Cover: Women’s War: Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War, from Harvard University PressCover: Women’s War in HARDCOVER

Women’s War

Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War

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Product Details


$26.95 • £21.95 • €24.50

ISBN 9780674987975

Publication Date: 04/15/2019


320 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

8 photos

Belknap Press


As [McCurry] argues, women don’t just watch history from the sidelines; they make it, they act in it, they are very much part of it. To see women as innocent wallflowers in need of protection could prove a deadly mistake when women were serving as smugglers, scouts, decoys, insurgents, and combatants; ignore them at your peril.—Brenda Wineapple, The New Republic

Readers expecting hoop-skirted ladies soothing fevered soldiers’ brows will not find them here… It explodes the fiction that men fight wars while women idle on the sidelines.—Chandra Manning, The Washington Post

Identifies a durable commitment to patriarchy that outlasted slavery and sustained white supremacy through the Civil War and beyond… McCurry sets out to view the South’s ordeal in the Civil War ‘through women’s eyes,’ a perspective too often ignored in histories of warfare.—Amy Murrell Taylor, The Times Literary Supplement

Correcting histories that erase women’s share in wartime work, McCurry reminds us that ‘Women are never just witnesses to war.’The Wall Street Journal

Traces three narratives to argue that ‘there is no Civil War history without women in it.’ Women waged grassroots campaigns that informed the new concept of ‘Civilian as Enemy’—the trial of the Confederate spy Cara Judd altered martial law—and shaped the Union’s refugee policy and the terms of the peace. McCurry scrutinizes legal archives compiled by men, seeking glimpses of women they overlooked, whose voices enliven the book.The New Yorker

Stephanie McCurry challenges us once again to look at the Civil War through a different lens. She demonstrates how women’s participation changed not only their lives but the very understanding of war itself—its laws, its mechanisms of violence, its legacies and aftermath. In this brilliant exposition of the politics of the seemingly personal, McCurry illuminates previously unrecognized dimensions of the war’s elemental impact.—Drew Gilpin Faust, author of This Republic of Suffering

As Stephanie McCurry points out in this gem of a book, many historians who view the American Civil War as a ‘people’s war’ nevertheless neglect the actions of half the people. Her account of Southern white women’s participation in rebel resistance, black women’s roles in their own emancipation, and the prostrated condition of the women as well as men of the planter class after the war paves the way to a better integration of women into the story of this era.—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

With uncommon comparative sizzle and a deep grounding in gender, legal, and racial history, McCurry has written a stunning portrayal of a tragedy endured and survived by women. Horror and hardship in this case have inspirited beautiful writing. Women’s War gives the legions of Civil War era readers a unique, unsettling, and enriching understanding of the conflict. Women were not mere witnesses to war; McCurry is our witness to how they died and lived through this cataclysm.—David W. Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

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