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Wild Rose: The True Story of a Civil War Spy (Paperback)
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For sheer bravado and style, no woman in the North or South rivaled the Civil War heroine Rose O’Neale Greenhow. Fearless spy for the Confederacy, glittering Washington hostess, legendary beauty and lover, Rose Greenhow risked everything for the cause she valued more than life itself. In this superb portrait, biographer Ann Blackman tells the surprising true story of a unique woman in history.
“I am a Southern woman, born with revolutionary blood in my veins,” Rose once declared–and that fiery spirit would plunge her into the center of power and the thick of adventure. Born into a slave-holding family, Rose moved to Washington, D.C., as a young woman and soon established herself as one of the capital’s most charming and influential socialites, an intimate of John C. Calhoun, James Buchanan, and Dolley Madison.
She married well, bore eight children and buried five, and, at the height of the Gold Rush, accompanied her husband Robert Greenhow to San Francisco. Widowed after Robert died in a tragic accident, Rose became notorious in Washington for her daring–and numerous–love affairs.
But with the outbreak of the Civil War, everything changed. Overnight, Rose Greenhow, fashionable hostess, become Rose Greenhow, intrepid spy. As Blackman reveals, deadly accurate intelligence that Rose supplied to General Pierre G. T. Beauregard written in a fascinating code (the code duplicated in the background on the jacket of this book). Her message to Beauregard turned the tide in the first Battle of Bull Run, and was a brilliant piece of spycraft that eventually led to her arrest by Allan Pinkerton and imprisonment with her young daughter.
Indomitable, Rose regained her freedom and, as the war reached a crisis, journeyed to Europe to plead the Confederate cause at the royal courts of England and France.
Drawing on newly discovered diaries and a rich trove of contemporary accounts, Blackman has fashioned a thrilling, intimate narrative that reads like a novel. Wild Rose is an unforgettable rendering of an astonishing woman, a book that will stand with the finest Civil War biographies.
About the Author
Ann Blackman is the author of Seasons of Her Life: A Biography of Madeleine Korbel Albright and co-author of The Spy Next Door, about the traitorous FBI agent Robert Hanssen. In her long career as a news reporter with Time magazine and the Associated Press, Blackman covered American politics, social policy, and the powerful personalities that make up Washington society. She is married to Michael Putzel. They have two grown children and live in the nation’s capital.
Praise for Wild Rose: The True Story of a Civil War Spy…
“Tales of Civil War spies are often full of embellished and romanticized derring-do. Not so with Ann Blackman’s thoroughly researched biography of Rose O’Neale Greenhow, whose remarkable life needs no embellishment. The story of Rebel Rose, told here with great skill and lucidity, illustrates yet again that truth is stranger than fiction.”
–James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
“This is a fascinating tale of intrigue and suspense. Blackman has discovered some truly remarkable, never-before-published papers that reveal how deeply involved Rose Greenhow was in the Confederate cause.”
–Cokie Roberts, National Public Radio commentator, author of Founding Mothers
“The first comprehensive story of a remarkable woman whose passion for the Southern cause was equal to that of any soldier who fought for southern independence. Well worth reading.”
–Jim Lighthizer, President, Civil War Preservation Trust
“For anyone wondering what role women played in shaping the course of history of the United States, Ann Blackman has an answer: Rose Greenhow. The story of Wild Rose has everything: power, intrigue, passion, and a clever, determined woman at the center. This is a great read.”
–Judy Woodruff, CNN anchor, Judy Woodruff’s Inside Politics
“Sexy, audacious, determined–Rose O’Neale Greenhow finally gets her due as a power player in American history. Relive the Civil War through the exploits of this Southern patriot, who dazzled Washington and Europe long before women were supposed to behave so boldly.”
–Lynn Sherr, ABC News correspondent, 20/20
“Ann Blackman has brought all the skills she honed as a Washington journalist to tell the story of a fascinating woman of the nineteenth century. Here is the Confederate spy–a courtier, a savvy Southerner, a rebel in her own right–shown with all her strengths and flaws.”
–Ellen Goodman, syndicated Boston Globe columnist