From Publishers Weekly
In this breezy overview of 36 women who spied for the Confederacy and the Union, Winkler (Lincoln's Ladies) tells "stories of women spies...filled with suspense and seduction, treachery and trickery, romance and bravery." Divided into chapters on each woman, Winkler finds his heroines equally appealing, no matter what side they spied for. He strongly sympathizes with Mary Surratt, who became the first woman executed by the U.S. government; although many female spies were caught, their gender saved them (it was not considered moral to hang women). Winkler argues that Surratt "was not a spy and played no role on the night of Lincoln's assassination," but was hanged, along with three male collaborators of John Wilkes Booth, "primarily because of the dogged determination, vindictiveness, and unforgiving actions of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton." Winkler also includes an account of Harriet Tubman's services organizing slaves into a guerilla force behind enemy lines, but most of his stories are in a lighter vein, showing women using their charms to wheedle secrets from officers and soldiers. Although Winkler could have delved more deeply into gender issues in the 19th century, this effort entertains.
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Don Winkler's Stealing Secrets is a first-rate contribution to the literature of Civil War espionage. His meticulously researched and straightforward accounts of some of the most effective female spies for both the Union and the Confederacy contrast sharply with many of the more fanciful stories that have appeared through the years. Fascinating to read, they convey the passion and depths of commitment these women brought to their warring causes. These are tales of "ideological motivation" at its best. (Peter Earnest, Executive Director International Spy Museum 2010-09-21)
See all Editorial Reviews
The reader will buy into the fact that truth is stranger than fiction. (New York Journal of Books 2010-09-01)
The book, Winkler's fourth, is another winner. It's comprehensive, covering women who were famous and obscure, served on both sides of the conflict, and were from society's highest circles and humble backgrounds. It's chock-full of information, including anecdotes and trivia, is written in Winkler's highly readable style, and is very nicely illustrated. The cover is gorgeous. (Farmville Herald 2010-09-24)
A fascinating read that opens new insights into the secret world behind the military operations, WInkler's treatise is first rate and enjoyable. (Cannonball 2010-10-10)
Told with personality and pizzazz, author H. Donald Winkler uses primary Civil War sources such as memoirs, journals, letters, and newspaper articles, plus the latest in scholarly research, to make these incredible stories come alive.
(Night Owl Reviews 2010-10-11)
You do not need to be a history buff or an expert in the Civil War expert to understand and appreciate the contributions that these women made. You too will be amazed at everything that they did to further their cause! (Dad of Divas 2010-10-10)
It is comprehensive on the lives of the women who aided in the war, and who they assisted during that time. It's an inspirational read for young woman, and women's studies students, who could respect strong-willed women who worked hard and made a great difference during a large and important war.
(Snitch Seeker 2010-10-12)
Stealing Secrets is an attractive volume that is well presented and written. Its accessibility of subject matter and style should ensure that it appeals to a wide audience, ranging from those who are interested in the course of the American Civil War to those who are intrigued by any works to do with espionage and the role of women in conflict. (Bookpleasures.com 2010-10-20)
A lively addendum to Civil War collections. (Library Journal 2010-10-15)
The book was well done with enough interesting side notes to make the lengthy tome worth reading. Winkler's research, descriptions and detail with an eye for accuracy make "Stealing Secrets" interesting and lively.
(Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier 2010-10-25)
Historian and author, H. Donald Winkler has turned his remarkable research abilities on the topic of female spies during the Civil War. The result is his highly entertaining book, Stealing Secrets."
Stealing Secrets offers up stories that Ian Fleming would have been proud to write. Winkler fills the pages with intrigue, romance, double-dealing, daring nighttime escapes and bold daylight heroics.
(Internet Review of Books 2010-11-27)
"Stealing Secrets" by H. Donald Winkler is a fascinating look at the under-explored world of female espionage during the Civil War. This is a wonderful addition to the bookcases of Civil War fans, history buffs, and anyone who enjoys reading about people facing danger and intrigue.
(Night Owl Reviews 2010-12-06)
Winkler tells the stories as historically accurate but easy enough for anyone to read even if you don't know that much about the Civil War. But there is enough context and historical information to make it interesting to those who are very interested in matters of the Civil War. (Simply Stacie 2011-04-29)