In a surfeit of books on the Civil War, this story of the women of the North and their contributions stands out as fresh, arresting and vital reading. The author, as a novelist, brings her sense of construction and drama and her recognition of the story values in her material to the writing; as a researcher, with an excellent history of surgery to her credit, Scalpel, she has dug into primary sources, and read intensively on all aspects of her topic (i.e. the extensive Bibliography appended). The numerous aspects of women's work -- as nurses; as organizers of hospital routine; as ""housekeepers"", bringing semi-order out of the chaos of camp and hospital and emergency station; as backers, expeditors and prods in the matter of sanitation; as innovators, forcing their way in even when excluded by custom and military order; as army wives on the field of battle; as spies; as sources of supplies back home; as fund raisers, and so on and on. Individuals emerge- and frequently provide the springboard for the general picture. There are women whose names are still famous,- Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Cornelia Hancock, Ma Bickerdyke, Rose Greenhow, the Blackwell sisters, Mary Livermore; there are as many and more whose stories are less known,- Annie Wittenmyer, Katharine Wormeley, Pauline Cushman, etc. And through these personalities Agatha Young has told not only the overall story of the Civil War- from the Union side- but has conveyed a sense of the life of the times, the social tenets, the point of view. Out of the war -- and due in large part to the achievements of these women -- came a new sense of responsibility towards the wounded, the rehabilitation after the war, and the place of women in the nation.