Review: The Secrets of Mary Bowser | Undercover With Everything to Lose

The Secrets of Mary Bowser
Lois Leveen (2012)

After her education in the North, a freed slave woman named Mary Bowser returns to the capital of the Confederacy to pose as a slave to her former mistress, a member of a prominent Richmond family who is secretly working as a Union spy. Based on a true story, this little-known episode of Civil War history is vibrantly brought to life, told from Mary’s perspective as she sacrifices her own freedom, ekes out an existence in a city crumbling under siege, and serves for a time in the Confederate White House, spying on Jefferson Davis during the darkest days of the conflict. Author Leveen weaves an intriguing personal narrative with history to create a moving witness tale to the fall of Richmond and the dramatic end of the Civil War.


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