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Behind Rebel Lines

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,609 ratings  ·  231 reviews
In 1861, when war erupted between the States, President Lincoln made an impassioned plea for volunteers. Determined not to remain on the sidelines, Emma Edmonds cropped her hair, donned men’s clothing, and enlisted in the Union Army. Posing in turn as a slave, peddler, washerwoman, and fop, Emma became a cunning master of disguise, risking discovery and death at every turn ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 1988)
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Rebecca The back of my son's book (they are reading as a class, fifth grade) says ages 10-14.

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“But how could you know the limits of your courage if you never put it to the test?”
― Seymour Reit, Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy

This book is at once educational, inspiring and just fascinating.

Emma Edmonds  was a smart and I'd say fearless, woman who was just a girl during the Civil War. She wanted to help the Northerners in battle but how could she? Women, after all, were not allowed to fight. And she did not want to stay on the edges doing something l
Kim Savage
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very good historical read about a woman disguising herself as a man during the Civil War. She was a master of disguises and was a successful spy crossing the enemy lines many times to bring back important info to the Union army. Really enjoyed this. Easy read, really captures a reader’s interest. Suspenseful. Good YA for a Social Studies or History student.
Mr. Gottshalk
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this quick little read about a woman who volunteers for the Union Army during the Civil War - disguised as a man! She had some great adventures and was incredibly lucky to stay alive, as she ended up going behind enemy lines on 11 missions. To fully understand the book, I feel that young readers need some background on the Civil War...there are a lot of names and places which can be confusing.
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book for school and I ended up really liking it! I learned so much about the civil war and Emma Edmonds is now one of my new favourite historical characters.
Apr 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
“Behind rebel lines” is the story of Emma Edmonds. She is a woman who disguises herself as a man to serve in the Union Army during the United States Civil War.I found the story to be personally inspirational. I feel that young readers will have similar responses. Particularly female readers, stories of this type are predominately told with male role models. This book shows that women are strong, capable, and proficient.
I however, didn't care for the style of the book. First off, I understand t
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Another historical novel set during the Civil War. Unfortunately not very well written, but it's a quick read and a fascinating story with some basis in fact. About a woman who disguised herself to enlist and endup on special spy missions. It felt like the author didn't do enough research, the asute young reader will discover holes in the story's believability.
Susan Summers
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
Really interesting, quick read, biography about a young Canadian woman who served as a spy for the Union troops during the Civil War. Her refusal to be limited by societal restrictions rings as important today as in the 19th century..
Lilly Duke
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think this was a very good, quick, and interesting book.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
The story itself was very interesting and included amazing feats done by the real Emma Edmonds, but enriching details were lacking. At many points, events were looked over and explained with a simple sentence. I understand it is nonfiction and scenes can't be added, but that's not what's missing. It's the details that provide a better sense of what was happening or even what she was feeling. In the end, the story was diluted with with missing emotions and details.
Many know the tales of women, disguised as men, who fought and spied during the great Civil War, yet how often do we really take the time to delve deeper to see what they experienced? This author takes you on a suspenseful journey with Emma Edmonds (or as Private Franklin Thompson, or a slave named Cuff, or Bridget O'Shea an Irish peddler, etc.) and her harrowing travels as a spy for the Union and an army nurse disguised as a man. Emma is one of the most famous civil war lady spies because not o ...more
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is actually a true story about a girl, Emma Edmonds, who managed to conceal her female identity and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Seymour Reit published this book in 1988 using Emma's own memoirs & his own research.

In 1861, when war erupted between the States, President Lincoln made an impassioned plea for volunteers. Determined not to remain on the sidelines, Em ...more As a passionate 16 year old, Emma Edmonds ran away from her Canadian home and to the land of freedo
Valerie McEnroe
Emma Edmonds was a Canadian woman who duped the Union Army into believing she was a man. She joined up with the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan, serving as a nurse. McClellan's plan was to move up the eastern peninsula past Williamsburg to take the Confederate capital at Richmond. McClellan didn't like attacking without knowing the enemy's plan so he used spies to infiltrate the Confederate camps. Emma, known to everyone as Franklin Thompson, was selected to be a spy. She fulfilled s ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A person requires much courage if they are going to become a soldier.
It took a woman of great courage & bravery to freely decide to join the Union army of the Civil War.

Although most people didn't know at the time, several women (at least 400) joined the army undercover during the Civil War, and no one ever suspected it. At the age of 21, that is what Emma Edmonds, a Canadian-born, did. This book fictionalizes her true story. Emma Edmonds enlisted under the name of Franklin Thompson, but it didn
Franklin Thompson, private in the Union Army; Cuff, contraband Slave; Bridget O'Shea, Irish Peddler; Charles Mayberry, Southern gentleman; alias Emma Edmonds.
Seymour Reit tells the story of Emma Edmonds, a young woman who did not want to stand on the sidelines during the Civil War. Edmonds disguised herself and became Private Franklin Thompson serving as a field nurse and eventually donning more disguises and crossing Confederate lines as a spy for the Union.
Reit created a very enjoyable biograp
Wolf (Alpha)
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked that Emma was determined to be in the army. I liked that she didn't give up when she went on her spy trips and that she got a souvenier for the trips. I like that she was creative and came up with different types of outfits and disguises. I felt bad for her when she went to see James and found out that he was dead. I really like Emma and look up to her.
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
The true story of a Emma Edmonds, a young Canadian girl who came to the U.S. and enlisted in the Union forces in 1861. Disguised as a man (the author shares that as many as 400 women served during the Civil War as men) she worked first as a nurse and then became a spy. She disguised herself as a slave and an Irish peddlar woman among others. She is was smart, brave, careful and lucky which made her a successful spy.
Great little piece of history combined with thrilling Civil War plotting and stra
Jun 04, 2009 rated it liked it
I liked it ,but I had to read it for school so I didn't have alot of time to actually reread parts I didn't understand.I think I would give it a better rating if I would read it again.
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved-it
I love this book and the woman's courage. I am glad she finally got recognized for what she did .
Stacy M. Patton
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the true story of Emma Edmonds, who was a Civil War spy and true hero for the Union army.

