This book is a tough one to review. On one hand, reading about women masquerading as men in order to fight in the Civil War for love or patriotism was inspiring and fascinating. On the other hand, the author tended to make the same points over and over again, like a thesis student attempting to turn her 150 page thesis into a 200 page thesis in order to make her professors think she did more work. For any of you out there that have had to write theses, you know what I’m talking about (I’m one of them – having done an 80-page thesis in college in order to graduate, and yes, it was padded from 60 pages (the topic was an analysis of the youth culture of the 1960s and how they shaped the decade)).
The women outlined in the book (and truly, this book was just one big outline – almost like a textbook in it’s clinical exploration of these women) were quite interesting. Some joined to be with their boyfriends or husbands. Others to be with fathers or brothers. Others because they had no other choice in order to support themselves (men got paid significantly more than women in their normal lives, and no-females-allowed combat pay was even higher than that). There were two or three women described in the book who would make for a fascinating movie and I’m curious as to whether those stories have been optioned (surely they have, but if not, I’d love to take a stab at writing a screenplay).
But again, the drawback is the constant repetition by the author.
Another plus is that the author shows heavy documentation for her research. The appendix takes up over 70 pages. That’s a LOT of research.
I do recommend the book if you are a Civil War buff (I’m not, but I AM a history buff). Just be prepared for the feeling of deja vu.
Lastly, I only saw when I began reading the book that whoever gave it to me actually had the author sign the cover page (I *think* Uncle Bill gave this to me a couple years ago). I don’t think I remember seeing that when the book was given to me. So thank you to the gift-giver for taking the time to get it signed for me.
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