Friday, January 23, 2009
I'll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by Anita Silvey
This book is both fascinating and frustrating. It tells the stories of many women who, disguised as men, fought in the American Civil War. This was not an isolated thing—we know for sure that hundreds of women did this for various reasons. Some for adventure, others to follow husbands or brothers, and others to escape from poverty. The stories that we do know about these women are fascinating. The frustrating part is that we will never know the details of most of these women's lives. There are many tidbits in this book (such as women giving birth as prisoners of war) that are so intriguing, yet we never can know the details of their dramatic lives (How did they hide it? What happened after they gave birth? What did their families back home think of them?). Silvey has researched these women for years and what is known is well-told in this book. It's particularly fascinating to look at the photos of some of these women, both in uniform and in traditional dress.