WBR: The Secrets of Mary Bowser

Turns out, writing “weekend book review” every week takes an enormous amount of effort.
Effective immediately, it will now be shortened to WBR.

With school back in session, I decided to embrace this whole life-long learning thing and read a book with historic significance. What a book I chose. The Secrets of Mary Bowser is a true story about a slave, freed by her progressive masters who send her to the North for an education. Years later, Mary Bowser voluntarily returns to Virgina even though, by law, she must relinquish her freedom as a black woman crossing over the Virgina state line. She does this, and sacrifices her dream of freedom, to work as a slave in the Confederate White House and act as a spy for the abolitionist’s. She deceives even those closest to her as her true purpose and identity in the Confederate White House remains a top secret. Posing as an illiterate slave, she serves President Jefferson Davis during important Confederacy meetings, gains access to top secret documents and is one of only a few spies responsible for drastically changing the course of the Civil War.

Many things about this book shocked me, the first of which was that I never heard of this woman before. Where was this stuff in American History I and II?! Furthermore, I was happily surprised at how novel-like this book read [yep, new word. Invented by yours truly] It didn’t feel like I was reading about history – with dates on every other line, and a timeline in the front of the book. Nothing turns me off more then when I’m excitedly flipping through the beginning pages of the book, ready to jump in to the story, and a timeline [or a map!] is the first thing I see after the dedication page. Ms. Leveen did a phenomenal job of making sure she was telling a story, and that story just so happened to be true.

Thumbs up.
Happy reading – and enjoy your weekend!


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