Emma at 21 longed to do more to help the cause then just nurse in the hospitals from afar. Back in those days, women were not allowed to nurse on the battlefield. But Emma was different then most women. She had run away from an abusive father in Canada at the age of 16. Growing up, her father had treated her like a boy, and rough farm work, along with boys clothes had become her life. When she ran a
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Behind Rebel Lines by Seymour Reit (historical fiction)

Emma Edmonds is a real girl who was 21 years old when she joined the Civil War dressed as a man. Emma has to keep this a secret because if someone finds out she will be in big trouble. Many women did this but Emma’s story is far more exciting. In the book Behind Rebel Lines, Emma works as a doctor in a field hospital for the U.S. army. One day a rumor spreads that the spy for the U.S. army had died and they needed someone to take his place.
Amelia Barnum
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Behind Rebel Lines tells the incredible true story of a woman who dresses up as a man to fight for the Union cause of the Civil War. A 128 page-er, I found it uncomplicated, and a very quick read for me, a 13 year old. I read this in my history class and enjoyed it very much. I found it just as exciting and interesting as a work of fiction might be. The story of the protagonist is so astonishing that I kept having to remind myself that it was a true story because what this women accomplished was ...more
Lucy Stein
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Behind Rebel Lines, a thrilling and exciting historical fiction adventure

If you are looking for a very informative, detailed and fact-heavy book, this is not the book for you. Since this is technically a historical fiction book the author had to make guesses about Emma Edmonds’ life so not everything is completely true. It does, however, use pages out of her memoirs, historians accounts of her life and different army documents. At 122 pages the book is definitely short and sweet, I personally li
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
The story itself is okay. I was surprised (and happy) to know about Emma Edmonds, a spy for the Union side in the Civil War. It pleased me that as a woman, Edmonds had the courage to disguise herself multiple times in order to receive information for her side, and help the army even when they permitted only men to fight for them. I liked that Edmonds helped her side without them even knowing, proving how valuable a woman's skill set can prove to be if she is given the chance.

What I had a problem
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a no nonsense, straight forward true story of a women who pretended to be a man so she could join the Union Army. Emma starts out working in a hospital. After learning that a friend she know years ago is also in the Army and has just been killed, she wants to do more. She ends up becoming a spy for the Union. Her "ultra-egos" are WONDERFUL! How her career ends is so very sad. It made me stop and think about what she went through in the 1860s to hide her gender from everyone (except the ...more
Ellen Marquis-Boutin
Behind Rebel Lines by Seymour Reit is an information packed book but also has a great story line. It starts off with Emma Edmonds from Canada in, 1860, who desperately wants to help her country and fight in the Civil War for the union side. But of course she is a woman, and they will never let a woman fight in the Civil War. She dresses up as a man and now calls herself Frank Thompson. She goes with all of the other men to volunteer to help in the war. Emma's disguise worked and she became a fie ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a really interesting and quick biography of Emma Edmonds, a daring woman who went undercover as a man during the Civil War—first as a combat nurse, and then as a Union spy sneaking over enemy lines to gather information for Union generals. Her adventures are interesting for sure. And it's great to hear how a woman played a really critical role for the Union cause during some important battles. But this book was clearly written by someone white, which does a real disservice to the story. ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Emma... Oh, where do I start?
Emma Edmonds was one of the most amazing human beings I've ever heard of. Her heart never let her go down without a fight, and that illuminated the path to victory for thousands of tortured slaves in the South.
In spite of this being a weekend read for my ninth-grade U.S. History class, I was absorbed in the way compassion proved to be the sharpest weapon of all, and Emma lived on not only as a strong, relentless soldier, but a caring nurse and loving wife and mother
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Immensely Readable

This is the story of a real-life Civil War hero. Despite technically not being able to join the army at all because she was a woman, Emma Edmonds joined crossed the American-Canadian border to join the Union army for the action and adventure. She knew full well that she could keep up with the men because she grew up helping on her family farm. But, she never expected the adventures she experienced during the war.

Seymour Reit tells a fictionalized version of this true story (the
Kayla Ritenour (In Between The pages)
So I started this one because it's one of the books in the reading program I teach. And I really enjoyed it. It's part biography, part non fiction/fiction, part memoir. And it just is such an interesting a quick read. I loved all the historical facts and stories that you learn from the pages Emma wrote. And her experiences, especially in a time where not only did a woman accomplish so much. But a young man in general.
Her story is so complex and interesting. And the author did a great way of blen
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I had to read this book for a school project. My teacher wanted us to read a book and take notes,make summaries,and answer questions based on different concepts in the book. At first the way it gave Emma different names and called her different things before she became a spy was a little confusing. I thought the book was an eye jerker. It's not exactly a book I would want to read but it was for school so I had no choice. This book was still interesting. Even though I do not really like this kind ...more
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Seymour Victory Reit was the author of over 80 children's books as well as several works for adults. Reit was the creator, with cartoonist Joe Oriolo, of the character Casper the Friendly Ghost.

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