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Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy

Northern sympathizer in the Confederate capital, daring spymaster, postwar politician: Elizabeth Van Lew was one of the most remarkable figures in American history. In Southern Lady, Yankee Spy, historian Elizabeth Varon provides a gripping, richly researched account of the woman who led what one historian called "the most productive espionage operation of the Civil War." Van Lew's spy ring — which included Mary Bowser, a black woman who actually went undercover in the Confederate White House — gathered intelligence, hampered the Southern war effort, and helped scores of Union soldiers to escape from Richmond prisons.

Varon describes a woman who was very much a product of her time and place, yet continually took controversial stands — from her early efforts to free her family's slaves, to her daring wartime activities and beyond. She used the stereotypes of the day to confound Confederate authorities (who suspected her, but could not believe a proper Southern lady could be a spy), even as she brought together Union sympathizers at all levels of society, from slaves to slaveholders. Varon's account rescues her from both derision and oblivion, depicting an intelligent, resourceful, highly principled woman who remained, as she saw it, true to her country to the end.

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Product Details

Recommended Age Adults
Author Elizabeth R. Varon
ISBN 0195179897
Publication Date Mar 24, 2005
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
Language English