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Wild Rose: The True Story of a Civil War Spy

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  228 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
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 uni ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 23rd 2006 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2005)
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Gayle Francis Moffet
A solid biography that suffers from the decision to start with Rose's spying, then spend the middle of the book on her life before she became a spy, and then comes back to the ramifications of her spying for the last third of the book. It's a very interesting story, and to see how a woman brokered her power in such a way during a period when a woman's power was limited was fascinating, but there were probably two too many references to her wiles.

Be warned, she was pro-slavery and pro-Confederac
Marcia Seybold
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
BOOK CLUB CHOICE. At times it was difficult to read and she repeated the same story a couple of times in the beginning. I did enjoy it to a point but could have been written better. The last 3rd of the book was better than the beginning.
Dave Cavanaugh
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Capitol Hill socialite becomes a celebrated Confederate spy.
Tanis Allen

Found this hard to follow. Some interesting facts , lots of period related information . Just not interesting to me. Will stick to historical fiction.
Susan Ferguson
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history, 2016
I'm not sure I like Rose O'Neil Greenhow. She was awfully sure if herself, imperious, rude to those she disagreed with but could be quite charming, affectionate, endearing to those who were her friends. She was absolutely sure she was right on slavery - that it was the destiny of blacks. She didn't have but a few herself although her father was supposedly killed by one of his slaves when she was quite young. (I say supposedly, because the opinion of doctors was that he would have died from the i ...more
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rose O'Neale Greenhow generally merits little more than a footnote in most histories of the American Civil War, so it was fascinating to read an entire biography devoted to her. I'd heard about her role as a Civil War spy for the Confederacy, short-lived as it was: most notably her role in alerting Beauregard to Union troops movement that enabled him to bring up reinforcements which arguably led to the South winning the first battle of the Civil War, at Bull Run.

But her life before the Civil War
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is how biographies should be written. I was fascinated with Rose O'Neale Greenhow and the times she lived in. Family history is fascinating to me and I have found my ancestors who lived during the civil war period. Albeit, my ancestors were in rural towns and villages, and Rose O'Neale Greenhow lived in the midst of the political excitement, this book gave me the flavor of what political atmosphere of the time.

Rose Greenhow fascinates me. This story also doesn't pull any punches,
T.D. Smith
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an exhaustively researched yet easy to read retelling of Rose Greenhow's life. Blackman tells the story with an objective eye and the occasional editorial comment that Rose herself would likely have added.

I was a little disappointed in the lack of detail regarding Rose's spy ring, though it is not terribly surprising that such records were hastily destroyed, if they ever existed at all.

Blackman dwells on John C. Calhoun more than I found necessary, though this is surely due to his s
Eva Nickelson
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't normally get into Civil War books, but Blackman did an amazing job of bringing the time period to life. While the book's pacing was off, it was very interesting. Rose was an amazingly annoying woman, both arrogant and full of herself.

The story doesn't have a lot of papers to back it up, so Blackman uses what research she has. It jumbles up the pacing, but does offer interesting insights to the times and the people. Rose knew/socialized with quite a few well known politicians, including s
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. It had a great historical setting and an intriguing heroine, but somehow it just fell flat for me. I think part of the problem was the lack of surviving documents written by Rose herself, so the author had to rely on other sources and sometimes I felt I received the same information in multiple chapters. I'm not sorry I read this book as it was interesting to read about the Civil War through the lens of a female spy, but I felt it could have been much more capt ...more
Laura Burkholder
Jun 09, 2012 rated it liked it
For me, the beginning third of the book was a slow read. I am unsure if this was due to do many facts and back story, but by the middle and end, I was much more caught up in the story and trying to guess how it would end. The way Rose died seems so small and unnecessary compared to the history she ultimately helped form. It was a good reminder of how frail life can be.
Having visited ft fisher several times, the story took a much more interesting scope when Rose was finally in the south and the
Pudds Downing
Oct 25, 2009 rated it liked it
This book served to reinforce my belief that women have been largely and unfairly ignored in the telling of history. I will readily admit that my knowledge of the Civil War is not extensive, but I had never heard of the women spies who served their countries and risked everything during the war. While I do not agree with the stand that Rose took, I admire her courage and committment to her cause.
Sandra Sullivan
I love historical works and this was great. Read it a while ago and would even reread it.

This is from Novelist....

