Review: ENEMY WOMEN by Paulette Jiles

Some participants do not have blogs of their own, but we like to give them an opportunity to express their opinions about the books they read for the reading challenges.

Reva read Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles for the U.S. Civil War Reading Challenge 2011.  Here is her review:

The Civil War in Missouri was particularly horrible because it was a border state. Everyone was suspected of treachery and each citizen had to worry about being raided by Union, Rebel, Union militia and Rebel militia. Southern Missouri mountain suffered most because they were isolated, already below subsistence and vulnerable. Homes were raided over and over again by different factions of the war and just plain criminals.

Innocent women were seized and imprisoned in an effort to obtain confessions and to inflict additional stress on their soldier husbands, brothers and cousins. Prisons were so delapidated that one actually collapsed with chained women inside. All were under 18 years of age.

Union soldiers were undisciplined and allowed to steal and kill at will, suffering no consequences as they left unburied bodies to despoil the land and waters.

This book forces one to ponder what people in foreign lands think of all the American soldiers who occupy their homelands. In this time of austerity, shouldn’t we consider bringing them home, protecting our own borders better and going back to the isolationist policies of pre-WWII America.

**Attention participants: Remember to email us a link to your reviews, and we’ll post them here so we can see what everyone is reading!**


  1. Enemy Women does not accurately depict the Civil War. Jiles has carefully included information she obtained (I am assuming) in her research of this topic (without properly citing the sources). It would be interesting to actually check these sources for accuracy. She does not remain historically believable in the dialect of her characters, using words and phrases not common during that time. Enemy Women is absolutely one of the most poorly written novels I’ve ever read and should not be confused with classic literature.

  2. Hi Dee! Thanks for weighing in. I can’t comment on the accuracy of the historical details included in the book, but without proper source citation and checking these sources, I don’t think we can accuse the author of writing an inaccurate book. The dialect in which Adair speaks is shown briefly at one point, and whether it is accurate, I can’t say. I do know that it would make the book extremely difficult to read if Adair’s dialogue had been written in that dialect. It’s also important to remember that the book is fiction, and whether the author of such a work stays true to history or tweaks it is entirely up to him/her. Readers should use historical fiction as a starting point, and then do research on their own to find out the truth.

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