Synopses & Reviews
An Amazon Best Book of 2014
A Library Journal
Best Book of 2014
A Christian Science Monitor
Best Book of 2014
Rose O'Neal Greenhow
Elizabeth Van Lew
In Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, bestselling 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.
Seventeen-year-old Belle Boyd, an avowed rebel with a dangerous temper, shot a Union soldier in her home and became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her considerable charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man to enlist as a Union private named Frank Thompson, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the war and infiltrating enemy lines, all the while fearing that her past would catch up with her. The beautiful widow Rose O'Neal Greenhow engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians, used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals, and sailed abroad to lobby for the Confederacy, a journey that cost her more than she ever imagined. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring—even placing a former slave inside the Confederate White House—right under the noses of increasingly suspicious rebel detectives.
Abbott's pulse-quickening narrative weaves the adventures of these four forgotten daredevils into the tumultuous landscape of a broken America, evoking a secret world that will surprise even the most avid enthusiasts of Civil War-era history. With a cast of real-life characters, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, Detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoléon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy shines a dramatic new light on these daring—and, until now, unsung—heroines.
“Karen Abbotts 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.” < b=""> Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of < i=""> Devil in the Grove <> <>
“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.” < b=""> Lydia Netzer, author of the < i=""> New York Times <> notable book < i=""> 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.” < b=""> Robert Hicks, < i=""> New York Times <> bestselling author of < i=""> The Widow of the South <> and < i=""> A Separate Country <> <>
“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. ” < b=""> Michael Korda, < i=""> NY Times <> bestselling biographer of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, and T. E. Lawrence <>
“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.” < b=""> Amanda Foreman, author of the award-winning best sellers < i=""> Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire <> and < i=""> A World on Fire: A Epic History of Two Nations Divided <> <>
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. < b=""> Megan Abbott, Edgar-award winning and < i=""> New York Times <> bestselling author of < i=""> 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.” < b=""> Joshilyn Jackson, < i=""> New York Times <> bestselling author of < i=""> Gods in Alabama <> and < i=""> Someone Else's Love Story <> <>
The subjects of Karen Abbotts 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. < b=""> Deborah Blum, < em=""> New York Times < m=""> bestselling author of < em=""> The Poisoner's Handbook < m=""> <>
“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.” < b=""> Erik Larson, bestselling author of < em=""> Devil in the White City < m=""> <>
“Gripping... a remarkable story of passion, strength, and resilience.” < b=""> < em=""> Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) < m=""> <>
“Not for nothing has Abbott been called a ‘pioneer of sizzle history. Here she creates a gripping page-turner that moves at a breathtaking clip through the dramatic events of the Civil War.” < b=""> Los Angeles Times <>
“Engrossing…Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is conscientiously researched and smoothly written and structured.” < b=""> Wall Street Journal <>
“A revelation... Abbott profiles four [women], sometimes weaving, sometimes stacking their stories together into a compelling narrative.” < b=""> 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.” < b=""> Los Angeles Review of Books <>
“Compelling... Karen Abbott stitches together a patchwork narrative as complex as a piece quilt, combining colorful, unrelated tales of four women who fought in the Civil War as surely as Lee and Grant... she proves the basic purpose of history, which is to illuminate the past for ones time.” < b=""> Washington Times <>
“Karen Abbotts 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 its nonfiction.” < b=""> Christian Science Monitor <>
“[Abbott] obviously has a strong interest in women who decline to accept the roles society tries to force them into...her prose is vivid, especially when she writes about battles and the terrible costs they exact.” < b=""> Washington Post <>
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 ONeale 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 author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose, both New York Times bestsellers. She is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine's history blog, Past Imperfect, and also writes for Disunion, the New York Times series about the Civil War. Her forthcoming book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy tells the true story of four female Civil War spies, and will be published by HarperCollins in September. A native of Philadelphia, where she worked as a journalist, she now lives in New York City.