Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trailer Park Tuesday: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

In the past 150 years, literature about the Civil War has piled up deep as stacks of corpses at Antietam.  You think you've read everything there was to know about that four-year struggle?  Think again.  Karen Abbott's Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is a fresh cannonball shot across the book-littered battlefield.  The trailer for the new book by the author of American Rose and Sin in the Second City comes at us fast and furious (an earnest Ms. Abbott has a lot to say in just 90 seconds), so let me slow it down a notch with this info from the publisher's website:
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.
Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City, had this to say about Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: "With this book, Karen Abbott declares herself the John le CarrĂ© of Civil War espionage, with the added benefit that the saga she tells is all true and beautifully researched.  Her four protagonists, exuding charm, adept at skulduggery, take us on a sweeping and bloody jaunt across the Civil War landscape, into an intimate realm of warfare that will yield for even the most hard-core Civil War buff a wholly fresh perspective on those deadly days."  For a taste of what Larson was talking about, here are a couple of sample paragraphs from the opening of the book:
      In the town of Martinsburg on the lower tip of the Valley, a seventeen-year-old rebel named Belle Boyd sat by the windows of her wood-frame home, waiting for the war to come to her. It was July 4 and the war was still new, only two and a half months old, but Belle—known by one young rival as “the fastest girl in Virginia or anywhere else for that matter”—had long been accustomed to things operating on her schedule, and at her whim.
      She tracked the progress of Union forces as they stormed down from the North, all those boys sweating and filthy under blue wool coats, lean as the rifles slung at their sides—nearly fifteen thousand of them, a few as young as thirteen, away from their mothers for the very first time. She felt they had no respect at all, waving American flags with the stars of thirty-four states when eleven no longer belonged. Two days prior, on July 2, about thirty-five hundred of them crossed the Potomac, slipped through a gap in the Blue Ridge mountains, and trampled across the lush sprawl of the Shenandoah Valley to face the Southern army at Falling Waters—a “romantic spot,” in Belle’s opinion, eight miles from her home. There Confederate colonel Thomas Jackson was waiting with four cannon and 380 boys of his own. When the rebels retreated, they left the field scattered over with blankets and canteens and, most regrettably to Belle, only twenty-one Yankee wounded and three Yankee dead.
As you can see in the book's trailer, Karen Abbott is an enthusiastic, energetic promoter of her work.  I recently discovered the Wonders & Marvels blog ("The Sex Life of Dogs in the 18th Century," anyone?), which has been featuring Abbott's book in their weekly email newsletters.  These dispatches arrive in my inbox packed like a picnic basket with extra goodies which only enhance the flavor of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.  If you are at all interested in the Civil War, spy thrillers or writing that flies at you like cannonballs, you should subscribe.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, I am not related to Emma Edmonds (or Walter Edmonds) that I know of. Child B likes the name "Emma" for some reason and would, I think, like to have been named Emma, but we didn't go that way and I think she'll be much happier that way.