The Secrets of Mary Bowser

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

Book - 2012
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"Based on the true story of Mary Bowser, a freed slave who returns to Virginia to spy on the Confederates, The secrets of Mary Bowser is the powerful story of a woman who must sacrifice her freedom to truly achieve it"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: London : Hodder, 2012.
ISBN: 9781444736250
Characteristics: 450 p. ; 20 cm.


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Apr 02, 2015

Unlike several other books I have read lately which started well but fizzled, "The Secrets of Mary Bowser" built in interest and intensity as I progressed through the book. It's an imagined life story for a most impressive real historical person. The Civil-War-era Americans who were shaped by history and who made that history themselves come to life.

Oct 15, 2013

I very much enjoyed the first half of the book: the story of Mary's childhood and home life, her parents loving and relatively well-off (for slaves), but still under the constant threat of being sold away from each other. Even more interesting was Mary's emancipation, and her fish-out-of-water tale of going to school for the first time and coming out in Philadelphia's black society. For some reason I lost my momentum and felt less engaged with the second half, where Mary is spying in the Gray House. One thing that kind of got to me is that Mary believes herself responsible for all of the important Union victories of the Civil War, even suggesting that a major loss was only because she deliberately withheld information so that the war wouldn't end too quickly (before emancipation). And after a while the cycle of espionage, threat of discovery, old mistress commandeering Mary for some dangerous task, husband questioning wife's safety, but Mary deciding to do the dangerous task anyway, began to feel a little repetitive. Still, the writing was good and the story seems to be well-researched and historically accurate, which means a lot to me.

a fascinating story, well written, but perhaps went on for just a tad longer than necessary.

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