"Drawing on a previously unpublished journal, a profile of a remarkable woman describes the espionage career of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, a grande dame of Washington society and devotee of the Southern cause who used her connections and her charm to provide valuable information about Union military secrets to the Confederacy during the Civil War."
Mary Katherine Reid
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Well written engrossing story of Rose O'Neale Greenhow and her role as a spy during the Civil War. The background and details recreate an in-depth picture of life during the Civil War, I picked this up on a whim while at Fort Donelson with my brother on a summer road trip. "Rose defiant as ever, refused to buckle." this hardly matches the notion that woman during this period were meek and deferential.
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, although it was not so much a story about spying as it was a biographical and historical account of mostly Southern life and struggles during the War of Northern Aggression, Civil War, or War Between the States (wink). Rose did not apologize for her beliefs and was an advocate for the South even when she might have been better just pulling on the reins a bit. Tragic end to a remarkable life even if you did not agree with her.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every year when my classroom studies the Civil War I try to read a book about the time. This year I read the story of a Confederate spy. I enjoyed learning more about the times and how bold Rose was. There are parts in the book that is upsetting to today's standards about African slaves and how they were viewed.
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Incredibly well-researched book about a pretty fascinating woman. It was good timing to read this while living in the South and especially during all the Confederate flag controversy; excellent insight on racial discrimination and its links to the Confederacy. Wish Part 1 had been in its chronological sequence rather than at the beginning of the story.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, history
I picked up this book so I could see if doing my senior research project on female spies in the Civil War would be interesting and find something new to write about. While the book didn't cover much on the actual spycraft of women Confederate Spies, it was a very interesting read about one women's determination for her cause.
Kayla Skaggs
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the back story provided with this story. Who knew that there was a spy behind the Battle of Bull Run? Nonetheless a Confederate woman spy? I sure didn't! And why? Because they just don't teach you these things in school! This woman's life was pretty interesting, the things she did, the people she knew, and crazy how she died. But I won't ruin that for those who don't know about her yet!
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
The book is well written and moves at an excellent pace, which is challenging for historical non-fictions. That being said, Rose Greenhow was not a good person. She was imperious, rude, and refused to accept responsibility for her conduct. And I won't start on her beliefs related to slavery. Nonetheless, she played an interesting role in a terrible time in our nation.
Shala K.
Oct 06, 2008 rated it liked it
If you're expecting the story of a woman straight out of _Alias_, go elsewhere. Spycraft in the Civil War simply wasn't that advanced. Measured against our current standards, Rose Greenhow wasn't so much a spy as an extremely well-connected woman who was a very determined correspondent. Still, an interesting read.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it
While this is an enjoyable book, chock full of history, I wouldn't call it a book about Rose Greenhow. It's more a book about the period and it's affects on one woman and her family. It's not a true biography but still quite engaging.
Kathleen Hulser
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Historically a bit naive about the circumstances of loyalty and regional affiliation, but worthwhile for its exploration of the Washington, DC party/gossip/seduction nexus during the Civil War. Well-written and well-rounded as biography.
Feb 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
I didn't like it at all.
It was because of all the BORING facts and so on. I stopped reading it for a while,then picked it back up only because I had to write a book report on it. So, I therefore I don't reccomend it to anyone.
Hope Caldwell
Jan 28, 2012 rated it liked it
informative and readable non-fiction account of a real female Civil War spy. The book utilizes research including Rose's memoir and other accounts to tell the story of her life and activism. It's a wonderful glimpse into Civil War and pre-Civil War life in Washington, Richmond and Paris.
Sep 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a very compelling story and well told. Anyone who wants to get a full view of the civil war should read this book. This woman was a spitfire from the get go and the spy ring she created was a thorn in the Union side for a very long time.
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I appreciated the different side of the civil war from what I've read about or learned in the past. Rose was an amazing woman and truly a unique, fascinating, strong woman of those times. Liked the book. Found it moved a little slow sometimes, but still enjoyed.
Mar 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Karen by: Emilie
A good read regarding Pre Civil War. This book shows us the other side of history the side we don't often hear from, the loser of the war. The people are easy to identify with and show us how and why someone could believe in slavery and other things we may find ethically wrong.
Mike Shoop
Interesting bio, learned quite a bit about this notorious Confederate spy.
James Smithson
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading about Rose Greenhow and I felt as if I knew her once I had finished the book. When I visit the ocean and look at it I think of her and all that was lost.
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