I am embarrassed to admit I knew very little about the Civil War before I read “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.” How is it that I have read dozens and dozens of books about WW2 and nothing about the Civil War?
This book is a work of non fiction and follows 4 women who went undercover during the Civil War. These four women were spies who provided intelligence to the military for the side of the war they supported.
The first woman posed as a man to enlist as a soldier. During her military service she was recruited to be a spy . While undercover, several times she/he had instructions to pose as a woman. (A woman posing as a man posing as a woman- a little complicated!) I learned that there were as many as 400 women who pretended to be men so they could enlist as soldiers in the war.
The second and third women relied on their female charms to gather intelligence. Wowza!
And the fourth woman was a wealthy spinster who cleverly used her servants to gather intelligence.
The methods they used were crude but interesting and their early work provided important contributions to the generals and leaders of the war.
The book was politically balanced as two of the spies were “Unionists” and two were “Confederates.” Frankly, when I began I wasn’t sure which of these terms described “the north” and which was “the south.” This lack of knowledge led me to the wiki to do Civil War research to get the terminology and my history up to speed.
To be honest, the book was a bit hard to read because of the level of detail, length and difficulty in following 4 different characters. Yet, I am glad I read it because learning about history is good and seems even more relevant during this election cycle. (Make it end, please I can hardly take it anymore!)
So if you have the time and attention for a well researched and written book about four feisty women who made a difference during the Civil War, read the book.