Author: Karen Abbott
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: Some of the most exciting narrative nonfiction I’ve read. All four stories are brought vividly to life, with great detail and accuracy.
The four women in this book are very different but they also have a lot in common. Two of them were Confederates and two were loyal to the Union. They each had different motivations, from Belle Boyd’s pursuit of notoriety to Emma Edmonds’ desire to provide medical aid to soldiers on the battlefield. However, they all shared common attributes, including their bravery, their dedication to their work, and their ability to influence the outcome of the war.
I can tell you right now that this book is going to be one of my favorite narrative nonfiction books of the year (or that I’ve read ever). The author did an incredible job doing her research and bringing the stories to life. She includes descriptions of weather, scenery, and fascinating details of daily life during the civil war. She also did a fantastic job choosing her subjects. The four women in this book were incredibly impressive people and I loved reading about their adventures. Elizabeth Van Lew was by far my favorite, for her willingness to risk her own life and reputation to end slavery and for the huge impact she had on the war, but all of the women described were incredible.
I expected this book to share the four women’s’ stories one after the other, but instead the author moved forward chronologically and switched between stories as necessary. This format really worked for me. It meant the author didn’t repeat information in each story, but she did cover the same time period from multiple perspectives, giving me more chances to learn about the progress of the Civil War. I loved that the author made it clear when she was believed that the four women had exaggerated their own contributions. I also loved the number of direct quotes the author seamlessly worked into the narrative. This is some of the best narrative nonfiction I’ve read and one of the most interesting stories. Highly recommended!