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Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil Warby H Donald Winkler
Synopses & Reviews
Clandestine missions. Clever, devious, daring. Passionately committed to a cause.
During America's most divisive war, both the Union and Confederacy took advantage of brave and courageous women willing to adventurously support their causes. These female spies of the Civil War participated in the world's second-oldest profession-spying-a profession perilous in the extreme. The tales of female spies are filled with suspense, bravery, treachery, and trickery. They took enormous risks and achieved remarkable results-often in ways men could not do.
As stated on the grave marker of Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew:
She risked everything that is dear to man-friends, fortune, comfort, health, life itself.
Told with personality and pizzazz, author H. Donald Winkler uses primary Civil War sources such as memoirs, journals, letters, and newspaper articles, plus the latest in scholarly research, to make these incredible stories come alive.
"In this breezy overview of 36 women who spied for the Confederacy and the Union, Winkler (Lincoln's Ladies) tells 'stories of women spies...filled with suspense and seduction, treachery and trickery, romance and bravery.' Divided into chapters on each woman, Winkler finds his heroines equally appealing, no matter what side they spied for. He strongly sympathizes with Mary Surratt, who became the first woman executed by the U.S. government; although many female spies were caught, their gender saved them (it was not considered moral to hang women). Winkler argues that Surratt 'was not a spy and played no role on the night of Lincoln's assassination,' but was hanged, along with three male collaborators of John Wilkes Booth, 'primarily because of the dogged determination, vindictiveness, and unforgiving actions of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.' Winkler also includes an account of Harriet Tubman's services organizing slaves into a guerilla force behind enemy lines, but most of his stories are in a lighter vein, showing women using their charms to wheedle secrets from officers and soldiers. Although Winkler could have delved more deeply into gender issues in the 19th century, this effort entertains.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Book News Annotation:
Winkler, a journalist, historian, and retired university public affairs executive, describes how both sides of the Civil War used women as spies. He draws from memoirs, journals, letters, newspaper articles, and other research to document the spy work of women including Harriet Tubman, Rebecca Wright, Loreta Velazquez, Rose Greenhow, Elizabeth Baker, and Nancy Hart, and how these and other women concealed information across enemy lines, provided intelligence, used disguises, created ciphers, intercepted military dispatches, carried secret messages, medicines, and supplies on the rings of hoop skirts, and provided information about the enemy's fortifications, plans, troop size, and movements. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The first book in the Civil War category to focus solely on female spies
During America's most divisive war, both the Union and Confederacy took advantage of brave and courageous women willing to adventurously support their cause.
Harriet Tubman worked as a spy for the Union and led a regiment of black soldiers on a successful river raid.
Rose Greenhow operated one of the largest Confederate spy networks of the war, even while under 24/7 supervision by the Union Army.
Loreta Velazquez, disguised as a man, infiltrated the Union Army and was then hired to track down a female Confederate spy on the loose-herself! The tales of these women spies are filled with treachery, suspense, and seduction.
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