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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

Evening Lecture with Book Signing

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1C0036
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Karen Abbott’s newest book tells the remarkable true story of four women who risked everything—their homes, their families, and their lives—during the Civil War.

Seventeen-year-old Belle Boyd, a 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—under the noses of increasingly suspicious rebel detectives.

Abbott is the bestselling author of American Rose, a biography of Gypsy Rose Lee, and Sin in the Second City, about the battle to close Chicago’s vice districts in the early 20th century. She is a contributing writer on history for, and also writes for Disunion, the New York Times series about the Civil War. 

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy (HarperCollins) is available for signing.  


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)