Abbott (Sin in the Second City) tells the moving and fascinating story of four women who played unconventional roles during the Civil War: Belle Boyd, a boisterous flirt and Confederate spy; Rose Greenhow, a seductive widow also spying for the South; Emma Edmondson, who disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Union army; and Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy spinster in the Confederate capital with Unionist loyalties. Meticulously researched and fluidly written, this book draws the reader in and doesn't let go until the four heroines draw their final breaths. Abbott provides an alternate view of this tumultuous time in history by featuring previously untold stories of the impact women and civilians had on the war effort, and she brings these individuals fully to life, with their passion for their causes (Elizabeth for abolitionism, Rose for the Confederacy), personal flaws (Rose was racist and self-involved, Belle was impulsive and vain), and heartbreak (Emma by two different men, Belle for an opposing spy). For example, in an era when men had trouble even picturing women in pants, Emma Edmondson enlisted as a man in the Union army and saw action in her roles as both spy and nurse. In the end, Abbott tells a remarkable story of passion, strength, and resilience. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

In this riveting work, Abbott (Sin in the Second City) tells the story of the Civil War through the eyes of four women who dared to risk everything to serve as spies for their respective causes. Unlike biographical works such as Larry G. Eggleston's Women in the Civil War that devote a chapter to each subject, these women's tales move from one account to the next throughout the years. The result is a highly entertaining narrative with the pace and tone of a novel, albeit one told from the singular viewpoint of women who had an unusual amount of access to both Union and Confederate military and political leaders. Of particular interest are references to Mary Bowser, whose placement inside Jefferson Davis's household by her employer Elizabeth Van Lew is a missed opportunity for a broader perspective on undercover activities. Extensive research drawn from analysis of personal papers, newspapers, and official records provides authentic dialog, and the author takes great care in noting discrepancies or questionable claims. VERDICT This fresh perspective on what is perhaps a familiar story will cause readers to ponder the fine line between traitors and patriots. [See Prepub Alert, 1/10/14.]-Barbara Ferrara, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.