The Secrets of Mary Bowser
By Lois Leveen
A stunning reading-group novel based on the true story of freed slave Mary Bowser.
'I spy with my little eye, where the bird goes when he doesn't fly,' Mama said one mid-day, her words floating on the Richmond heat as we carried empty cookpots through the yard to the kitchen.
Mama, your little girl is all grown up, and still playing our best game. I am a spy . . .
Mary Bowser was born a slave. She was freed and educated.
Then she willingly went back into slavery . . .
As the American Civil War looms, Mary gives up her independence and returns to her home state. There she poses as an illiterate slave in the Confederate White House and spies on President Jefferson Davis.
But as the death and destruction of war take their toll, Mary discovers that everything comes at a cost--even freedom.
Based on a true story, The Secrets of Mary Bowser is an extraordinary and inspiring tale of injustice and courage, friendship and conflict--and of one woman willing to sacrifice her own liberty to change the course of history.
Lois Leveen holds an A.B. magna cum laude in History and Literature from Harvard University, an M.A. in English from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in English with a specialty in African American literature from UCLA. A former faculty member at UCLA and Reed College, Lois has given talks about race at conferences and universities throughout the world. Her poetry, creative nonfiction, and critical essays have been published in a wide range of magazines, literary journals, and book collections and her short films have been shown at film festivals around the US.
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- Publication date:
24 May 2012
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Lois Leveen has given us a new hero, Mary Bowser - a slave turned spy for the union army. Told with clarity, confidence, and courage, THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER illuminates an untold and important story about slavery, the Civil War, and the role of women in achieving emancipation. A riveting and powerful book. — Naseem Rakha, internationally bestselling author of The Crying Tree
Deftly balancing history, romance and adventure, Leveen honors the life and historical importance of a brave, resourceful woman. — Kirkus
Will appeal to many readers with its clear narrative, uncomplicated characters and unambiguous sense of right and wrong. — Historical Novels Review