The Better Angels

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What to expect

Excellent biographies have been written about Clara Barton, Sarah Josepha Hale, Julia Ward Howe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Tubman, but their lives have never been looked at together as they intertwined with the Civil War narrative. Plumb compares and contrasts the qualities of the women to discover their common attributes for success and what was unique to each woman.

Without leading troops in battle or wielding political power, these five women profoundly influenced the start of the war and its conduct throughout as North and South clashed. Coming from varying backgrounds and with different skills, the women performed acts embodying truth, freedom, compassion, inspiration, and conciliation that helped change the course of the war. They were each independent, resourceful, and intelligent women who overcame the social and political climate of mid-nineteenth century America to play important game-changing roles. They influenced the abolitionist cause, freedom for enslaved people, military medical care, inspiration of Union troops, and reconciliation as the war drew to a close.

The Better Angels explores how each of the women’s lives were affected by the war and as the doors of opportunity opened for them. Their stories are filled with times of joy, frustration, success, confrontation, disappointment, and satisfaction that shaped them as they found purpose and fulfillment in the midst of a devastating war.

Critics Review

  • “An inspirational work of history that touts such character traits as persistence, courage, faith, and compassion.”

    Kirkus Reviews
  • “There couldn’t be a better time for America to find its better angels, and Robert C. Plumb’s lucid and admiring portrait of five exemplary women is just the ticket.”

    Louis Bayard, author of Courting Mr. Lincoln
  • “A clear, compelling introduction for readers not steeped in the history of the American Civil War. Robert Plumb doesn’t just chart clashes and body counts. He humanizes the conflicts that tore the country apart, focusing on the home front as well as the front lines. His story unfolds through the perspective of five women [whose] lively group portrait will inspire readers to find out more.”

    M. G. Lord, author of Astro Turf
  • “Few realize the scope of what these remarkable women overcame and accomplished during their long, productive lives…From them readers can learn lessons of courage, determination, creativity, and resourcefulness.”

    Marilyn Southard Warshawsky, author of John Franklin Goucher: Citizen of the World
  • “Robert Plumb has placed five remarkable women on the center stage of the American Civil War. Their compelling stories are told with perception and freshness in this inspiring work of women’s history.”

    Robin G. Schulze, author of The Degenerate Muse
  • “Many casual students of American history are aware that Harriet Tubman led scores of slaves to freedom, that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that Julia Ward Howe wrote ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ that Clara Barton helped save the lives of scores of wounded Union soldiers and founded the American Red Cross, and that Sara Josepha Hale persuaded Abraham Lincoln to proclaim Thanksgiving a national holiday. But all of these extraordinary women did a great deal more in the causes of freedom, women’s rights, and literary excellence, as Robert Plumb makes clear in this fine group biography of five women who truly did change the course of American history.”

    James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author

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