Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War Audiobook, by Karen Abbott Play Audiobook Sample

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

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War Audiobook, by Karen Abbott Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Karen White Publisher: HarperAudio Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 10.17 hours at 1.5x Speed 7.63 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: September 2014 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9780062332165

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

38:00 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

13 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

16:02 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Other Audiobooks Written by Karen Abbott: > View All...

Publisher Description

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 O’Neale 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.

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“You can get away with quite a lot if no one takes you very seriously…Women were largely dismissed as flighty, inferior creatures in Victorian times. That attitude helped several become some of the most effective spies of the Civil War. Again and again, the women who are the focus of Karen Abbott’s exciting Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War came close to discovery or death, only to be saved by their enemies’ sexism. Not that Belle Boyd, Rose Greenhow, Emma Edmonds, and Elizabeth Van Lew were ordinary women. They were all strong-minded, daring, and difficult…This is compelling material, and…Abbott brings these ‘unspoken heroes’ to life with a gripping, interwoven narrative that tells their stories with all the suspense of a spy novel.”

— BookPage 


  • “Karen Abbott’s 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.”

    — Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
  • “Thrilling, illuminating, heart-pounding. Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy reads like a crackling espionage novel…Abbott brings to vivid life four extraordinary and audacious women and runs glorious roughshod over all our traditional notions of the role of women in the Civil War.”

    — Megan Abbott, Edgar Award–winning and New York Times bestselling author
  • “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.”

    — Michael Korda, New York Times bestselling author
  • “Beautifully written, meticulously researched, and paced like an edge-of-your-seat-novel—I love this big, ambitious, unstoppable book.”

    — Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author
  • “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.”

    — Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author
  • “Smithsonian magazine history blogger Karen Abbott has done it again. The journalist whose Sin in the Second City won her USA Today praise as a ‘pioneer of sizzle history’ has written another absorbing true tale of extraordinary women. The four talented feminine operatives of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy all displayed a willingness to put their lives—and often their bodies—on the line to aid their side in the War between the States…It will surprise no reader of this book that Erik Larson hailed its author as ‘the John le Carré of Civil War espionage’—with the added benefit that the saga she tells is all true and beautifully researched.”

    — Barnes&, editorial review
  • “In this gripping book, Abbott (Sin in the Second City) tells the moving and fascinating story of four women who played unconventional roles during the Civil War…Meticulously researched and fluidly written, this book draws the reader in and doesn’t let go until the four heroines draw their final breaths. Abbott provides an alternate view of this tumultuous time in history by featuring previously untold stories of the impact women and civilians had on the war effort, and she brings these individuals fully to life, with their passion for their causes, personal flaws, and heartbreak…Abbott tells a remarkable story of passion, strength, and resilience.”

    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “This inspiring collective biography reads like a novel while shedding some much-needed light on fascinating chapters in both Civil War and women’s history.”

    — Booklist
  • “Four Civil War subversives—who happened to be women—garner a lively treatment…Abbott proceeds chronologically, navigating the historical record through quotes and personal detail. Remarkable, brave lives rendered in a fluidly readable, even romantic history lesson.”

    — Kirkus Reviews
  • “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.”

    — Lydia Netzer, author of the New York Times Notable Book Shine Shine Shine
  • “A masterpiece of narrative storytelling, backed by impeccable research and extraordinary material. I was gripped by every page.”

    — Amanda Foreman, award-winning author


  • One of BookPage Top Pick of September 2014
  • A Library Journal Best Book of 2014
  • A New York Times bestseller

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About Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose. She is a regular contributor to, and also writes for Disunion, the New York Times series about the Civil War. A native of Philadelphia, where she worked as a journalist, she now lives with her husband and two African Grey parrots in New York City. Visit her online at

About Karen White

Karen White has been narrating audiobooks of all genres since 1999. Honored to be included in AudioFile’s Best Voices, she’s also a four-time Audie Finalist and has earned multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards and Library Journal starred reviews.