Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Fascinating New HERstory Book Brings Women's Civil War Contributions to Light

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you were asked to name women who made important contributions to the Civil War—on either side of the conflict—who would you list?  Clara Barton is the one who comes quickest to my mind, followed by Harriet Tubman.  After that ... um ... I got nothing.  Of all the thousands of women who served, sacrificed, and risked their lives to help with the war effort, it's natural that many of their names and deeds have been lost to time.  It's astounding, though, that certain women—all of whom performed unique, impressive, and courageous actions—are not household names.  

Perhaps that will change with the publication of Marianne Monson's newest book, Women of the Blue & Gray.  A follow-up to her Frontier Grit (2016), this volume features a wide cross-section of females who aided the war effort as spies, soldiers, scouts, nurses, doctors, abolitionists, cooks, political activists, reformers, revolutionaries, and more.  The women were wealthy, destitute, educated, illiterate, married, single, widows, mothers, childless, white, black, Native American, and so on.  What they have in common is incredible stories, most of which I hadn't heard before.  If you, like me, are not familiar with the many contributions made by women during the war, I urge you to pick up this book.  It makes for fascinating reading.

Although I found all of Women of the Blue & Gray engrossing, some sections interested me more than others.  I love that Monson includes "Further Reading" lists with every chapter.  That way, I can delve on my own into the subjects that interested me most (women disguising themselves as men to serve beside their husbands, brothers, and fathers for instance).  The book's concluding chapter, "Pathways to Peace" is an especially touching finale, discussing efforts made after the war
to promote forgiveness and looking forward instead of backward. 

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Women of the Blue & Gray.  It's interesting, engaging, touching, and inspiring.  I'm passing it on to my 16-year-old feminist daughter, who I know will be just as awed as I was by the incredible stories within its pages.

(Readalikes:  The chapters on women disguising themselves as men in order to fight in the Civil War remind me of I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe. I'm sure They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook is also similar, although I haven't read it yet.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Women of the Blue & Gray from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain.  Thank you!

5 comments:

  1. I love that this book exists, I should get it for my social studies teachers to ensure that they include women in their telling of the Civil War.

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    Replies
    1. Great idea! There are some really fascinating stories in this book that kids -- especially girls -- will find intriguing and empowering.

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  2. Good to know about this one. These stories are important.

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  3. This book sounds completely fascinating! I'm going to watch for it. I'm so happy that these stories and others are being publicized these days. It's about time, right?

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  4. I'm glad they're publishing more books like this one. These are such great stories, they deserve to be told!

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