The Civil War was a time in history where women were finding their own allegiances, a time of war and treason, heartache and treachery. The Years of 1848-1968 were defining years both for the emancipation of slavery but for the women who chose their own involvement in working for their beliefs and that of their husbands and families.
In Capital Dames by Cokie Roberts we are taken into the parlors and the Whitehouse during a time when unrest was at its height. We are introduced to the women behind the great names in the histories of the colonies, and educated as to the real lives that were led by the men and their leading ladies.
Whether they were the communicators, the spies or the informers, each had a strong belief in what they were doing. We meet the First Lady of the White House, as well as the belles of both the north and the south. There is an amazing array of information gleaned from writing, diaries and news of the time and Cokie has taken the opportunity to shine a light on the women behind the history of the Civil war.
What I enjoyed about this particular telling is that Roberts tells the history as it unfolds, not just the woman, but also the men as they too play their part in history. While the emphasis is on the woman, it is the history and the making of it that seems to be the guide. I have always been interested in history and yet found myself in awe by some of the happenings. Many I did not know, and do not recall coming up in history lessons in school.
Often the woman had to speak for the men, they were away at war, and information deemed important would often make its way through the woman, and their own visits with Generals and the White House as they tried to find a way to work the system to the best advantage of their own particular husband, family or belief.
It is an amazing array of bravery and fortitude that holds you enthralled in the reading as you find yourself wondering just how you would handle some of the same issues. The war also brought to light the suffering and the need for hospitals, and we also meet the women who worked tirelessly to bring the Red Cross to light.
If you enjoy history and want to know more behind the written facts, you will find the information garnered here through numerous records, many never before published, to be interesting and heartbreaking. You may also learn a bit more about this time in history, especially the part played by the woman as their men did their best to bring an end to war.
This would be a great work for a reading or book club. The information is priceless, and the debatable material would keep a group talking long after hours.